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Posted By Robin & Jim

We've really been enjoying all the time spent snorkeling, and one of our favorite spots has been Thunderball Grotto, made famous in the James Bond movie of the same name.  The grotto takes up most of the inside of a fairly small rock island with about a third of it underwater.  You have to wait for slack tide to get into the cave since it's near a cut between the Bank and the ocean with a healthy tidal flow - the timing is critical.

thunderball grotto

There are several holes in the roof so you can float on the surface and see the sky, and the sun can create some dramatic lighting effects.

thunderball light shaft
The cave is full of fish and brightly colored sponges, and it's fun to imagine Sean Connery and a film crew making "movie magic".
thunderball sponge

All through the Exumas the snorkeling has been great, though the patches we can get to without too much current are getting smaller as we move down the chain.  You never know what you'll find - sometimes the smallest patch of coral or rock can have an amazing collection of sea life - this rock had corals, two small nurse sharks (one didn't like being photographed), small jacknife fish with impossibly tall dorsal fins, banded coral shrimp, and a large number of lionfish. 

dan's patch reef

Lionfish are magnificent fish but they belong in the Pacific, not the Caribbean where they have no predators.  They're carniverous and they multiply very rapidly so they are taking over every little patch - it's a huge problem impacting the reefs and small fish populations so we're saddened to see so many lionfish everywhere we go.

In general the fish have been plentiful and beautiful - queen angels with their neon blue crown, gray angels with their surprise patch of yellow inside their pectoral fins, and french angels with each scale edged in bright yellow.  These are "teen angels" (one gray, one french) - getting bigger but they still haven't lost their baby stripes yet.
teen angels
We're at the half-way point in our trip and we just turned north on Monday.  We'll meander back up through the Exuma chain hitting some places we missed on the way south, then over to the west end of Eleuthera and then to the Abaco islands for a few weeks.  We're so lucky to be able to do this, and we don't take any of it for granted.

 
1 Comment(s):
SteveSilver said...
Wow. Those are awesome pictures. Best I have seen! Can't wait to see it in person. Steve MAYA
June 2, 2010 3:56 PM
 
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