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January 2010

 

sea turtleThis month is once again dedicated to the underwater life that we have an opportunity to enjoy. We made a point of being in the water on every good weather day in the month.

We welcomed the new decade snorkeling and spear fishing at Lighthouse Reef, Belize. John started the new decade by spearing a beautiful grouper. Mike and Gloria on Windfree, invited us over for a "traditional Southern" New Year's Day meal. Gloria cooked collard greens, black-eyed peas and ham. Ann made cornbread muffins and a key lime pie. It was a great meal and we hope that the meal will bring us good-luck and prosperity in 2010.

 The cloudy, windy weather from December continued into January. We were only in the water for three days in the two remaining weeks we spent at Lighthouse Reef. We finally had a long enough period of calm weather to head to Honduras before a strong cold front hit. For the expected high winds of the cold front, we choose to anchor in a very protected harbor with no facilities nearby. We spent five days all alone in this remote anchorage when the winds were strong and the temperatures were in the 60's. All our ports and hatches were closed and we wore long pants, long sleeves and socks. We spent a lot of time watching episodes of the television series Lost on DVD, reading books, and completing exercises in puzzle books. The most surprising thing is that we didn't kill each other during that five-day period!

Moray eel (find his white eye to identify his head)

moray eel

Our diving treated us to some interesting underwater behavior. On our first dive of the year, we watched two large lobsters fighting or mating just under a rock. One of our cruising friends researched lobster mating on the internet and we learned that what we probably witnessed was a fight between two males trying to prove dominance prior to mating. On another dive we saw one of the largest moray eels we have ever seen.   Unfortunately, all our diving and most of our snorkeling in Roatan was in a marine park, so we could not spear any of the large fish we saw.

 

garden eelsThis year we revisited the dive site with garden eels. From a distance, garden eels are poking out of the sand and swaying in the current like a weed growing on the bottom. As the eel senses someone or something near, all the eels quickly disappear into the sand and there is only a smooth sand surface where there were once dozens of small thin eels swaying in the current. Ann's favorite was a turtle hanging out on a wall not paying us any attention. As we descended down to the level of the turtle, we could see that he was looking under a rock at a large lobster. It appeared that the turtle was just stopping by for his early morning visit with the lobster. 

Garden eels swaying in the current


Lionfish in Belize

  lionfish in Belize

 While in Belize and Roatan, we have been shocked at the number of lionfish we have seen on the coral reefs. The lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific region and was believed to be introduced into the Caribbean when six lionfish were released from an aquarium during hurricane Andrew in the early 1990s. The lionfish are protected by venomous spines and are voracious eaters. A lionfish can eat a fish up to 2/3 its own size and researchers have observed lionfish eat as many as 20 small fish in a 30 minute period. Our sightings of lionfish have been in "nursery areas " with a wide variety of small beautiful reef fish. They seem to hang out where they can keep their tummies full.  Lionfish have few known predators and researchers believe they pose a major threat to coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region. The countries of Belize and Honduras are encouraging divers to capture or kill lionfish whenever they are spotted. When we see at least one lionfish each day, it seems that we may be fighting a losing battle. 

We started to have generator problems near the end of the month and finally decided that we needed the assistance of a diesel mechanic on mainland Honduras.  As the month ended, we were at the La Ceiba shipyard awaiting the shipment of parts and a repair on our generator.  Our fun will end for the next few weeks as we concentrate on boat projects.  It may be Livin the Dream, but it can't be fun every day.

 

Ann the diverJohn the diver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann the diver                                                                    John the diver