Saturday, December 6, 2014

Bahamas 2014 - Creole Wrasse Rodeo

Aquarium divers have just returned from a trip to the Bahamas to collect fish destined for the Giant Ocean Tank. Over the next couple posts, they'll share pictures and information about interesting fish and explain what it takes to transport fish from the Bahamas to Boston. Today's post comes from trip participant Dave Waller.

creole wrasse, Clepticus parrae

Creole wrasses are beautiful fish that school in open water above reefs.  Seeing them flit around mid water column in the Giant Ocean Tank is enjoyable for staff and visitors alike.  Which is why it's time for a wrasse rodeo!

Getting into position

We had been catching fish by the ones, twos and threes for a few days when Sherrie announced we were going after a school of about 50 creole wrasses. I didn’t even know what a creole wrasse was, but I knew all wrasses are fast and I hadn’t even caught one yet. So Sherrie and Captain Lou brought out the white board and explained their method, which sounded like more of a military operation than a rodeo. We needed twelve divers for this mission, and the most experienced would position themselves at the wings of the formation; the rest of us would swim between them. As the school approaches us, the leftmost wing will gently “herd” the fish in a spiral down into the reef, where Captain Lou will be waiting with his big nets. The divers, each holding fine mesh nets about the size of a butterfly net, will form a closed circle and gently (no sudden movements!) guide the fish into a tight ball, and when the ball gets small enough, the wrasses will try and make a break for it.  Exactly when they broke for it and where they would go was up to Lou, Sherrie and Chris.

"Slow.... slow... slow!" yells Lou underwater

Our first attempt ended rather miserably; we never determined if Lou had swum to a different coral head or whether the whole group just got lost. The second dive didn’t end up much better - we couldn’t find any wrasses at all, so we broke into smaller groups and spent the rest of our air finding other fish. But the third dive paid handsomely! As Lou gathered up his nets, all the divers waited in line to load the fish into transfer bags and swim back to “The Barrel” which was tethered to the ship at depth. Back on the boat, we hoisted the barrel five feet every 15 minutes to acclimate the fish to surface pressure. How many did we finally get? Exactly 50 healthy creole wrasses - just what the “Fish Wish List” called for. 

Lou transfers the creoles into Don's catch bag

Don says with his eyes "Lookie what I found"

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment