Sea Soup

Just now, a flying fish landed on the outstretched mosquito net of one of our forward cabin hatches. There are fish scales already drying up on the net, and a strong smell of fish through the boat.

The flying fish crashed off onto Quest’s forward deck. By the strength of the thud, I don’t think it survived the ordeal. It’s late now. In the morning, we’ll know for sure. It may be lying stiff as a corpse. We found another flying fish in the dinghy the other morning having suffered the same fate. It’s ‘wings’ were folded up on its sides. Amazing how high these bird fish can fly – especially if something is chasing it. I’m glad the net was pulled tight, otherwise we would have had a fish flapping in the bedroom. Boat problems…

Jack and I went for a dive off Quest over the weekend. The sea right now is definitely different to when we first arrived in Bonaire. For a start it’s cold! I know I keep saying that like it means anything. It’s 25 degrees C. But it was 30 degrees C for a long while – so it does make a relative difference. Sorry. Even I’m going to read this in a number of years and hate myself. 25 degrees is cold?!

This temperature drop has brought some change to the reef’s ecosystem though. For starters, much of the coral which bleached white late last year is back to its normal coral colour. The algae living inside the coral has returned. The coral goes back to business as usual. There are still some corals – including plate corals, which are still very snowy. Hopefully they’ll also recover. It’s been interesting to witness coral bleaching as a reversible biological process – as long as the coral doesn’t die off in the meantime.

The second colder water change is the visibility of the water. When we first arrived to Bonaire, you could get to the bottom of the reef at around 40m deep, and look up to see the surface in crystal-clear technicolour. Nowadays, the top of the reef looks much darker and gloomy. The ceiling ripple of the surface looks very far, far away. Spooky.

This change is due to lots of plankton in the water. You have tiny fish larvae floating around, zooplankton as globular cells with little bits sticking off of them and gelatinous creatures drifting past. It’s a veritable soup right now.

The other day, Delph and I went in for a swim round Quest. We were greeted by piles and piles of comb jellies. These are the ctenophore jellyfish which have four dark spots on their cuboid-style bodies. Their cilia – tiny moving hairs, create a row of pulsating rainbow lights.

The comb jellies retract and propel themselves forward when you touch them. Plus they aren’t from the stinging jellyfish, the Medusozoa, so you can touch them gently without being stung. It’s impossible not to when they file past. Every part of you gets a comb jelly hug. Not a flying fish hug though. I don’t want one of those.

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