Tag Archives: #hermitcrab

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.

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Wow – The Virgin Islands

We have been in The Virgin Islands for just on a month now and they are stunning! There are over 100 islands, both large and small, inhabited and uninhabited and they are a cruiser’s delight! It is very quick and easy to sail to other islands or to find a protected bay if needed.

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To the east are the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and to the south and west lie the US Virgin Islands (USVI). There are three larger islands in each country and lots of smaller ones dispersed throughout. We are currently in St Croix (bottom of the map) in the USVI and really enjoying this low-key island.

These photos are just a quick snapshot of our month here. Most islands satisfy our basic needs: good hiking, interesting flora and fauna and fabulous snorkelling.

We started on Virgin Gorda in the BVI:

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A rest from hiking, overlooking Saba Rock.
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Spotted Eagle Ray

We swam with Spotted Eagle Rays who seemed to feed under our boat! They have beautiful markings and the tail is three times longer than the photo shows. Absolutely majestic and not worried about us.

After much toing and froing through Facebook we were able to coordinate a gathering at Norman Island (six boats) so we hightailed it down the Francis Drake Channel, which I liken to a water super highway and reminds us of the Australian Whitsundays. It was great to catch up  with friends and we did some fabulous snorkelling off the back of Izzy R at a rocky outcrop known as The Indians.

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L-R: Gorgeous but crazy girls, Gagi, Sunny & Gwen
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Snorkelling preparations!

Then it was off to Peter Island for a night before heading to Jost Van Dyke Island (JVD). We were lucky to catch up with Jo and Gregg from s/v Serenade and their guests.

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Enjoying the famous BVIs Painkiller at One Love on Jost Van Dyke Island

The next day we walked to the Bubble Pool on JVD. Looks pretty calm…..

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L-R: Gwen, Guillaume & Mal waiting for the bubbles!
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Here they come…..
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Whoa, get me outta here!

Off the next day to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. A very pretty anchorage and we enjoyed a few quiet days here.

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Very typical of the bays on many Caribbean islands.
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Pristine beach on Sandy Cay

Over to Sandy Cay, near Little Jost Van Dyke. This is a tiny island that Laurence Rockefeller owned and gave to the Brits. It’s home to the biggest collection of hermit crabs I’ve ever seen! It’s also totally untouched and a pleasure to take the short trail around the island.

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We then cleared out of the BVIs and entered the USVIs at St John. What an amazing island. Again, thank goodness for the philanthropy of Laurence Rockefeller. He bought huge tracts of land (almost 2/3rds of the island) and bequeathed it to the US subject to it gaining National Park status. It is now a National Park with fabulous hikes and underwater marine parks. This is where I swam with an endangered hawksbill turtle and saw my first nurse sharks.

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Not worried at all. Green turtles are more skittish but the Hawksbill is much more relaxed.
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Apparently it’s common practice for nurse sharks to sleep under ledges.

As with most Caribbean islands, St John has had many ‘owners’; Spanish, British and Danish. It was built on slavery and had a substantial sugar industry until sugar beet came on the scene and slaves were freed in 1848. There are lots of sugar mill ruins and plantation estates throughout the island which make for very interesting hikes. We often caught a glimpse back in time and got our minds imagining what life may have been like with some of the estates looking very grand. The US purchased the islands from the Danes in 1917 for 25 million in gold.

On St John we stayed at the following bays: Caneel, Maho, Waterlemon, Salt Pond and Little Lameshur. Each had their own beauty with hikes and snorkelling – what more could you ask for?

This cactus is common throughout The Virgin Islands and has a wonderful little fruit very high in Vitamin C. Check out the pics.

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Turks Cap Cactus at Rams Head, Salt Pond Bay, St John.

Then it was a hike to the Petroglyphs, the ruins of the Reef Bay Sugar Mill and the ruins  of the Reef Bay Estate atop a hill. The Petroglyphs are attributed to the Taino Indians and date to between 900-1500AD.

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Fabulous rock walls litter the whole island.
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Rock carvings are attributed to the Taino Indians.

Then it was Mal’s birthday. He had a breakfast fit for a king, enjoyed his present and shared a beautiful meal at night with Gwen & Guillaume.

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Birthday breakfast!
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Birthday present,  a Stand Up Paddleboard, sure comes in handy when doing the rubbish run!

Below are some underwater pics I just love taking!

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Reef Squid
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A Red Hind harassing a Spotted Moray Eel.
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The well camouflaged Peacock Flounder

We are now six as Dalynn and Glen from S/V Amoray have joined Kool Kat and Slow Waltz and we are spending a week or so here in St Croix.

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S/V Amoray
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Gorgeous corals on the Fredriksted pier in St Croix.

This is a month’s worth of news so I’ll stop here. St Croix has heaps of interesting bits and pieces too so that will have to be in the next update!

Throughout Antigua and Barbuda, and now The Virgin Islands, we have been boat buddies with Canadians, Gwen and Guillaume from s/v Slow Waltz. They have been a delight to travel with and we have shared some amazing times together and created incredible memories.

Until next time, stay well, Sue and Mal. xx