20: Bahamas 2013 | Last Dives

2013 Bahamas Expedition | Round Three 
About a year and a half ago, this trip's blogger became an intern diver in the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium. Luigi loved being at the Aquarium so much that he became a volunteer diver after his internship was over. He also joins Aquarium divers to help collect fish, under special permits, so that visitors in Boston can appreciate the splendor of a healthy Caribbean reef. 

Luigi joined the dive team on a recent trip to the Bahamas to collect animals for the new exhibit.

As today will be our last day of diving, this will be my last blog for this trip. We will be waking up around 4:00 tomorrow morning to package all of our critters (over 400 of them just on this trip) and get them ready to be shipped up to Boston!

The first dive that we did today was at Dollar Harbor. This is the same site that we did our drift dive on last night, but it was so productive that we decided to dive it again this morning. On our first drift dive of the day we collected all different kinds of beautiful tropical fish to bring back to our Giant Ocean Tank for its grand re-opening on July 1. A  couple of the fish that were collected, by a few other divers and myself, included queen triggerfish, French and gray angelfish, and reef and spotfin butterflyfish.

On this same dive we also saw a lot of other interesting things. We saw some more beautiful sea stars...

Two really cool flying gurnards...

A small juvenile yellow stingray buried under the sand...

Can you see the stingray in the center of the picture? His tail is poking out to the left.
A juvenile Spanish hogfish hanging out near a sea anemone...

and we even saw a box of mac and cheese :(

Even in the ocean, you can't escape trash. Check out these posts about the Pacific Garbage Patch and Indonesia.

The second dive of the day was at Bimini Road. At this site we saw a large ocean triggerfish, a large great barracuda and an awesome little sea slug (aka nudibranch)

I am excited to say that the last dive of our trip was probably one of the best. On this dive we collected a few juvenile seargent majors, and we saw all kinds of really amazing things. First, the best part of the dive for me was seeing a large school of bioluminescent squid! Usually these guys are nocturnal, so we really lucked out seeing them during the day.

We also saw some really large schools of fish

We saw a few huge midnight parrotfish and a beautiful rainbow parrotfish. [Aquarium researcher Randi Rotjan, PhD, spotted these fish in Belize, too!]

Some dusky squirrelfish hiding in elkhorn coral

Some kind of brittle star (he moved a little too quickly to get a positive ID or a picture), and even a highly camouflaged and venomous spotted scorpionfish!

It has been a lot of fun blogging here from Bimini, Bahamas, but I have to go get a few hours of sleep before Pack Day, where we will be packing up all of our new friends for their shipment to Boston!  Please come and see all of our new critters now that the Giant Ocean Tank is once again teeming with animals. More and more are being added every day! The New Aquarium Experience starts July 1.

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