Monday, May 7, 2012

Underwater Wonders

Manatees in Salinas, PR
On the morning of the day that the winds had settled down enough for us to leave Salinas, we re-anchored in the entrance to the bay where the mangrove water had better visibility for Sim to clean the eco system that was growing on the bottom of our boat.  He donned his snorkel and mask and slipped in to the water with strict instructions for me to keep watch as we had been told that the manatees (seacows) like to come and see what you are up to.  Sure enough ten minutes later I heard a splash in the tranquil water and saw the wide flat tail of a manatee disappear below the surface. I told Sim who swiftly made an exit out of the water. (he was scared)  For despite the gentle reputations of these giant aquatic creatures he didn’t fancy one brushing up against him, especially as it seemed to be a mother with a pup and visibility was about 1ft.  It was amazing to watch these animals that were at least as long as Sim if not more and twice as wide, with their curiosity of the boat and their natural affection for each other.  They constantly played and frolicked and nuzzled each other tenderly and I wish I’d had the courage to jump in with them. But I didn’t.  It’s a shame their population are dwindling with the ever growing presence of marine traffic and their unassuming and slow manner that all too often has them in the path of a fast spinning propeller.
Green Beach, Vieques, PR

Sand Dollar
Hermit Crab in Conch Shell
We left Salinas with smiles on our faces, happy to glimpse these shy animals in their natural habitat. Heading back east into the trade winds is never easy in a sail boat especially one with a little engine like ours.  But the next day the winds were so light and the currents favourable that we made it all the way to Green Beach at the west end of Vieques in the Spanish Virgins.  Vieques, as I have said before belonged to the US military which for over 50 years used this tropical island for target practice.  Now it is a wildlife refuge and so far untouched by tourism.  Green beach is just that, a beautiful sweep of golden beach fringed by tall palms trees.  The water is the clearest we have seen in a long time.  The weather was squally most days but still we swam and snorkelled everyday. Despite there being no reef to speak of there were unusual sea urchins, sand dollars, rays, conch shells, all sorts of things to keep us splashing about.
Unusual sea urchin
Today we have arrived in a bay called Puerto Ferro, it is a bio luminous bay which means that at night you can see phosphorescent.  If you jump in and splash about you can see the phosphorescent glow and sparkle like a thousand lights.  This needs to be seen to be believed so we will get back to you……

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