The Undersea World of Sara and Phil

Wed 8 May 2013 22:26
Inside the reef, looking back towards Canouan

Some of the other places we've snorkelled have been more beautiful. For example Sandy Island, Carriacou and White Rock, Canouan had the most wonderfully colourful sponges, sea fans and corals imaginable. However, some of the things that make the Tobago Cays so special are how relaxed the abundant turtle population are about having you close (;  the sheer magnificence of the reef dropoff and overall, the incredibly clear water.

When you first duck your head down, still standing on the sand of the beach, at first you see nothing alive. Then you realise that hundreds of sand coloured fish are all around you, sparkling as they turn, only really visible when against something darker like corals. Then some larger fish swim by, almost transparent except for an eye, the 'V' of a tail and two sweeping fins. 


As your eye follows them you spot something strange against the sand: perfect little hexagons! It's a Trunkfish, black and white, hexagons on his sides and spots on top. These fish have a rigid skeleton in a box shape, so the only bits of him that can move are his fins, tail, mouth and eyes. This makes them such fun to watch because they have to fiffle their fins really hard to swim along. Now and again they blow jets of water into the sand with their pursed lips to try to dislodge something to eat. This one was against some coral so I was able to catch a snap of him.


Dotted about on the sand are underwater 'islands' of coral, these have sea fans and sponges as well as corals and its here that you start to see the larger and more colourful fish.

Unknown stripey fish and a Blue Tang

Parrotfish and two Sergeant Major fish.

Some fish seem to be based around a particular coral or sea fan. You can just hang in the water above them watching them go about their lives, fussing over who's come too close, who might eat some of your algae, and whether the other fish of your type have something more interesting then you do. 

Foureyed Butterfly fish

Others roam in groups of up to hundreds of fish, sometimes all the same, sometimes different species travelling together. I expected to be able to just snap and you'd see the hundreds and hundreds of fish all round us, but what actually happened was the pictures seemed to have loads of fast moving smudges on them, not readily identifiable as fish, and the clear sparkly ones didn't show up at all.

These splodges are mostly Blue Tang.

It was particularly wonderful at the reef drop off, where it suddenly shelves to a hundred feet or more, and you look down through layers and layers of fish, and look up to see cruising Barracudas  and even Reef Sharks.

The sea fans are so delicately beautiful, waving in flow and ebb of the water, and the coral is fascinating with its intricate designs.


So we're getting better at the new career of underwater photographers. I manage to think the camera is off when it's on and on when it's off less often now (you can't see the display in the bright sunlight when it's inside a waterproof case!) and am starting to aim in the right direction mostly. It's frustrating not being able to capture the scale and beauty we're seeing around us, but we've been having fun trying anyway!