Day 6- Snorkeling the Atlantic

This morning we went to Calibishie, which is on the northeastern side of the island, to snorkel the Atlantic Ocean.  This was the first time we had snorkeled the Atlantic.  It was definitely different from the Caribbean Sea.  It was a fairly nice day with not too much wind and the waves were still strong.  When you first stepped in the water there were sea grass beds that led out to the coral reef.  The two most common types of sea grass are turtle grass and manatee grass.  Sea grass beds provide nutrients for the coral reefs.  When I was swimming through the sea grass it was only a foot deep and I saw a sea anemone with a tiny crab climbing on.  The reef was amazing.  It started out in a foot of water and went out to 20 plus feet.  There were trenches and caves where fish were hiding.  Damien said that there has to be a shark out there in the one the caves but he has never seen one.  I was hoping today would the be the lucky and we would see one.  Unfourtunately we didn’t get to see jaws or his brother–maybe next time.  I saw lots of cool fish today.  The best fish I saw was the squirrelfish.  He was huge, about 16 inches long and had huge black eyes.  I tried to take a picture of him but he swam back into his hole.  I swam down and could see him sitting in there and stairing at me.  I also saw a princess parrotfish and a yellowtail parrotfish.  They were really big too.  I saw lots of cute redlip blennys hiding in the sand and poking their heads out of brain coral.  The coral reef had massive damage done to it.  The sea fans were torn and ripped off the sedement is was attached to.  The reef contained lots of elkhorn coral skeletons because they were dead from disease and coral bleaching.  Sascha said that it is very raw to find a living elkhorn coral.  It is depressing to hear that because they are a very unique and beautiful coral.  The coral that was alive provided an amazing structure for this reef.  It provides a home for hundreds of damselfish and butterfly fish.  When we were done Sascha and Damien had asked up to gather samples of seaweed and algae.  We idendified them to be white scroll alga, serrated strap alga, green grape alga and other red and brown algea.  The snorkeling was very tiring because you had to fight the waves but it was amazing and deffently worth doing!

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Northeast Dominica

calibishie

Today we spent our first day over on the East side of the island. This is the Atlantic coast, and is the windward side of the island so it was much windier and had large waves. It also has some very interesting reef structures, such as fringing reefs. We first went snorkeling just south of the town of Calibishie. There was a not so friendly yet very photogenic young bull near where we were snorkeling, he posed nicely for some photos.

bull

After that we continued a little further south to Woodford hill beach. There were tons of kids all around some in their underwear and some even naked playing cricket, wrestling, swimming, and everything in between.

kids

Sascha and Demian were very surprised to see this much activity because usually the beach is empty. This week because of Palm Sunday and Easter the schools spend most of the days on “field trips”, such as this one to the beach. Either way it was cool to see all the kids, and we got to talk to and play with some of them, and Karen even let them bury her.

karen

Brian, Kate, Demian and I walked aways down the beach to a point of rock where we got in and began snorkeling. There was a huge reef structure in the middle the water. It had cliffs on all sides of it, and they were covered with beautiful corals, and zooanthids. It was really incredible, it would have been even more incredible had we had been permitted to use scuba equipment that would have allowed us access to the rest of the cliff, but apparently the school won’t allow us to use scuba equipment for whatever reason. I got some very nice closeup photos of the corals.

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Debut: Bubbus maximus

A creature of much size and stature has yet to be given the credit it deserves. Bubbus maximus, endemic to Japan, was introduced to Dominica early in the 1980’s and quickly adapted to the rough terrain that makes up this unique island. B. maximus, locally referred to as “Big Bubba,” has a rough exterior, a white head, gray back, and blue sides. It moves in a seemingly mechanical way, slowly gaining momentum, but can eventually reach speeds up to 60 mph – an incredible feat for a creature its size.

Big Bubba


We’ve had close encounters with it on almost all of our excursions (note the frightened students above). At first, most of us were hesitant to get near it, being that it looked unstable and unforgiving. But our fearless guide, Sascha, seems to be able to control the beast like no other, and we’ve been amazed at how well it responds to his commands. Luckily our fears have subsided and we’ve been able to accept this exotic species as part of life here in Dominica.

Big Bubba

 

Day at Roseau

Today, half the group went to Roseau. We walked a long ways, going up and down roads, looking in stores and trying to find the right souvenir to bring back for our friends and families back home. Everything was fascinating. There was Dominican art being sold at the side of the street as well as hats being knitted as they were being sold. There were other tourists that arrived in a cruise ship there wandering around as well. Many of the tour guides thought we were part of that group and they would ask us if we would like a tour with them. But, unfortunately for them, we were there to be in the city. It seemed like every other person we encountered, it was a tour guide asking us if we wanted to go to the beach. Sometimes we saw the same tour guide more than once.
Later on, the group went to eat at Pearl’s. It was so wonderful and the food was very delicious. I can’t get enough of the food here in Dominica.
Anyways, it’s getting late y’all. I’ve got another movie for you. If you can’t see it on the site, you can click on this link: Day at Roseau
Hope you guys enjoy.
[Oh, and I apologize to those who got offended for the poor credits of first movie I posted. I couldn’t get all the information- names- because I spent my time editing that movie on a plane. It was hard for me. I’m sorry.

Mighty Max and the Kubuli Kid

Today we were given the option of going to Roseau to do some shopping and to sample the culture, or the option of going to the beach in Mero Beach to do some snorkeling. I opted for the beach since I can never get enough of the ocean. Damian dropped a group of five of us off. We got in some snorkeling, but I’ll leave that to Karen’s blog.

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Walking through town we gained a little follower. He was a wiggly, rough looking little puppy that seemed to just want some affection. We stopped and played with him for a while, and noticed he was quite emaciated. Tirzah, Karen and I wanted so badly to take him with us, but we decided to move on and let him go about his way.  After we ate lunch, we headed back through town and our little follower accompanied us once again. We stopped to play and noticed how hungry he was. Tirzah and I went back to the little restaurant where we had lunch, and each bought him a chicken drumstick. His ears stood up, and he sat back patiently with his little tail wagging as we tore up tiny pieces of chicken for him. He ate enthusiastically and finished off every last bit. We noticed he had ear mites and ticks all over him. Tirzah whipped out her Q-tip stash, and we cleaned him up and removed the troublesome parasites.  He seemed thankful as he gave us each a lick and a sniff and continued on his way. He became our honorary Dominica dog Kubuli.

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 Next we met another dog on the beach while we were relaxing by the ocean. He was a pudgy little guy named Mighty Max. He had tags, and belonged to a group of people who were rented a house on the beach. He hung out in the cooler, wet sand with us. He was clearly much more fortunate than our friend Kubuli.

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It’s interesting to see the way pets fit in to the culture here in Dominica. Some people really enjoy their pets, and have them as companions while others seem to have obtained them when they wandered on to their property and never left. They belong to those people, but only because they wandered that way. Some of the locals observed us tending to Kubuli, and seemed interested. Hopefully our love for animals rubbed off on some of them, and maybe they might start taking a little better care of their pets as well. I sure hope so.

p.s. miss you Elias and Aiden! xo

More Snorkeling Pictures and Video

We had a free day today. One group went to the capitol city of Roseau, the other group went to the beach in Mero. I was in the beach going group. We did some more snorkeling while we were there and saw lots of cool things and got many great pictures, and videos. Where we snorkeled today was an artificial reef, constructed of reef balls. Here are some of the pictures and a video.

Here is a video of Caribbean Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea) changing color

They use color change like this as a camouflage technique, to spook would be predators and also as communication to one another. The color change is instantaneous and quite amazing.

squid

Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)
christmas tree worm
christmas tree worm

Intermediate French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

french angelfish

A day at the Beach

Today was our day of choice! It was either sightseeing and souvenir shopping in Roseau or a day at Mero beach! I decided it was a good day to lay about and do a whole lot of nothing, to rest up before our last few days. Most of our day was spent laying about on the beach although Tirzah was the first one in the water this morning at about 9:30! Nicole and I decided that a little sun bathing was good before we dipped our toes! Of course Clayton and Mark headed straight for the bushes and the lizards! Tirzah and Nicole at Mero beachAs the day went on and it got a bit warmer Nicole and I decided a little water would be nice so we floated near the shore so we could keep a close eye on our things. When it clouded over and started to sprinkle we decided it would be a good time for lunch. We had amazing food at Connie’s: Mero Beach Bar and Grill. Then it was back to the water after a leisurely stroll and playing with a puppy we met! Out in to the water we went and shortly after entering the water I had a strange friend. Sun bathing beach beautyA very small (about 1-1 1/2 inches long) fish with black bars was swimming in front of my mask. Nicole and I played catch the fish for a few minutes trying to scoop him up in our hands and then went on our way. Little did I realize that he never left. He swam under my legs, my arms, in front of my face, around my ankles, he just wouldn’t go away! He followed me all the way out to deep water where concrete spheres were dropped in the water to allow for the growth of coral to assist in reef development. Tirzah and I at MeroAt that point Tirzah dived down to get a closer look at the fish congregated around the artificial reef and did not see a Diadema (long spine sea urchin) and it poked her hand! OUCH! We thought it was about time to head back to ITME so we started swimming back to shore and low and behold I still had my little fish attachment! We swam right to shore and I stood up and still my little fish was swimming around my ankles! Then he saw Tirzah and decided that she was better protection and stuck to her. All in all it was an amazing day, unfortunately we didn’t have an underwater camera with us to document our little fishy friend, but we were able to identify him as a Pilotfish, Naucrates ductor, which are seen accompanying large fish, sharks, whales and even ships on occasion. Hence his clingyness. He was so little and all alone, we became his school of sharks and he was our squishy!