Under the Sea

By Pat Hudson

If you have never been snorkelling, or even if you are very experienced at the sport, snorkelling is one of the most relaxing ways to explore the local reefs and observe the abundant marine life. While snorkelling, make sure you always keep at least 1 arms length off the coral – this is for your own safety. If you are shallower, you are in danger of being lifted up by a swell, and dropped rather hard onto the coral … not an experience to be repeated.

Come with me, and we’ll explore the magnificent reef at San Augustin together. We start by preparing our equipment. You either apply commercial anti-fog drops, or good old-fashioned spit inside your mask. Rub this around the inside of your mask, and then rinse out in the ocean. Place your mask on your face, and pull the strap over your head, positioning it comfortably. The snorkel is attached to your mask, and is usually on the left side of your face mask. Don your flippers, and enter the water!

As we approach the roped-off area, look for the large orange buoy closest to the beach … and observe the baby Sergeant-Major fish clustered amongst the rope for safety from predators. As you begin to swim over the reef, you will be greeted by brightly coloured fish, striped brown, yellow and blue … these are Rainbow Rock Wrasse – and they love to be fed bread crumbs, or crackers.

You will also see many roundish shaped fish; blue with white dots … these are Guinea Fowl Puffer fish. Now look in the nooks and crannies … do you see the tiny fish that are electric blue … and also some that are slightly bigger, with electric blue dots. You have just met the Juvenile Damsel fish. The adult fish is the large blue fish you see nibbling at the coral. It is not unusual to see large schools of fish – quite often these are sardines.

If you dive into the midst of them, they will circle you – quite an unusual feeling I can tell you! And quite often you will see below these schools fish that look sort of like trumpets … these are Coronet fish, and they feed on the smaller sardines. If the visibility is good, make sure you follow the edge of the reef and look down at the sandy bottom. You may be lucky and see some nice rays relaxing in the sand. Don’t worry – as long as you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

So … get your gear and get going. Remember … take only pictures, leave only footprints in the sand. Happy snorkelling!

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