Sunday, August 24, 2008

Turneffe Tales Left Untold: Part 1

I'm back in the USA, but I have left many tales from Turneffe left untold. I didn't finish the research or polish the photos, but here are some ideas that you may pursue on your next trip to Belize.

Fish Tails:

I planned on doing a detailed expose on Barry (from Barry and the Turtle) the barracuda that lives under the Oceanic Society field station's dock. Barry was usually the first fish that new snorkelers at the site were introduced to. Barry always sat under the dock with a collection of hundreds of grunts and snapper around him. The first thing that I wanted to ask Barry, if I'd had the chance, was if he was a boy or a girl. We all call "him" Barry, but I have a sneaky feeling that he is a girl. I had hundreds of opportunities to see Barry, but somehow my camera would always ignore "his" presence. I would fill my entire frame with Barry and my camera would decide to focus on the sliver of coral twenty feet behind Barry on the side. Without a reasonable pic, my report was hampered and here it ends.

An algae-covered, gulping sting:
You know that I love ugly fish and scorpionfish are right up my alley. I happened upon this handsome fella while on a dive near the southern tip of the atoll; the algae on its back was streaming back-and-forth in the wave action. Just remember, no matter how cute they look, don't pet the little fellas. They have a number of protein toxins in their spines. Brushing these spines may dramatically slow your heart and respiration and cause a severe drop in blood pressure. The toxins also have hemolytic (break red blood cells), hemorrhagic (cause bleeding), and proteolytic (break down protein) effects. Fortunately, they usually just sit and stare at you, so you can get up pretty close to admire them. Ummm, avoid stepping on them too.

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