Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Invisibles: A Variety of Disappearing Acts

I've posted on magic tricks before, but this is different. Sometimes I spend much of my dive off of the reef and in the sand. May dive sites on Bonaire have large sandy stretches between the beach and the reef. Others have sand at the base of the reef (deep) or between the two reefs in the double-reef areas of the island (also deep). One site with vast areas of shallow sand is called "The Invisibles." I don't know how it got its name but perhaps it is because so many things living there tend to disappear. Initially all you see at this site is hovering trunkfish quietly blowing into the sand and hovering about. Every direction looks the same -- sand, blue, algae, trunkfish -- I often stare at my compass to figure out where I am. Upon close inspection of the sand, it's clear that it is teaming with life near it, in it or on it. What types of disappearing acts do you find here? Find out for yourself; find the fish in the picture below. Do you see it? It takes up about a third of the width of the picture.

Here, watch it move.

Now you can see the peacock flounder in the sand better. Given its location this one is staying sandy colored, but they can change color quickly. They have beautiful blues on them at times. (I saw several of these moving in the distance and I kept my eyes fixed on that point as I swam up to see them. Almost without fail, I failed to find them when I got to where I thought they were.)

If you've been looking for flounder, then you've found that your head is pretty much in the sand at this point, which is a good place to look for sand divers like the little one below. They actually get pretty big and they don't always hide very well, but this one is trying to disappear.
Pulling your head out of the sand and scanning across the surface, you may see many small, curved fish sitting just above the bottom. These are probably razorfish (shaped like a folded straight razor). I love what they do when you get close (see in the video).

That's are real disappearing act.

Garden eels perform a slower disappearing act which is frustrating if you want to get a picture of the cute little eels. While in a deeps sandy patch (the video below is at 90ft), I wandered into a bed of these eels. As I approached, hundreds of heads and thin, curved bodies poked out of holes in the sand. Then, as always with these eels, as I got closer they got shorter and shorter and finally disappeared.

Those are a few disappearing acts that take place under the sea. What a magical place!

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