Frogfish

Frogfish

Description and Features

The frogfish is a unique, distinct creature of the anglerfish species. They are true masters of disguise and almost do not resemble a fish at all with their strangely shaped pectoral fins, which look more like legs than fins. They patiently wait for prey, completely motionless and camouflaged in their environment. Frogfish don't move much, but they can be seen "walking" or crawling slowly along crevices in the reef as they position themselves to feed.

The frogfish has a "lure" atop its head, which is an actual extension of its dorsal spine, with "bait” at the tip of this attraction that looks like a small shrimp, worm or fish perhaps. The unsuspecting prey is attracted to the "bait”, and the frogfish pounces suddenly, engulfing the easy meal with lightning-fast accuracy. 

Red Frogfish.jpg


Fun Fact

We learned that this particular yellow frogfish had been sighted at about 75 feet deep several feet away from a certain underwater reef cropping at the house reef of a small inn on Bonaire. We obtained permission to dive here along with instructions on the frogfish's location from the dive instructor on site, and off we went. It took us three dives to find the frogfish, as he was so well camouflaged, but my buddy was able to capture this great photo, so our search was indeed rewarded.

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Staghorn Coral

Staghorn Coral

Description and Features

Staghorn coral is a stony coral which reaches outward with its many branches, and it is found on the reefs of Florida, the Bahamas, Caribbean Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. One of the largest colonies of this unique coral can be observed underwater in Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited islet just off the northwestern coast of the island of Bonaire.

Fun Fact

The staghorn corals can be tricky to maneuver through when shore diving off of the rocky, far northwestern coast on Bonaire. Their large branches shoot straight out from the sea floor in shallower water, making it a challenge to find an area deep enough to put fins on and then snorkel out to the deeper drop off for a dive. Though not for the faint of heart, the diving here is surely worth it once you learn to navigate the more difficult shore entries and exits. 

Tarpon

Tarpon

Description and Features

The tarpon is commonly found in the waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, and Florida, but another tarpon species resides in the Indo-Pacific. You will usually find this fish in schools during the day, and larger schools may inhabit a particular area on a reef for years. The tarpon actively feeds at night, and they can grow up to a size of about eight feet (2.4 meters).

 

Fun Fact

It's amazing to watch the larger tarpon schools during the day, but even more thrilling to observe them feed at night. Most tarpon we have encountered are not too worried about divers, but they will swim off if pursued.

During a night dive, this particular critter swam right next to me, swooshing by my head as he made a pass for the tiny fish swarming around my powerful dive light. I was so startled at his size that I really did scream underwater in my regulator! But once I composed myself and realized that he was only around to eat dinner, it was truly breathtaking to watch him feed. 

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray

Description and Features

The Southern Stingray is commonly found in the waters of the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, or as far north as New Jersey and as far south as Brazil. They have large, agile, disk-shaped bodies with long whip-like tails that contain one or two venomous spines at the base. 

Fun Fact


It is a known fact that a reality TV personality and wildlife expert was inadvertently killed a few years ago by a ray who pierced him in the chest with his tail spine. That said, all of the stingrays we’ve ever encountered have been incredibly eager to get away from us and tend to stay buried in the sand unless threatened, and they prefer to swim far away from scuba divers.

The ray pictured here was no exception. We saw him as we were floating just off of the reef over the sand, getting ready to complete another excellent shore dive in Bonaire. This guy was nestled in the sand, and my buddy saw his eyeballs stir and follow his every movement as we swam over him. 

As we slowly circled back to get a better look at this gentle giant, he fluttered his body and stirred the sand as he swam to get away from us. My buddy shot this amazing photo of that process. 

Lobsters

Lobsters

Description and Features

Lobsters are bottom-dwellers who use their strong legs to crawl about the ocean floor but can swim backward with dashing speed if they are threatened. These crustaceans are found in most of the world’s oceans and seas and are considered a delicious delicacy for diners around the globe.

Fun Fact 

We’ve seen many lobsters in our diving travels through the years, but a lobster this size is uncommon and was truly a sight to behold as he crawled about the reef during this particular afternoon dive. His body was easily the breadth of my upper thigh.

I told my dive buddy as we exited the water that this particular fella did not get that large by being stupid! He had obviously avoided predators long enough to substantiate his enormous size, but I’ve often wondered if he’s ever wound up on someone’s dinner table. 

Smooth Trunkfish

Smooth Trunkfish

Description and Features

The Smooth Trunkfish is commonly found in the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, Florida and Gulf of Mexico. They typically swim above the reef and over the sandy ocean floor. They are more solitary by nature but will sometimes swim in small groups. 

The Trunkfish is the only member of the Boxfish family without a spine, and their tiny post-larval juveniles are only about the size of a pea, darting about the reef.

Fun Fact


The Smooth Trunkfish is probably my favorite fish in the ocean as they are so cute to watch and stay very busy going about their business on the reef, blowing water out their tiny mouths to expose prey such as small mollusks and worms. They simply never stop moving!

This precious fish kept an eye on us as we swam slowly around him to get pictures and cooperated fairly well being photographed as long as we did not get too close. 

Iguana Lizard

Iguana Lizard

 

Description and Features


This unusual Iguana lizard typically lives on rocks around the coast in tropical climates, diving into the sea occasionally to feed on marine algae or seed weed. They have short, blunt snouts and razor-sharp teeth, which assist them in scraping food off of the rocks as well. 

Marine iguanas are also strong swimmers, and males defend groups of females against rival males during mating season.

Fun Fact


This particular mammoth critter claimed his domain just near a local restaurant and dive shop near the water on Bonaire. We observed him chasing other lizards away so he could feast on french fries, fish scraps and other tidbits dropped on the ground by diners and divers alike. 

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Description and Features


The cuttlefish is closely related to the Caribbean reef squid, and these graceful creatures are often found in shallower waters in the Caribbean, South Florida and the Bahamas. The cuttlefish has two well-developed eyes, with pupils shaped like a W.  The entire length of their elongated body is surrounded by a very thin fin. They communicate by changing color or when they become excited. 

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Fun Fact


This cuttlefish couple below followed us for most of a dive one afternoon as my dive buddy - who is also a professional underwater photographer - was taking pictures of the reef at about 25-30 feet. The critters observed us carefully and seemed intrigued by our movements as we hovered over the reef, as long as we did not attempt to swim towards them. 

We were also fascinated by their behavior and intelligence: As we reached out and held hands a couple of times while they were just in front of us, this pair also reached over to each other with their tentacles, like they were also trying to “hold hands!” We repeated our gesture several times just to watch them mimic us. If we had not observed this with our own eyes, we would have never believed it!

 

Cuttlefish Couple

Cuttlefish Couple