Archives: May 2008 - May 2009


Stilts were named for their incredibly long legs. The Flamingo is the only other bird with longer legs relative to its size. I have never seen stilts in the ocean, but they are common at the Salt Ponds south of our house. Stilts are normally wary birds, but we found two stilts next to the road that we were able to get close to. I took two shots from the car before they left.

Black-necked Stilt

 


You can see how long their legs are here.

Posted April 24th, 2009




Most gobies we see around here are dull colored, skittish fish. There are a few brightly colored species, but they're usually found in deeper reefs or hidden under sea urchins. The two species that I found were under sea urchins at some tide-pools (Queens Baths) north of our house.

Nineline Gobies. These gobies are fairly common, but most are under an inch long and spend most of their time under urchins, so you have to look carefully to find them.

 


Greenband Goby. These aren't as common as the Nineline, but their bright colors help them stand out. They are shy gobies, usually darting back to their urchins as you first notice them.

 

Posted April 24th, 2009




I took this shot of a Southern Stingray from Kirk and Jakes' boat. The stingray is raising his tail as a threat. Unlike Eagle Rays, Southern Stingrays only have one barb on their tail. We've noticed that many stingrays  ̶̶  especially the small ones  ̶  tend to stay in the same area, so maybe I'll get a better shot of this one soon.

 

Posted March 11th, 2009




While out at Muttonfish Point my mom and I saw at least 5 different eagle rays. The first one we spotted cruising through the shallows. We buzzed up in front of him and cut the engine. The ray passed right by the boat and went a ways then turned around and came right by us again. We sat there waiting a while and he passed by the boat one more time and left. A few minutes later we saw two more eagle rays. These weren't interested in us and only cruised by us once. A little further up we saw three more eagle rays. Two little ones and one big one. The little ones came in for a look a few times, but the bigger one always kept it's distance.

Eagle ray. Shot from above the water.

 



The water had been too cold to dive, so I held the camera underwater and aimed as best I could. I messed up a lot, but a couple pictures came out okay. This ray is probably about 4 feet from one wing tip to the other.

 

Barracudas checking out the boat
 

 

Posted February 21st 2009




The past three days we've had good weather. Finally a break from those 25 knots north winds. We got some good pictures that I'll be posting over the next few days. Here's a picture of my Mom and I out front.
 
 

Posted February 14th, 2008




This is a picture of a Yellow-crowned Night heron. I found him sleeping near our neighbors fence. Once he saw me he hopped clumsily to the fence, but seemed too sleepy to fly off and I was able to get a few pictures before he flew off. We don't see these herons much, though you can find them on the beaches at night. They like to hide out during the day and I've noticed that whenever I see them, sea-grape plants are usually around. Our beach and trail are often full of footprints from last night's feeding.

 



 

Posted February 4th, 2009




My older brother, Dane, visited for two weeks from Hawaii. The weather was cold for most of his stay, but we still had a few good diving and fishing days.

The fishing has been extremely unusual this year. We haven't had near the usual amount of fish. The winter fish have be so delayed that we've resorted to fishing for Houndfish instead of Tunny and Mackerel.
     The Mackerel usually show up when the water cools down, normally around November. The water has been freezing for months, but its been just recently that we have caught mackerel bigger than 7 or 8 inches. Another winter fish, the Little Tunny, came about a month ago, but since the bigger mackerel have come they have disappeared. Luckily my brother got here just in time to see both the tuna and the mackerel.

Dane's girlfriend took this picture of him on our beach.

 

Posted January 31st, 2009




I got a new reel for Christmas. It's an Abu Garcia Soron 40. The Soron is just slightly bigger than most of our other reels holding 180 yds. of 12#. I've only used it a few times but it seems well-built.

Kirk and I went up to Whale Point today and each caught a 7 pound Horse-eye Jack (C. latus). Horse-eyes are solid fish and the reel performed perfect throughout the fight, so it'll be fine for anything we catch out front. The only complaint I've had was that the spare spool had an almost silent drag clicker, but I managed to fix it.
 

 

Posted January 4th, 2009




Jethro and I went looking for waves yesterday, but we couldn't find any so we drove south in search of a dive spot. We finally found a fairly calm place on the Caribbean side and jumped in. While offshore a short way, Jethro found a big old anchor. We wanted to take it home but it was too heavy to carry. So we looped a line over a kayak and managed to pull the anchor a couple feet off the bottom and then slowly towed it to shore. Here's a picture of it in front of our house. We think the anchor was probably made in the late 1800s.
 

 

Posted January 4th, 2009





I went fishing off the northern point on our beach. I went out mainly to check if the winter Mackerel had shown up yet, but I was also hoping to catch a Bar Jack. The fishing was lousy and there were no mackerel but I stuck around until finally something showed up. Two Spotted Eagle Rays cruised by the point and I cast toward them thinking that some Jacks might be traveling with them. Right away I had something bite. Once I pulled it in I was surprised to see it was a large Sharksucker. I towed it back to the beach for some underwater pictures:
 

 

Posted November 19th, 2008




Maurice came over with a big crew yesterday to go lionfish hunting. We went to all the local reefs around our house and finally headed down to the bridge. I was so cold I decided to skip the dive and stay in the boat, but everyone else went in. About halfway through the dive Joey, Maurice's nephew with a medium sized lionfish and shouts: "There's two more". Joey was so excited about the other two he barely noticed when the one on his spear slid down and stung his hand. The only way to treat lionfish stings is to neutralize the venom with hot water. Joey tried soaking his hand in the engine exhaust water but that didn't help too much so we headed back to the house.
Joey described the pain as having someone slam a hammer on your hand over and over. He spent a while soaking his hand and biting a towel, but by the time the rest of the crew showed up he seemed much better. We got a total of 18 lionfish, six of them were big enough to eat, but the others were too small.

Joey (right) demonstrating how he got stung. The pan below him was for soaking his hand.

 


Maurice also got a huge Spider Crab.

 

Posted November 8th, 2008




Porgies

Kirk and I padded two kayaks to Hog Heaven (dive spot) to go spear fishing.  didn't get. I dove down to look under a ledge and saw a fish tail going around the corner so I dove back around the other side and saw a nice size porgy sitting there. I was so excited I almost shot right away but I decided to wait until I got a better shot. I starting to run out of breath and the porgy wouldn't move. Finally it turned side ways and I shot it just under the eye. This is my first Porgy from the Caribbean. Porgies seem to know that they're good to eat so they're always on the run. This one was digesting food and was hiding under a rock where he could be cornered.

 

Posted November 2nd, 2008




While diving a shallow reef on the Atlantic I looked down at some sea fans and saw a pair of flamingo tongues. I was surprised because there was a bit of wave action and the sea fans were really getting whipped around. I couldn't get a picture of those two, but I found one a more stationary fan and was able to get decent picture.

 

 Here's a close up:

 

This is what they look like when they wash up on the beach. The attractive spotted mantle is gone. If you can find them soon after they died they still have an orange tint, but they soon fade to white in direct sunlight.

 

Posted October 4th, 2008





Here's a picture of a juvenile Yellow Jack (Caranx bartholomaei) taken just off our beach. This summer we saw more Juvenile jack than in the previous seven years that we've been here. Small Bar Jacks (C. ruber) were the most common but we also saw the occasional Horse-eye (C. latus), Blue Runner (C. crysos), and Yellow jack.
 

 

Posted October 1st, 2008




I went to the hot-tubs (Queens bath) this morning with my camera and underwater housing. The hot-tubs are a few big tide pools on the east side of the island just north of our house.

Fish regularly get swept in and out of them during storms and tropical storm Hanna pushed a bunch of juvenile Sharpnose Puffers (Canthigaster rostrata) and a school of baby jack. A pair of really bright Golden Sun Anemone shrimp were also in there but I didn't manage to get a good picture of them.

 

Posted September 17th, 2008




Highhats are a small fish in the Drum family. This is a juvenile Highhat, the adults are much different but I haven't been able to get a good picture of one yet. I found this drum at the sponge patch that's just off the end of the cay. It's about 12 feet deep and the sponges provide shelter so it's a perfect nursery for small drums.

 

Posted September 16th, 2008





My dad, mom, and I just went out on a kayak and paddleboard. My dad was on the paddleboard and was cruising by the northern point on our beach when a large hammerhead swam underneath him. The shark circled back approached him from behind with it's dorsal and tail fin above the water. After checking him out the shark started to leave and my dad started following it and the shark came back and did the same thing with it's dorsal and tail fins even higher out of the water. I saw the fins out but was too far away to see the shark underwater. By the time I got there the shark was gone. After we got to shore, we took the boat out with some chum but the shark never showed up.

Posted September 15th, 2008




Another bird picture from this past winter. Like Pelicans, Snowy Egrets are uncommon here. I'm always on the lookout for these small Egrets, but so far I've only seen three on Eleuthera.

I found this one while buzzing by Lenny Kravitz's Point in our boat. It flew off when I stopped, but I managed to snap a picture of it leaving. The silver glare beneath it, is a school of baitfish jumping. Their black legs with yellow feet are an easy way to distinguish this egret from others.
 

 

Posted September 13th, 2008




A few months ago we had a Brown Pelican stay at the cay for a couple days. Pelicans are rare on Eleuthera, so we were excited to see this one. The Pelican would always land on the highest branch on the cay and would almost break it every time. Whenever it was hungry it would just plunge down into the permanent school of baitfish that live at the cay.
 

 

Posted September 9th, 2008




I caught this Black Jack (Caranx lugubris) about a year ago in Kirk's boat, Mini-Me. Since then, Kirk has caught two smaller ones and we've both hooked bigger ones. They are usually a deep water fish but we've been able to find them in shallower waters, especially around drop-offs.

Recently Kirk and I ran into a whole school of Black Jack in 80 feet of water. We both managed to hook one, but mine broke the treble hook and Kirk's snapped his line. They are an excellent eating fish.

 

Posted September 10th, 2008





      I found this immature Green Heron (Butorides virescrens) in the mangroves behind our house yesterday. Juveniles aren't as bright as the adults, but they have a bright green patch by their eyes which older birds lack. The light was fading when I took this, so the picture is a little blurry.  

 

 

Posted September 9th, 2008




I speared two hogfish at Muttonfish point a couple weeks ago. The first one was four pounds and the second was six pounds.

The bigger one was smart and was a big pain to get. I missed my chance to shoot  the first time, so I waited a while until he came back out. Sneaking around a rock, I peered around the corner and found the hogfish fleeing to his hole. I shot him in the head just before he got in. The hogfish took it back into his cave and wedged himself against a rock. We couldn't pull him out so I shot it a second time in the cheek. After a little more tugging we pulled it out.

This is the six pound (23 inch) Hogfish on our fillet board.

 

Posted August 13th, 2008




Kirk, Jake, and I went spear fishing at Muttonfish Point a little over a week ago. We saw a few turtles but not that many fish to shoot. Jake and I finally found a large hogfish in a cave. Kirk wasn't interested and kept heading down the coast. A little while later Kirk swam back and told us that he had just seen a 8-10 foot Tiger Shark swimming by him with a turtle in his mouth. So all three of us swam to the boat and raced back to where Kirk had seen the shark. We searched and chummed for a while but the shark never showed up.

I was really bummed that I didn't get to see the shark. Kirk said that the shark had already bitten a chunk out of the turtle and that blood was everywhere.

Muttonfish point is only a mile away from our beach and it's shallow so we were really surprised to see a shark that big during the day.

Posted August 12th, 2008




Kirk and Jake took me out spear fishing yesterday. We went to a lot of different spots, but we didn't see that much. While trying to find a lobster my arm brushed up against the underside of a cave and something stung me. I jerked my arm out and looked to see what it was, a small four inch lionfish was sitting right where my arm had been. Most of the pain was gone within an hour and after a couple of hours I couldn't feel anything. I was really lucky that it was just a small lionfish that got me. Worst of all, we didn't get the lobster.


Below: Lionfish at Gaulding Cay. This Lionfish is much larger than the one that stung me.




 

Posted August 3rd, 2008




We went out diving at the grass patch off the south point of Gaulding Cay. It was busier than usual with more grouper and Gray Snappers than I've seen there before. None of the snapper or grouper pictures turned out so I'm posting a picture of this Giant Hermit Crab. This is a smaller than most underwater hermits but is still much larger than the average land hermit crab. It's shell is probably around 7 inches long.
 

 

Posted July 30th, 2008




There was a really good lightning storm last night, it was the perfect distance for taking pictures. I setup the camera and headed out around 11:00. Only one of the pictures came out but, luckily it was one of the best strikes that night. After a few more strikes the storm dissipated so I decided to head in. I didn't realize how calm the water was that night until seeing the reflection from this bolt.
 

 

Posted July 26th, 2008




Jake and I found this tiny two inch juvenile Nassau Grouper Epinephelus striatus hiding in a small coral mound. Jake netted the grouper yesterday and put it in his aquarium. It has already claimed a small cave and is defending his area. While photographing him I watched it eat at least 3 Mysid shrimp. Unfortunately I was never able to time it right and always took a picture just after he swallowed. We saw this grouper while diving in front of The Cove.

 

Posted July 23rd, 2008




Ben Bay

I just got back from Ben bay. It was murkier than we've ever seen it but I still found a couple cool fish. There wasn't much to spear but I brought my camera along and found some brightly colored Fairy Basslets Gramma loreto. The backscatter was a huge problem but the Basslet's colors were so bright I thought I'd post them anyway.

 

Posted July 21st, 2008




Canon G9

I finally got the underwater housing for my Canon G9. I've done four dives with it and so far I've had pretty good results. Here are a few of my best pictures
 

We've had a few juvenile permit living at the beach this summer. The biggest ones are about 4-5 inches. This is the largest and tamest one:

 


Shrimp on a Golden Sun Anemone

 

Spotted Moray

 

Posted July 21st, 2008




I found this Cicada in a tree while trying to find a Cuban Tree frog that was croaking. It has just molted and left it molt stuck to the tree. Some of the northern species live for 17 years underground then crawl out, molt, and live above ground for 5 weeks. The cicadas here don't live as long.


Posted July 21st, 2008




Lionfish [Update]

I went out spear-fishing at Mutton Fish Point three days ago. There wasn't that much there, so I concentrated on finding as many Lionfish as I could. I found eight throughout the dive, more than I've ever seen there. The biggest one, 12 inches, I decided to eat. After carefully cutting the spines off, I filleted the fish. The meat was surprisingly white. We fried it up along with some Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus). I liked both fish but I thought the Lionfish tasted better than the grouper. There wasn't much meat but it tasted really good.

Posted July 13th, 2008




Lionfish at Gaulding Cay


Lionfish at Gaulding Cay
 


Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) have been a big topic in Eleuthera lately. Lionfish are an 'alien' fish from the Pacific, that have recently invaded Florida and the Bahamas. The first ones were sighted in 1992 and now they have become common on reefs all over the Bahamas. Many people think that the lionfish are going to overrun our reefs because they have few if any natural predators and are themselves voracious predators. One suggestion is to make lionfish a new marine resource, which would hopefully control the population. Maurice White has a video on YouTube showing how to clean and prepare Lionfish to eat. They are supposed to be excellent eating, but we haven't tried one yet.

Click here to watch Maurice's video

Posted July 9th, 2008




I took these pictures a few weeks ago with my new Canon G9. For lightning photography at night you use a tripod and leave the cameras shutter open for a long time. The maximum shutter time is only 15 seconds on the G9 which isn't very long, but it works. I spent the first night experimenting with different settings. I had to delete a ton of fuzzy, blurred, and overexposed pictures, but by the end of the night I figured it out and got a few good shots.

I went out a few nights later and found another huge thunderstorm. Unfortunately the storm was way out on horizon. I still got a decent photo though. The purple effect is from taking pictures from far away. The dust particles give it a reddish color. It's the rainy season now so we're supposed to be having a lot of lightning storms, but lately the storms have been during the day or too far away.
 

Lightning taken from our front porch








Posted July 8th, 2008



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