April 21, 2010

Snorkel trip: The Kingdom of the Lionfish

A pair of lionfish (Source).

WOW! That was a surprising encounter. After work I often take the time to go snorkeling over the coral reefs here. My wish to find a (rare) lionfish was finally fulfilled yesterday afternoon: I swam to my favourite place on the reef: a small cleaning station. Fishes of all sizes and colours swim there to have any parasites removed from their bodies by smaller cleaning fishes. So there is always a lot of action going on at this spot.

At first I wasn't sure and dived closer: But it was a beautiful lionfish! After I caught my breath again, I went down more times and found out that he was not alone: He had the company of two other lionfishes! I was so excited that I swallowed a lot of sea water and had to force myself to breathe normally. They did not feel disturbed by me at all and I could take my time to look at them closely. I got so close that I could have touched them (which I did not of course). They are just as beautiful as I imagined them to be!

A white moray lurking under a coral-covered rock. (Source)

Another (at first frightening) encounter: I saw a long white moray eel moving over the sea floor (at least 1 m!), trying to hide himself in the cracks and crevices of the reef. Lucky me it wasn't a sea snake...

A sea cucumber, surrounded by curious Anemone fishes. (Source)

And those creatures also are a little alien to me: Black holothurians (sea cucumber)! I dived very closely to them, but how can you guess that you deal with a living organism? They are not moving at all! And heaven they are big! I also saw anemonefishes, close to their host anemone.