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Thread: No More Shorty Tan ...... Days 11 & 12

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    108

    Default No More Shorty Tan ...... Days 11 & 12

    Weve done some stupendous dives on Bonaire. Over the years, probably 850 or so. All of them sensory overload and memorable in their own way.

    But the dive we did at Pink Beach the other day stands out as one of the best. Wed been told by multiple people that a large bait ball had been residing between Pink Beach and Toris Reef for at least a month.

    Everyone was right. We found the bait ball. But before we did, we found a few other things as well.

    Leslie saw what she claims is a Hatchet fish, which I had never heard of. She took a picture of it to do some research. We also saw a Trigger fish swim by. Not a rarity on Bonaire, but not overly common either.

    We followed a large lobster as it walked across the coral, headed for deeper water. It stopped a few times and flicked its tentacles at us as a warning (Caribbean lobsters dont have claws).

    In the shallows coming back, I saw a Spotted Eagle Ray swimming straight toward me, skimming just above the soft corals. I stopped and hovered as it continued to approach, expecting it to veer away any moment.

    But it didnt. It swam up face-to-face with me and hovered. We locked eyes and I could swear it winked at me. I winked back, and then it flipped a wing and swam towards Double L, allowing her to take some gorgeous pictures, almost as if it were posing.
    Shortly after watching the Eagle Ray swim off, we found the infamous bait ball. Ive seen bait balls in the past, but this was the most mesmerizing one Id ever encountered.

    For one thing, it was in shallow water. The ones Ive seen before were always in deep water, limiting the amount of time to watch them. This one was in 15-20 feet of water, allowing for almost infinite viewing time. There were literally thousands of Big-Eyed Scad making up the ball and they were all the same size, moving in unison as if communicating telepathically.

    I entered the ball and was immediately surrounded by fish, momentarily losing all sense of direction, a mild case of vertigo. The water darkened as the mass of fish blocked the sun, thousands of eyes seeming to watch me, starring me down. I kicked a fin and moved a little, and the mass of fish moved with me, always leaving the same amount of buffer space between me and them. They didnt perceive me as a threat, but they werent accepting me as one of them either, the countless pairs of eyes endlessly watching, sizing me up.

    Several Bar Jacks and Horse-Eyed Jacks were keeping station on the outside of the ball. Interestingly, the bait fish the Big-Eyed Scad were larger than others Id seen in the past and appeared too large for the Jacks to consume. Even so, the Jacks protected the herd ferociously, even making a few threatening, although benign, passes at Les and I. We just laughed them away.

    We were able to experience the bait ball long enough for Leslie to snap about 200 pictures. When theyve made it through Less stringent quality control process, Ill post a few.

    Some of you old-timers to Bonairetalk and these trip report blogs are familiar with Double Ls shorty tan. Basically, Les dives with a shorty wetsuit, and her legs become tanned between the lower portion of her suit and the upper portion of her wetsuit booties. The tan becomes noticeable when shes wearing regular shorts and sandals. Ruth, of Bonaire KFC fame, snapped a picture of Less tan many years ago outside the Mona Lisa restaurant and it floated around FaceBook for a spell.

    Sad to say, Les has incorporated a lycra bottom to her dive ensemble. At least two times this trip shes been stung by something in the water, some sea wasp or other invisible critter. It happened to me a few years ago and it hurts. And it persists for several days. Once was all I needed to opt for a full wetsuit to protect as much exposed skin as possible.

    Les has been committed to that shorty for years, but she finally got the message.

    So, if youre like Jim McPeak and have a picture of Double Ls shorty tan, youd better hold on to it. Probably wont be worth any value, but its definitely a sign of the past. Nothing like the extinction of the dinosaurs, but its definitely the passing of a bygone era.

    Only two dive days left, boys and girls. Hard to believe another trip is about to be history. After four more sorties underwater, two sunsets, a few beers, some rum punch, a nap in the hammock, and two additional trip report entries, well force ourselves -- kicking and screaming -- aboard a Delta 757 and watch paradise disappear in the rear-view mirror.

    Were already planning our next trip.

    Dive on Friends,

    Dave & Leslie.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1,673

    Arrow ahhh yes, just warming up nicely on the narrative, you need to go for Threaker

    I've seen a few Bait Balls on the HV Reefcam, I presume it must be quite a Sensory overdrive thing


    ohh yeah think I remember Ruth tagging me in that "Shorty Tan" Pic..... off a searchin'

  3. #3
    Cornhusker is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    434

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    We enjoyed 2-months this year and the small bait ball just hung out between Pink Beach and Salt Pier and it was fun to take our guests down to the area, look out and spot the bait ball and take them out into it and watch them smile! Only concern I have is the vast amount of what I call yellow scum on the bottom of the entire area and believe it is growing from waste left by the bait ball. The area just south of Salt Pier was really vast and hope it cleans up instead of spreading to other areas.

    We did do a dive early in the trip at Invisible and on return leg at 50' first thought it was a cloud overhead ad got dark...and after short time looked up and a massive bait ball from just above me all the way up to the dropoff so took others up slowly and let them enter it and they would just be gone! We had 4 of us in the bait ball same time and just amazing as sometimes you would see someone as it would open up and then close and get back together. Again biggest one yet in 20-years but the smaller one was a great time just for kicks!

    Agree that Pink Beach really was a great dive this year and did it multiple times-----and only 9-months until we return but who is counting! Cornhusker

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Oklahoma
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    Even though I'm not there with yous twos, I enjoy your trips to Bonaire. Glad you're planning your next trip.
    The baitball was in a net at Toris Reef last Sept, guess they don't realize the nets gone?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    US
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    Since the bait call is not too deep, would this be something I'd be able to see if I snorkeled at pink beach? Sounded awesome.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    1

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    Dave,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post the great stories. I have been lurking for a while and decided to register and contribute largely because of how much I have enjoyed reading stories like yours. Headed to the island in about 10 days, so unfortunately I will miss you and Leslie but the trip report was much appreciated.

    Randy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    68

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    Quote Originally Posted by dulcimer View Post
    Since the bait call is not too deep, would this be something I'd be able to see if I snorkeled at pink beach? Sounded awesome.
    You should be able to see it from the surface if it is still there.

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