That means Juliet is back in town – and so are all the creatures. The image above was captured by Divemaster Liz. Captain Nate saw a strange ripple on the surface of the water, and crew and passengers saw a shadow below. Folks jumped in on snorkel gear to catch a glimpse of this very rare sight in Bimini – a “small” whaleshark (size estimates were around 12-14 feet)!
Nudibranch and sea slug are still around, including congregations of sea hares and headshield slugs. One black featureless creature had us stumped, but was identified as the Migaya Felis headshield slug, seen mating in the sand at Grouper on the Head along with the Swallow Tail Headshield slug. If you get bored of the sharks down around Bull Run, GOTH, and 777, stick your head in the sand, you won’t be disappointed!
We’re also excited to report sighting 3 sets of turtle tracks on the beach of Cay Cay near Kitten Cove! Stay tuned for hatchling watch in about 50-60 days. Kat identified them as Loggerhead tracks based on the alternating “apostrophe” track through binoculars, but do they lead to and from nests or were they “False crawls”? Keep reading for more on Sea Turtles of the Bahamas.
Sea Turtles are some of our favorite creatures to spot, and spring time is a great time to get some close encounters, especially with Loggerhead turtles looking to find a mate. May is breeding season for this, and other species of turtles around the Bahamas, but these hard-shelled giants tend to get a little up close and personal to tell if that big thing off in the distance is a potential mate or a scuba diver – so be prepared to swim out of their way!
In the fall of 2014, the Bahamas officially prohibited “the harvesting, possession, purchase, and sale of sea turtles, their parts, and their eggs,” and the difference can already be seen only 3 and a half years later. The population of Green Turtles in the area is booming, and anecdotally, Loggerhead nests in the Bahamas are on the rise as well.
Did you know? Not all Turtle tracks on the beach lead to nests. Occassionally turtles will crawl up the beach but abandon nesting attempts because of nearby disturbances, ground cover issues and obstructions, or predators interrupting their nesting attempt. The crawl marks seen on the beach at Cat Cay could be 3 separate nests from 3 separate female Loggerhead turtles, or a series of crawls by a single female that may not have resulted in a nest at all. Maybe we’ll find out in 50-60 days – night dive / hatchling watch at Moxon Rocks the end of June anyone?
Many of our crew – and passengers – have been diving in the Bimini area for over 20 years, and recognize that while some dive sites are without argument better than others, there are many that are highly underrated and deserve a little more time and attention. Turtle Rocks – AKA Big Greenie and South Turtle – falls under this category, and in recent years has certainly been putting on a show! Conservation efforts and their successes in the Bahamas are evident here, as divemasters used to joke that you never see turtles at Turtle rocks, and that the name came from drunk Bahamians thinking the rocks looked like turtles from afar. No longer, though! Juvenile Green turtles are now seen here regularly, and attentive divers can be treated to all kinds of creatures large and small at this unassuming dive site.
A ledge system that runs for about a half a mile, Turtle Rocks is a shallow site that might appear to just be a rubble pile and a few tiny coral heads to some. But bring a flashlight and curiosity, there’s much more to be found. Turtle Rocks is one of the few sites you can regularly find both juvenile and adult High Hats, a close uncommon cousin of the popular Spotted Drum (pictured above), as well as dozens of species of Cardinalfish, blennies, and eels beyond the usual green and spotted morays; Chain Morays and Golden Tail Morays are regularly seen in the shallows near the rocks. Attentive divers can also be treated to Spotted Eagle Ray squadron drive-bys, the occasional Reef Shark, or the small and curious Atlantic Sharpnose Shark that may come over from Triangle Rocks (where South Bimini’s Sharklab does regular research) to investigate.
Take your time, breathe deep, and don’t forget the small stuff!