fish

Captains Log, barracuda, fish, things to do

MAN MEETS BARRACUDA

Hope our guests likes this picture of him taking a picture of a Barracuda. Hope he got a great shot of the Barracuda.

Our tours and excursions have become quite popular, not only because our crew genuinely love what they do, but because we take photos for our guests and share them for free.

It is photos like the one below that we hope become treasured by our guests. Many have voiced that they love not having to cart their cameras and can relax knowing Captain Mario is doing the job. They are welcome to bring their own equipment - there is no prohibition of them taking their own photos.

Captain Mario tries to take as many shots as he can, depending on conditions. If the prevailing weather is serving up tropical conditions, he is more concerned about the safety of his guests, but quieter conditions allow him the freedom to follow our guests around and get some memorable photos. The photos also bring each day's tour alive for the office staff, and keep them in touch with what is happening out there.

Hope we can host you soon and share some equally great shots with you!

  Man meets Barracuda ... Grand Cayman snorkel tour

Man meets Barracuda ... Grand Cayman snorkel tour

Captains Log, fish

ONE GOOD REASON NOT TOUCH

The golden rule for snorkelling is DON'T TOUCH. Besides the fact that your touch can do enormous damage to precious coral that has taken years to grow, you can also end up feeling very sorry for yourself.

  Don't touch - can you see why? Snorkelling in Grand Cayman

Don't touch - can you see why? Snorkelling in Grand Cayman

Sharp eyed Captain Mario spotted this little guy during one of our snorkel tours - the camouflage would make a navy seal green with envy. Below we get closer ....

  A little bit closer ...

A little bit closer ...

By now you should be picking up the mouth, the nostrils and the eyes ... you can just see the tail in the background ...

  From the top ... the Spotted Scorpionfish ... sometimes called Rock fish by the locals

From the top ... the Spotted Scorpionfish ... sometimes called Rock fish by the locals

And there you have the Spotted Scorpionfish. Some locals call is the Rock Fish. You can call him what you want but you don't want to touch him.

These quiet characters just keep to themselves on the sea floor, hoping for some little creature to pass by and become the next meal. As you can see above, they are masters of camoflage, and are covered in spines which, if you touch him or stand on him, will quickly inform you that the attention is unwanted .... and it is a long and painful memory. You could pretty much say that his sting is worse than his looks.

So, keep the hands to yourselves and have a happy snorkel!

fish, things to do, spotted trunk fish

LEAD THE WAY!

  This Spotted Trunk Fish leads the way ...

This Spotted Trunk Fish leads the way ...

Dazzling water clarity - this photo was taken on our tour which took place August 7 - a day which makes you fall in love with the Caribbean all over again (and again and again!).

At Sandbar where the world famous Stingray City is, - you will often see the Needle Nose Fish and these little guys darting around, trying to snap up any food the stingrays might have missed. Usually very timid, it is not often that one can get close to them, so it was a delight to get this photo, while chasing him across the sands.

They are rather sweet looking and always look like they are puckering up for a kiss - must be spending too much time around the rays!

fish, snorkel

SNORKEL TREASURE!

  Families that snorkel together, keep memories forever!

Families that snorkel together, keep memories forever!

If you have read our past posts, you will be well aware of the awful conditions that we have experienced for way too long, resulting in countless tours being cancelled and so, so many disappointed guests.

We are seeing some relief from this unusual weather - last week we managed to get out for 2 days, and this week we have also managed a couple of days. This has been very tough on the local operators during what is considered to be the highest season of the year.

What is amazing, are the days of total calm between all the storms which truly brings to life the saying "the calm before the storm", although we are changing that to "the calm between the storms" for this year!

Of course, being able to go ahead with excursions with guests concerned that they might miss this experience with the stingrays, and ants-in-the-pants crew members, engenders a lot of excitement which is almost palpable.

And so it was a great big cherry on the top when we spotted these beautiful morays at the snorkeling site we chose for the day. We know Elvis the Green Moray very well, and occasionally spot another Green Moray along Cayman's North Sound reef, but to find these two morays at the Coral Gardens AND right next to each was just amazing! The Caribbean water was amazing clear and Captain Mario managed to get this stunning shot!

  A Viper Moray and a Goldentail Moray alongside each other at the Coral Gardens

A Viper Moray and a Goldentail Moray alongside each other at the Coral Gardens

What beauts!

The Viper Moray is the dark one, closer to you the viewer. They usually reach a maximum of 3 feet in lengths, are dark over their entire bodies, and have very arched jaws which only touch at the tip of the mouth, thus constantly displaying their impressive teeth. They are generally nocturnal fish and feed on fish or octopus. The above photo shows a well known characteristic of them - their sit and wait approach to feeding - sticking their heads out of the coral and waiting until dinner swims past and wham! dinner is done.

The prettier one behind the Viper Moray is called a Goldentail Moray - far lighter background colouring with dots that spread over the body. The dots start small in size on the snout and progressively grow bigger towards the tail. They are small and are not expected to reach a length greater than 2 feet. They have tiny teeth which are used during night forays to catch themselves acarnivorous meal - usually solitary creatures, so the above picture shows an unusual behaviour.

We had some divers out on the boat with us for this tour, and they were so incredibly in awe at finding these moray during a snorkel, as was Captain Moray who was over the moon at spotting them.

We hope they stay for a long time and that we can visit them frequently and show them to our guests who, we are sure, will equally enjoy seeing these marvellous fish!

fish, Snorkel

Sea Biscuits and doves of peace

It does not happen often, so we were excited to find a live Sand Dollar making it's slow but sure way across the sands of the North Sound during a recent snorkelling stop. Much like starfish, it is enthralling to witness such little creatures attract the awe of children and adults alike. 

Grand_Cayman_Excursions_170915.png

These little fellas are most widely known as Sand Dollars but enjoy different names in various regions. "Sea Biscuit" is the Caribbean name, whilst South Africans call them Pansy Shells. Although thought of as a shell, this treasure usually found on the beach is the skeleton of a type of urchin. Alive, they are considered to have "endoskeletons" ("inner skeletons"), as their bodies (known as the Tests) are covered with fine silky spines and are all encompassed in a "skin".

Sand dollars feed on plankton which is pushed to it's mouth on it's underside, using the spines and cilia like a conveyor belt. These same spines can be used to bury themselves into soft sand, their preferred habitat.

Some love to believe that these sun-bleached Sand Dollars are coins lost by mermaids, whilst others are warmed by stories of the Christian symbolism this little creature carries, not least the doves of peace

Us? We just think we are so very privileged to share the creatures and the beauty of this tropical island and never tire of it, nor the effect it has on it's visitors.

Captains Log, Excursions, private tours, fish

20 February and the week gone by ..... up and down like a toilet seat!

The crew spirit has gone through extremes this week .... one day absolutely elated at the conditions and dizzy with excitement at sharing it with our guests, the next day grey, grey moods to match the skies! We have had awesome sun-filled days accompanied by breezes as slow as 2 knots, only to be bullied into cancelling tours the next day by tropical squalls and howlers of up to 25 knots! Bleh!!

Thankfully, we did manage to keep our dates with a private charter on the 15th, as well as standard tours on the 17th and 18th. The cruise ships were happy to come in and off load their visitors at the beginning of the week, but kept their anchors tucked away and avoided our little island like the plague on the 19th and the 20th. Who knows what tomorrow will hold?

But as we said above, the good days were gooooooood and the bad days were very, very bad. Here, we share some of the good stuff!

The 15th saw us hosting a family for a private excursion. They had chosen to Starfish Point, Rum Point, Stingray City and Booby Cay as the attractions they wanted to visit. It was a beautiful day for these choices, with brilliant colours and skies dotted with clouds. The water was slightly choppy but beautifully clear. The tour was a full 5 hours (it never seems long enough!) and the crew truly enjoyed hosting this fun group very much.

  The sandbar in Grand Cayman

The sandbar in Grand Cayman

Monday saw the boat receiving some scheduled maintenance - it was a nice day and if we could have postponed this to another day we would have. However, Tuesday and Wednesday still saw incredibly beautiful days and it was a pleasure to show Grand Cayman off to her visitors. Brilliant sunsets have been the cherry on the top for our excursions this week, and the blues, purples and golds of these moments left everyone pretty much in awe of Mother Nature, once again.

  Sunset from  Starfish Point  in Grand Cayman

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Wednesday was especially interesting and pretty. The morning excursions faced showers at Starfish Point and half way through the stop at Stingray City, but otherwise enjoyed sun. However, while the island was completely flooded with buckets of rain, it was a tough task to convince island visitors that the North Sound was not experiencing the same conditions and that the afternoon trip was going to be stunning. Some trusted us and came, some did not ...... and what a shame they didn't!

  The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The Reef in Grand Cayman - what conditions!

The above photo of the Reef shows you what we saw ...... mirror-like surfaces and brilliant displays of colours by the coral formations. The fish were also incredibly social and we were visited by young stingrays, Bermuda Chubs, Trumpet Fish, Needlefish, Parrot Fish, Butterfly Fish and so many more! Captain Mario had gone in search of the Moray Eel, and had found her tucked away under a piece of boat wreck - usually a sign that she wants to be left alone which he respected. However, just a few minutes later, she was playing hide and seek - popping out and going back in, and then made her way over to her "social den" where she stays when feeling sociable. Much to the delight of everyone, hide and seek was resumed and she entertained all those watching by peek-a-booing and then swimming out and back in to her hide-hole a number of times. What an experience!

  The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

The moray eel plays hide and seek at the reef in Grand Cayman - popping out, going back in ......

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman

During our tour, we had bypassed Stingray City Sandbar in order to avoid the crowd - a lot of boats were there! Eventually, we knew we had to move in .... and luckily the majority of the others moved out .... perfect timing by Captain Mario again! The water at the sandbar was only 2 feet deep and crystal clear. Stingray whisperer 1st Mate Dwayne set off to go and find one of his "girls", and came back to the group whispering sweet nothings to Snowflake who wilted in everybody's arms - she was so relaxed and laid back and just took in all the love whilst handing out kisses to whoever wanted them! 

  Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Dwayne flirts and plays with one his "girl" - stingray Snowflake - at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

As we said at the beginning, the good was gooooooood and the bad was very bad. Let's hope we get some more of the good stuff in the next coming week ..........


Excursions, fish, sunset, snorkel

AWESOME DAY IN GRAND CAYMAN

The 24th January served us up an incredible day. 

Living in the Caribbean is lucky for so many reasons, but for us, the best reasons would be the climate and the beauty that we see on a daily basis. Even just taking the school route offers up a glimpse of the beautiful tropical blues along Seven Mile Beach - one almost wishes to be stuck in a traffic jam!

But there come days when Grand Cayman just goes a step further and produces a day which is stunning beyond words, and we all get excited about it, and get especially worked up about sharing such a day with our tour guests. 

It is on these days that Captain Mario's wife and child hound him half to death to be taken out into the North Sound. They do not often get this opportunity, but on days with these conditions - well, no is not accepted for an answer. Mandy adores the stingrays and cannot collect enough photos of them, while Gina adores Starfish Point and no family tour can be completed without stopping at this island attraction.

Captain Mario stopped off at a beautiful spot for the snorkelling - a little out of the usual site but along the barrier reef. The propellors had hardly stopped turning before Mandy was in the water, where she was met by a gigantic Mutton Snapper who surprisingly accompanied her for most of her visit - how wonderful! His size is not easy to see from the photo below, but he must have been at least 3 feet long - usually they are rather timid as the locals fish for them, but this guy was quite happy to tag along.

  The massive Mutton Snapper that joined us for the snorkel along the Barrier Reef

The massive Mutton Snapper that joined us for the snorkel along the Barrier Reef

 What a beauty of a Queen Angel Fish found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

What a beauty of a Queen Angel Fish found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

  A school of Blue Tangs float on by during our snorkel visit

A school of Blue Tangs float on by during our snorkel visit

  Conch Shell in Grand Cayman

Conch Shell in Grand Cayman

The reef was splendid - Mandy felt that there was a certain magic in the water and was amazed to see so many fish and corals - an enormous Queen Angel Fish and a school of one of her favourite fish, the Blue Tang, were some of her pleasures. Add to that the fact that she found four live conch and her day was already made! We used to fish for conch for our standard excursions, but changed our policy this year - we feel that they are already over-harvested and hardly see any these days. You can be sure no-one will be told of these conch's whereabouts!

After the snorkelling, and during our boat ride to Stingray City Sandbar, we were treated to a beautiful rainbow hitting land on the North Side. Wow, we did not think it could get too much better, but we were wrong. 

 Things to do in Grand Cayman

Once again, Mandy was testing Captain Mario's patience with wanting to spring into the ocean before the propellors had stopped twirling ...... can you blame her when you see the conditions were like the photo below?

  Incredible conditions at Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Incredible conditions at Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The above image was taken from on-board "Big John" - the waters were so clear you could see right to the sand bar bed with the ripples of sand caused by the flow of the ocean. The first sight was of a ginormous stingray burying herself into the sand - we were delighted to see that she was very, very swollen with pregnancy and can't wait to have her little ones darting around. She eventually stopped "digging" and lumbered over for a kiss and some lovin' .... got a picture of her in Captain Mario's arms, just resting there for a bit.... we made sure to give her plenty of stingray "popcorn" (squid) to keep her nicely fed for her babies!

  One very pregnant stingray burying herself at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

One very pregnant stingray burying herself at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

 Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The "girls" felt the magic of the day and cavorted with us and the other sandbar visitors with great abandon and a lot of kisses and hugs and snuggles were shared - oh what a time was had! Mandy and Gina were in 7th heaven! It was tough to leave this spot, but Gina was in nagging mode by now, and Starfish Point was obviously next on the itinerary.

On the way over to this heavenly beach on Grand Cayman, we were given a hint of what to expect, with the skies and clouds forming incredible shades of blue and greys. Gina was extremely verbal in her delightful find of 4 starfish with excited yelps and squeals heard by all. But those quietened down when the sunset put on an astounding show. When even a four year old is heard to say "lets sit quietly and watch the sunset" you know it has got to be a good one! Below is the proof .... what a magical day to enjoy and witness. On days such as these, one can only be hugely grateful to be living surrounded by peace, surrounded by beauty and surrounded by hope - hugely lacking in so many parts of the world. Thank you.

  Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Sunset from Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Snorkel, fish

22 January 2015 - Happy Caribbean vacation days!

Tour Time : 10:00am

Guests from : Navigator of the Seas Cruise, The Grand Caymanian Resort, The NCL Epic Cruise and Sunshine Suites Hotel

Star Stingray : Newcomer to be named

No Shows : 0 YIPPEE!

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman
  Spotfin Butterflyfish

Spotfin Butterflyfish

  Juvenile Blue Tang

Juvenile Blue Tang

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman

 

A superb cross-section of guests - from island residents, to cruise passengers to overnight guests at some of the gorgeous hotels that Grand Cayman can boast about!

Sea conditions were a little choppy today, but the sun was out and the underwater colours were spectacular! Our breath is still taken away even if we see this every day - there are sites and colours and moments still astound, and to share them with our visitors is an absolute pleasure and privilege!

We hope that they enjoy the photos that we provide to them for free, and hope that they bring great vacation memories back to them for a long time to come. It gives us great enjoyment - sharing the beauty of Grand Cayman.

As the saying goes : TAKE ONLY PHOTOS, AND LEAVE ONLY BUBBLES!