Days Nine – Mapating

Brian's collecting bucket - Pseudanthias and Cirrhilabrus (and a few other goodies)

Brian’s collecting bucket – Pseudanthias and Cirrhilabrus (and a few other goodies)

golden eel

Gymnothorax probably flavimarginatus, but an unusual golden color

Lionfish in sponge

We see many lionfish deep, especially Pterois volitans, the same lionfish now introduced in the western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, and causing much disruption to the reef fish populations there.

We are still looking for 100m reefs, and are following any rumors, recommendations, legends etc to find one. Today, a combo or rumor and Google Earth scouting revealed a small sea mount / raised reef about a mile off shore. We acquired a hand held depth sounder, and found a fairly steep ledge dropping from 5-8m down to 75m in a fairly short distance. We try to find sites that don’t required much lateral swimming for a couple reasons – exertion a depth may contribute to an increased decompression risk, and secondly we don’t like swimming over boring terrain. Steep slopes tend to be more interesting, with outcropping habitats for fish. Steep slopes often are washed by strong currents which support sea fans and soft corals, which further increase the odds of interesting habitat.

The site turned out to be a pretty good one – the deep part ended in gently sloping sand around 285ft, so we turned around, but on our slow ascent, we found a steep ridge that held an elaborate cave system and lots of marine life. Dave may have seen a deep ridge dropping away from the base of the cave at 175ft that could run down to our desired deep reefs. We will likely try this site again tomorrow.

Clownfish in anemone (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Clownfish in anemone (Amphiprion ocellaris)

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