We left La Selva two days ago (…sorry… I’m running just a little behind…) and took off for Miami, Grand Cayman, and then Little Cayman Island, where we arrived yesterday. The view of the reef flying in was incredible- Little Cayman has a barrier reef almost all the way around, and the color of the water changes dramatically from reef to nearly bottomless drop-off. The wall-diving here is supposed to be spectacular, but for today we stuck to snorkeling.
We walked right out of the dining room from breakfast into the waves, taking a several-yard detour to snag wetsuits and fins and snorkels.
The reef right in front of the Little Cayman Research Center, where we’ll be staying for the next few weeks, is simply incredible snorkeling. And Dad got me an underwater housing for my camera for Christmas- I don’t know if I’ve ever been as excited for a Christmas present put to use! Thanks Dad!
A few of the creatures we saw our very first few hours in the water:
This is a scorpionfish- I got lucky and spotted it on the seafloor next to a rock, I think because it was breathing and I saw its gills move. They’re quite venomous if you get pricked with their dorsal spines- like all the snakes from previous posts, no touchie!
This one’s a Southern Stingray, one of the critters that makes the Caymans famous (the biodiversity here is huge, but the stingrays are pretty charismatic and like to be hand-fed, so snorkel tours go out of Grand Cayman to pat them all the time).
This Queen Conch, probably 18 inches from front to back, was presumably sifting through the sand to find food… while other mollusks and algae and tiny fishes colonized its beautiful shell. The wiggly reddish thing is a fire worm- a very good and painful reason not to dig around in the sand with bare hands.
Tomorrow, we go on our first check-out dive (just to make sure everyone’s skills are up to par). Maybe in the afternoon when we get back, I’ll go looking for the 6-foot nurse shark that is supposed to hang out in the grass off of one of the boat moorings. Maybe I’ll get started thinking of research project ideas… hopefully ones that involve octopuses or pufferfish or nudibranchs or other cool stuff!
Life could definitely be harder…
Expect more underwater photos, and hopefully some more natural history of the islands, coming up soon!