Tag Archives: #eastplanacay

Bahamian Critters

After three seasons in the Eastern Caribbean we have been pleasantly surprised to meet some new critters and creatures in The Bahamas. Some, of course, are not indigenous to The Bahamas but we just hadn’t seen them before, or should I say, encountered!

Mal and I were lobster-hunting at East Plana Cay, a very remote and uninhabited island, when we met Mr 10’ Reef Shark! We had only seen nurse sharks in the Eastern Caribbean.

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Mal looking for lobsters…..

I frantically tried to get Mal’s attention…

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He cruised by and then, as is their wont, circled back to take another look at us! He was between us and our dinghy but he slowly swam away and we slowly, yeah right! swam back to our dinghy, all the while keeping an eye on the four barracuda tracking us! We’ve swum with nurse sharks before but never encountered one of these big boys! So awesome!

Now, for something a little more tame. Alex, from s/v Banyan, and I were snorkeling at Jack’s Cove off David Copperfield’s island, hunting for these cute little, as yet unidentified, creatures that Alex had spied the previous day. She described them as something between a snail and a slug, well, sort of she said.

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Alex and I jus’ hangin’ before heading to the shallows sea-hare hunting!
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And, we found one, actually dozens! They’re quite gelatinous in texture and look snail-like and move snail-like but they have no external shell. They’re markings are really cute and they have a frill-like trim which waves gently in the current.

They are known as Seahares or Aplysiomorpha, a marine mollusc and this variety is known as a black-spotted seahare.

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These two were travelling together. I took a video and will upload to our Youtube channel when I get a good wifi connection.

Continuing the underwater theme, we have regularly seen this delightful little Yellow Stingray throughout the Bahamas. Pretty well camouflaged heh? It is small but if you accidentally stand on one they have a serious sting!

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Gwen from s/v Slow Waltz and I recently had the ‘ride’ of our lives! Well, three rides actually. Guillaume and Mal dropped us off at the beginning of a cut with the tide going out to view the snorkelling spot at Warderick Wells called The Coral Garden. We enjoyed it so much we did two more times! The fast-moving current carried us along whilst we gazed down on the beautiful underwater marine life. Highlights for me were several giant Nassau Groupers, Atlantic Spadefish and four Spotted Eagle Rays elegantly gliding along. But, our favourite find was this 3lb lobster feeding on a conch shell whilst a Nassau Grouper patiently waited his turn. Whilst I’ve seen all these guys before, their size blew me away!

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OK, moving on to land, this gorgeous looking spider caught Alex’s and my attention when we were on Lee Stocking Island visiting an abandoned Research Marine Centre. We’ve been told he could be a Banana Spider – I think the yellow and black legs are the giveaway here LOL! He was big and since then we’ve seen smaller ones on other islands. Don’t you just love his hairy joints! My Wikipedia research says the Banana Spider or Brazilian Wandering Spider is aggressive and venomous! Luckily we left well enough alone 🙂

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And, while still on land, get a load of this cute little dude known as the, guess what?, curly-tailed lizard.

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He preferred his left side and wasn’t intimidated by the camera at all! We’ve seen a few of these little fellas on different islands now and they are so cute.

And, now we come to the amphibious critters. Gwen and I found these superb King Helmet shells semi-buried on the beach at East Plana Cay. The photos don’t do them justice and they’re far less common than a conch shell.

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The two above are roughly 17cm (7″) high (when standing in bottom photo) and 15cm (6″) across to the widest point.

Gwen is actually a Helmet shell magnet! She has found quite a few now. Slow Waltz, Banyan and we were walking through the shallows of O’Brien’s Cay when we found the ones below. All alive! These are smaller but check out their amazing markings.

Not to be outdone, get a load of what Mal found on the same sandbar. The 1st photo is obviously out of the water and is a massive crab! The pincers were as touch as nails! The 2nd photo I tried to take holding the camera underwater and it’s not that good but you can get a rough idea of what he looks like. He could move pretty quickly too! If he’s a hermit crab, he’s the biggest we’ve seen.

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And our final pic is of a fossilized flounder, possibly the Peacock Flounder, which we see in abundance, with a live one to compare.

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As you can see, we love exploring and discovering the wildlife, marine life and everything nature-wise about our travels.

We hope we’ve been able to show you something a bit different too 🙂

Cheers, Sue and Mal xx

Postscript: We only take shells that have been vacated by their owner and are not in a Marine Park. No critters are killed to satisfy our thirst for these amazing specimens.

Bahamas 101

We are currently cruising through the amazing archipelago known as The Bahamas. We didn’t know much about this incredible cruising ground and now fully appreciate why so many boaters, particularly those from North America, spend their winters exploring the incredible little nooks and crannies!

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Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island is the deepest known blue hole in the world at 663ft.

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According to Wikipedia, The Bahamas territory encompasses 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) and is made up of over 700 islands, cays (keys) and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are divided into regions: The Abacos, The Exumas, The Raggeds, The Jumentos and the Far Bahamas, which cover the more uninhabited outer islands. The main ‘cities’ are Georgetown down south in the Exumas, Nassau on the island of Providence, also the Bahamian capital, and Freeport on the northern island of Grand Bahamas in the Abacos.

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Many boaters sail across from the US for the northern hemisphere winter and spend their time cruising up and down the islands often only visiting the closer ones: The Abacos and The Exumas. We made our way up from the Dominican Republic via Turks and Caicos and have visited some of the outer or Far Bahamanian islands. These were a treasure and we feel privileged to have been able to visit some of them!

The islands we have visited have all been different but, at the same time, very similar. The striking similarity is the ‘gin-like’ clarity of the water! We attribute this to two reasons: the islands are flat and have little to no agriculture eliminating run-off; and, the prevailing winds during winter are from the east so this means the Atlantic ocean is flushing out the waterways with every tide. The result is pristine waters just begging you to snorkel, dive or swim.

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Staniel Cay

We find it impossible to accurately describe the colour and clarity of the water…..

The shallows, of course, present their own problems. We have to time our movements according to high tide and our snorkelling to slack water. We are on constant alert for coral heads and sandbars and many nautical miles are completed with only 1-1.5m under Kool Kat’s keels.

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Capt’n on high alert for coral heads and sandbars.
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Typical sandbar on the right.
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Jack’s Cove and very typical island terrain

We had to stop at Rudder Cut Cay to dive on David Copperfield’s stainless steel piano with accompanying mermaid. And, of course, Mal had to tickle the ivories. Not bad clarity in 15-20′ of water. The tide was going out and it took all our energy to maintain position. We time our dives now for slack water!

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And, like all good tourists, we had to feed the pigs at Staniel Cay….

And, snorkel Thunderball Grotto. This is a gorgeous little cave where James Bond (Sean Connery) did what he did best in the film Thunderball.

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Good ol’ Sergeant Majors always provide a pretty show.

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And, so we continue, up through The Exumas to Nassau where we are collecting my sister at the end of this month and we can share some new experiences with her through The Abacos! Can’t wait 🙂

Until next time, Sue and Mal xxx