Mar 282014
 

This post is written by Mr. Reeftraveler (aka Steve).

Mr. Reeftraveler

Mr. Reeftraveler

While following Meredith toward our exit from an early afternoon dive on Bari Reef in Bonaire, I had the scuba diver’s equivalent of a Michael Corleone moment: “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”

At a depth of around 10 feet (3m), with just over 600 psi (41 bar) left in the tank and my buddy headed up the ladder, I was taking a last look back toward the reef when a critter a few feet below the surface caught my eye.

Before I could fully focus on it, the pattern match clicked in my head.  Squid.  That’s where we usually see them – clearish, streamlined with trailing tentacles, hanging just beneath the waterline.  A second later, more thoughts flashed

Not Squid – Jelly?  Need a photo of this.  Let me swim closer.

Tamoya Oboya, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Tamoya Oboya, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Boxy clear head and brightly striped tentacles.  What the heck?  (or the NJ native equivalent)

Don’t remember seeing this in any of the Humann & DeLoach fish or marine creature identification books.

Looks like a big sea wasp, or Australian box jelly, but the tentacles are all wrong.  There are four, and they’re not jelly looking at all – they are opaque and striped in a reddish copper and white banding, with no signs of trailing tendrils.

 Box Jellyfish/Chironex Fleckeri - Photo from Wikipedia Commons - Guido Gautsch, Toyota, Japan

Box Jellyfish/Chironex Fleckeri – Photo from Wikipedia Commons – Guido Gautsch, Toyota, Japan

It’s getting closer.  Back off.  Breathe.  Check gauge.  400 psi.

Dad always said beware critters that make no effort to hide. Those tentacles qualify.  Respect.

Hmmm – there are 4-5 fish swimming alongside it.   Maybe silversides or some kind of juveniles?  Is that one inside the jelly?

Fish Inside Tamoya Oboya, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Tamoya Ohboya, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Time to get some video and get home without bumping into this thing.

Closing on 250psi.  Low on air, time to exit.  Is that another chain moray in 6 feet?  OK, maybe just one more shot…

On exit, got the instant ID from another rare breed – the ever-helpful and supremely knowledgeable Michael G of Bonaire Help Desk – who confirmed it as the Bonaire Banded Box Jellyfish, aka Tamoya Ohboya.  Turns out it is not in the Humann & DeLoach books (yet) and its Wikipedia listing reports roughly 50 confirmed sightings, 45 on Bonaire.  In my 35 years of diving Bonaire, this was certainly a first for me – and a moment I will not soon forget.

For more on Tamoya Ohboya-

Tamoya ohboya – A Rare Sighting in Bonaire

Mar 152014
 

I realize that I’ve inundated you with loads of photos from Bonaire recently.  Typically, I try to post photos from a geographically diverse array of dive and snorkel destinations, but the truth is that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Bonaire during the past year.  We’ve become quite enamored with its diversity of critters, laid-back atmosphere and plethora of shore diving sites.

Here are some shots we took on Bari Reef last month.

Christmas Tree Worm

Christmas Tree Worm

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Porcupinefish

Porcupinefish

Honeycomb Cowfish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Honeycomb Cowfish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Arrow Crabs, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Arrow Crabs, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Peacock Flounder

Peacock Flounder

Scrawled Filefish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Scrawled Filefish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Schooling Grunts, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Schooling Grunts, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Scorpionfish

Scorpionfish

Schoolmaster, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Schoolmaster, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Shy Squirrelfish

Shy Squirrelfish

Trumpetfish

Trumpetfish

In addition to bombarding you with photos, I wanted to give you and update on our photo equipment.  I am now shooting with the following system-

Camera – Canon G16

Housing – RecSea

Strobes –  one Sea & Sea ys-d1 and one Sea & Sea ys-110a

Ultralight tray and arms

Mr. Reeftraveler is now shooting with the following-

Camera – Canon S120

Housing – RecSea

Strobes – two Sea & Sea ys-d1

Ultralight tray and arms

Sola 1200 photo light

We both upgraded in December, and so far we are very pleased with the new gear.

Are you considering an upgrade to one of the models we use?  If so, I’m happy to answer your questions if you leave me a comment.

Mar 092014
 

In my last post, I promised to show you what we found at 90 feet (27 m) at Bonaire’s Front Porch Dive Site.

The wreck of the tugboat New York sits upside down on the sandy bottom, with its bow facing north.

Bow of the New York

Bow of the New York

Portholes

Portholes

Her remains provide shelter for many different types of sea life, including a large yellow moray which we have yet to sight.

View from the stern

View from the stern

Mr. Reeftraveler exploring the wreck

Mr. Reeftraveler – searching for the yellow moray

Meredith diving the New York

Meredith diving the New York

When diving this site, be sure to explore the sandy areas around the wreck.  We found several interesting critters in the sand such as the garden eels and yellowhead jawfish which I showed you in my last post.

Wreck of the tugboat New York in Bonaire

In my experience, Front Porch is an interesting site that is often overlooked.  It’s well worth a dive if you are in the area.

Have you dived this site?  What did you find there?

Mar 012014
 

Bonaire is known for its abundance of shore diving sites, and it’s almost impossible to dive even half of them in a typical trip.  We tend to stick to 3-4 sites and familiarize ourself with them before moving on.  Recently, we explored Front Porch for the first time.

Front Porch is located just south of Bari Reef.  It can be accessed from the shore at the former Sunset Beach Resort or from the Bari Reef entrances (such as Bonaire Dive and Adventure’s Pier or the beach at Den Laman Condos).

Rainbow over Bonaire Dive and Adventure's Pier

Rainbow over Bonaire Dive and Adventure’s Pier

Beach Entry to Bari Reef at Den Laman Condos, access is public

Beach Entry to Bari Reef at Den Laman Condos, access is public

This is an easy dive which is suitable for divers of all levels.  During our dives the current was minimal, and the visibility was below average for Bonaire (about 50-60 feet or 15 – 18m).  The reef starts at about 20 feet (6m), and becomes more abundant at 30 feet (9m).  We found that a depth of 40-60 feet was optimal for coral viewing.  The coral wall slopes down to a sandy bottom, where the wreck of the tugboat New York lies upside down at 90 feet.

As we swam out to the site, we were greeted by a beautiful spotted eagle ray.

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Swimming out to Front Porch

Swimming out to Front Porch, Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

We sighted a large midnight parrotfish as we started to descend on the wall, and a lone lionfish just below.

Midnight Parrotfish

Midnight Parrotfish, Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Hopefully it has been removed

Hopefully it has been removed

At around 80 feet, I spied a field of garden eels on the sandy bottom.  These skittish creatures are notoriously difficult to photograph, but an extremely slow and cautious approach can pay off.

Garden Eels

Garden Eels

Just above the wreck, this shy yellowhead jawfish made a momentary appearance before disappearing into its hole.

This shy yellowhead jawfish made a momentary appearance

Yellowhead Jawfish

While I was enthralled with the garden eels, Mr. Reeftraveler captured the beauty of some other colorful subjects.

Brittlestar, Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Brittlestar, Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Curious Damselfish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

Curious Damselfish, by Mr. Reeftraveler

In my next post, I’ll show you what we found at 90 feet.