Underwater time has been a highlight of the past month.  The waters are gin clear as long as you time it right.  High, slack time is the best time to snorkel, especially around the cuts of the island chain.  This is when the clear ocean waters have washed in and life is teaming with fresh nutrients coming in from the sea.

The corals appear to be singing with joy as they open their polyps wide to take in the bounty.  Even as the reefs are in rough shape, shifting into the perspective of the photographer or marine enthusiast easily reveals the beauty of life thriving.  I love to see corals in full bloom, so to speak.

I’m still getting to know all of the types of coral and their variations ~ sea rods, brain coral, leaf coral, star coral, etc ~ and have found a few new types to identify.  

Elliptical star coral

Elliptical star coral

Smooth star coral

Thin lettuce leaf coral

Clubtip finger coral

I also came across clusters of button tunicates in a couple of small rock crevices around the same rock.  The tunicates are 1/4” each and form a small colony of a handful of individuals surrounding a shared excurrent siphon.  These colonies often cluster together in a protected place while in position to take in food from the currents.

You can see the scale of the button tunicates next to a saddled blenny, who was vying for my attention the whole time I was taking photos of the tunicates.  

Finally, I gave him my full attention and you can see above that he is just 1.5 inches long next to my gloved fingers.

My last snorkel in the Ragged islands for the year was another picture perfect day.  Not only was I with two of my favorite people Rita & Leslie, but we lingered in the warming waters for hours to find plenty of fish to greet us (including a bull shark, who we left to his own reef).

I found several fish that I don’t see in the Bahamas often or that are hard to photograph.  

Busy beaugregory

Reef squirrelfish getting a cleaning

Rainbow wrasse (new to me)

Juvenile rock beauty

Fairy basslet hanging upside-down

Strawberry grouper (aka rock hind)

Dusky squirrelfish

Barred hamlet

Coney grouper

It was a phenomenal fish day!!!

© M&M 2019