Bahamas Collecting Expedition: What a difference a day makes

Posts from the Sea TURTLE teen diving program will continue, but at the same time New England Aquarium staff and volunteers are on their regular spring expedition to the Bahamas. This is that team's fifth post, written by Andrea.

As I went to bed after our first night at sea I was a little worried about the conditions of the seas. If the whole week is going to be as rocky as yesterday; it is going to be a long week. But looking on the bright side we did have two beautiful dives and I went to bed dreaming of catching more fish. 

I woke up prepared for another day of rocky conditions but was surprised to find the seas smooth as glass! It was a perfect day to get a lot of dives in and catch some fish. We did five dives; two at North Turtle Rocks, one at Piquet Rocks and two on the wreck of the Sapona (the last dive was a night dive). [Previous dives to the Sapona have been reported on this blog in this 2008 post, this 2009 post, this 2010 night dive post and this 2010 post.]

The shipwreck Sapona

During our dives at North Turtle Rocks, Barbara and I were focusing on trying to get blue chromis. Blue chromis are small bright blue fish that swim in groups along the reef and the Aquarium wants to bring back 50 of them! At first they were pretty tricky to get as they would just hover and not move as we approached with our nets but as we were just about to close in they would dart away in every direction finding the smallest gaps in between your nets. It was a little frustrating to say the least. Finally we managed to catch one and as I was swimming around I noticed another blue chromis swimming near the one in my bag. I looked over at Barbara and she saw this too and we both instantly knew what we needed to do. I set my catch bag down on a nice sandy spot and we would back up and watch as more chromis would come and hang out with the one we caught. Then we would slowly move in and catch them. This process worked really well and we were able to catch about 10 chromis before the dive was done.

Collecting (Photo credit: Chad Toney)

Here are some of the blue chromis we collected

Once we finish the dive we will hook our catch bags to a big barrel that is suspended underwater. Then we slowly bring the barrel up five feet every 20 minutes. This allows the fish to slowly get used to the change in pressure as they rise to surface. As the barrel reaches the surface everyone huddles around anxiously waiting to see what we all caught and to help put the fish in the tanks. Even though this process happens after every dive, it still feels like Christmas morning every time the barrel reaches the surface.

Barrell (Photo credit: Chad Toney)

 Putting fish away (Photo credit: Chad Toney)

Well off to prepare for another day of diving.


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