Fall Collecting Trip #8: Rum pa pum pum, me and my (Spotted) Drum!

Today’s first dive site was at Paquett Rocks, a collection of small to medium boulder reefs. Before we dive at a new site we all sit together and have a "chalk talk", where the captains draw a sketch of the site showing where the boat is in relation to the reef, where some of the more interesting fish and invertebrates we are likely to see as well as any other pertinent information. We also go over our "Fish Wish List" to update everyone on what we still need to collect.

Captain Lou giving a "chalk talk" before our dive

As the list is dwindling, a more concentrated effort is needed when diving on the reef. Instead of seeing a million things that you can collect, you have to think about each fish and divers are starting to make detailed plans to collect very specific fish. Mariah and I set out to take a leisurely dive in search of perhaps some juvenile stoplight parrotfish or surgeonfish. As we were surveying the site, I saw what looked like a little black and white ribbon gracefully swirling around the opening of a small cave. It was a juvenile spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)! We hovered above that cave for almost a half an hour waiting for just the right moment to delicately scoop him up – and it payed off! [More on spotted drums here!]

Juvenile Spotted Drum

I felt almost like a proud parent as we brought it on board and people ooh-ed and ahh-ed over him. I'm sure there was no more fuss over that little drum than any other fish, but at the time I felt like Mariah and I had won a blue ribbon!

You may be surprised to know that even here in the Caribbean we get cold after diving. When you get back on the boat sopping wet and the wind is whipping over the deck you can catch quite a chill! Most people bundle up in their towel, but Sam has an extra trick – a wool hat!

Sam keeping warm - in style!

That’s all for tonight! We will be up and diving early tomorrow for the grunt roundup – yee-haw!

-- Emily

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