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