Lee Stocking Island
Valt & Sandy
Tue 9 Apr 2013 21:11
Once upon a time the sea was filled with beautiful, colorful reefs occupied by 1000s of beautiful, colorful fish. Besides serving ecology, it was a pleasurable destination for snorkelers and divers alike. In 1980, a disease struck the lowly sea urchin. A homely black fellow with long, menacing spines over his body. In the space of a couple years the illness killed them off by the millions.
Coincidently, the reefs became less colorful, dried, white washed each year. Some said it was global warming, but no one saw much temperature changes in their areas. Others said it was pollution, but the problem was everywhere, even the most remote, little visited places. No answer seemed to fit. Scientists began to look deeper, and wondered if the sea urchin decline was related.
Seems the little creatures were the guardians of the reefs. They preyed on algae and small things that came to the reefs. Once they vanished, the small things took over, coating the reef with white silty material that smothered the corals. The reefs looked like coral boneyards. Lovers of the sea wept at the loss.
Today was a day like all others. But not like any other. We rode around in search of a reef to snorkel. Slipping into the clear turquoise sea, we gasped! This reef was alive. It brimmed with golden brain coral, white tipped fire corals, huge basket sponges, purple fans. Occasional accents of deep burgundy corals and bright oranges. All on a pristine white carpet of sand. But the best was the sea denisons living there. We saw groupers, angel fish, saucer eyes squirrel fish. Queen triggers, jacks, grunts, you name it. We saw a green moray eel. But the prize of the day was a huge scrawled filefish that changed colors before our eyes. No, the prize was the numerous sea urchins we saw.
We reluctantly left the water grinning. It was great knowing the life goes on. Life wants to be.