Nov 222014
 

The Carribean Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea) is one of my favorite reef creatures to observe.  Sometimes shy, and often curious, every encounter with this cephalopod is unique.

squid the rock S 1024x768 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Reef Squid in Bonaire

Reef squid are often found in schools in shallow reef areas.  Some encounters are brief, as a disturbed or threatened squid can employ jet propulsion to swiftly exit the area (blink and you’ll miss it).

The Eye The Rock S 819x1024 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Reef Squid Eye, The Rock Dive Site – Bonaire

Yet an experienced diver, snorkeler, fish watcher or photographer can occasionally enjoy a prolonged encounter by staying relatively still, approaching slowly and avoiding exaggerated or quick movements.

squid trio 1024x731 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Squid Trio, Bari Reef Dive Site – Bonaire

Reef Squid Bari Reef M 1024x819 Creature Feature   The Carribean Reef Squid

Here are some cool facts about the Reef Squid.

-This species communicates and sends signals by changing it’s body color.  If it senses a threat, it will turn very pale while retreating.

-Both male and female Reef Squid die after reproducing.

-It is known to consumer 30-60% of its body weight per day.

m4s0n501
Nov 052014
 

Being that I’m from the United States, I’ve never really researched Cuban reefs or dive resorts.  What’s the point if I can’t visit?  But on a recent daytime flight from Bonaire to Houston, I was mesmerized by a series of gorgeous reefs in the aquamarine waters below.

cuban bay with engine 1024x768 Cuban Reefs from the Air   An American Obsesses Over Forbidden Fruit

A quick look at the flight path told me that I was looking at Cuba.  I was floored.  Yes, I know that there is diving in Cuba, but I never envisioned reefs this extensive or beautiful.

cuban bay 1024x731 Cuban Reefs from the Air   An American Obsesses Over Forbidden Fruit

As I gazed downward, I sighted a lone resort perched on the edge of a glorious bay.  My travel-curious mind went into overdrive.  What resort could this be?  Remote, on a reef with a deepwater bay, white beach – what else could you want in a resort?  It has to be a dive resort, I thought.

cuba reef with resort3 1024x768 Cuban Reefs from the Air   An American Obsesses Over Forbidden Fruit

Here’s a closer look.

cuba reef with resort2 1024x768 Cuban Reefs from the Air   An American Obsesses Over Forbidden Fruit

Obsessed, I immediately googled cuban dive resorts upon landing.  A few minutes of research, combined with the knowledge of our flight path, told me I was most probably looking at Maria la Gorda.  Located on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula (a UNESCO Biosphere reserve), resort literature boasts that “Experienced divers rave about the diving, ranging from vertical walls to coral canyons, tunnels, and caves, and even the remains of Spanish galleons.”

Perfect!  So I’ve scouted a remote dive-haven that I can’t visit.

To the rest of the world, have you dived Cuba?  Can you confirm the identity of the mystery resort?  Been to Maria la Gorda?  Is it as beautiful as it looks from the air?  Should I apply for a permit to visit Cuba?

Nov 022014
 

One of our favorite Bonaire dive sites for photography is the Salt Pier.   This T-shaped working pier provides virtually unlimited opportunity for both macro and wide angle shots.

Salt Pier  1024x767 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Pier Tower 768x1024 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

The rocky entry just north of the pier can be slightly tricky (not to mention slippery), especially if there is wave action.  Some divers choose to enter from the south where there is a small sandy channel, but the swim to the pier is significantly further from this entry point.

old boston whaler at salt pier 1024x767 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

An old Boston Whaler lies on the shore at the northern entry

Dive trucks at salt pier 1024x682 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Dive trucks at the site’s northern entry

The variety of sea life at this site never ceases to amaze.  This beautiful (and large) Rainbow Parrotfish greeted us at 15 ft (4.5m) as we entered the water).

rainbow parrot salt pier m 1024x768 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Rainbow Parrotfish

And this sea turtle swam with us out towards the reef.

Sea Turtle Salt PIer M 1024x731 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Green Sea Turtle

Under the pier’s pilings, Striped Grunts, Black Margates, Schoolmasters and other fish appear in large schools.

schooling grunts salt pier s 1024x819 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Schooling grunts Salt Pier M 1024x731 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

black margate salt pier s 1024x731 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

A lone Black Margate

schoolmaster salt pier s 1024x731 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

A Schoolmaster hides rather than schools

Tarpon and Barracuda are often found (sometimes in large numbers) at the end of the pier (at a depth of 45-60 ft/13-18m).

tarpon salt pier s 1024x683 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Tarpon Salt Pier M 1024x682 Under Bonaires Salt Pier

Make sure to use your compass while diving this site.  Due to the shape of the pier, it’s easy to become disoriented when swimming back to shore.

More on Bonaire’s Dive Sites

Diving Bonaire’s Salt Pier

Bari Reef

Front Porch

Oct 242014
 

I’ve recently written about the great planespotting opportunities on Bonaire.  At Flamingo Airport, getting up close and personal with arriving jumbo jets is as easy as pulling your vehicle off of the road.

Yesterday I went to photograph Arkefly’s Dreamliner as it arrived on Bonaire from Amsterdam.  Apparently, I’m not the only planespotting geek enthusiast on the island, because several others were waiting, camera in hand, for its arrival.  Since I arrived several minutes early, I took some shots of Windsock beach, which lies just on the airport’s outskirts.

Windsock Beach 1024x768 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

Looking south from Windsock/Corporal Meiss dive sites

Windsock view to town 1024x768 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

View towards town

Tattoosh 1024x767 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

Paul Allen’s Tattoosh in the harbor

After a few minutes, I spotted the Dreamliner on its final approach.

Dreamliner incoming 1024x768 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

I wonder if the pilots notice the camera wielding people waiting at the start of the runway?  It’s likely they have more important things on which to concentrate, I hope I suppose.

Dreamliner incoming2 1024x768 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

Dreamliner incoming3 1024x768 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

A bit blurry despite a 1/250 shutter speed

Touching down 1024x767 Boeings Dreamliner in Bonaire

Touchdown

My favorite tool for tracking incoming flights is Flight Aware.  It’s a helpful tool for real time flight data, so you don’t have to miss a photo op for those pesky early arrivals.