After visiting the Iguana Island, our boat set out for a shallow coral bed for some snorkeling. Despite the shallowness of the water (I would guess it wasn't deeper than twenty feet anywhere nearby, although depths are notoriously difficult to judge in clear water), we were still a fair ways away from the coast of Cayo Largo. It was amazing the difference this made; whereas the water directly off the coast, as described in Part II and Part III, was characterized by fine white sand and fish almost the same colour, here the sea was full of fauna in a myriad of colours.
The coral was predominantly yellow-green to yellow-brown, but there were occasional outcroppings of beautiful reds and purples.
|A piece of purple coral (click to enlarge)|
Despite photographic difficulties, though, the material we had to work with helped make up for it. There were (I think) four types of fish who swarmed around the boat to feed off the hull and any scraps which fell in the water (Manuel was making lunch and discarded unwanted bits off the side. I don't know how healthy that is for the wildlife, but he and the captain seemed to think it was perfectly normal). Two of the fish were black with blue highlights, and I am only identifying them as separate based on their distinct fin structures. The other two fish were much lighter in colour. One species had vertical black stripes and the other a horizontal yellow stripe down its side. All four seemed perfectly happy to intermix, and you can see them in the two photos I took. You can also see one of the dark fish species cleaning off the underside of the boat in a video I took, and another video of Sarah swimming amongst the fish schools (sorry for the shakiness of the camera). If anyone can identify the species of the fish, please let me know (either in the comments or send me an email).
UPDATE: Thanks to studentjohn's comment, I now have an idea as to the identities of three of the four fish. The big blue and black fellow in the first image appears to be some sort of triggerfish , while the vertically striped fish are sergeant majors (I actually feel kind of silly about not recognizing that), and the fish with a horizontal yellow stripe are yellowtail snappers.
|Swarm of schooling fish (click to enlarge)|
|Another shot of the fish swarm (click to enlarge)|
|A really happy looking fish (click to enlarge)|
|A small multi-coloured fish (click to enlarge)|
|A view on the beach of the islands (click to enlarge)|
|Starfish in the shallows (click to enlarge)|
|The full sting ray swimming away. Unfortunately the water was a little cloudy, most likely due to us churning up sand as we chased the rays (click to enlarge)|
|This was the best picture we managed to take of the ray's face (click to enlarge)|
After we had our fill of sloshing about in the shallows, we got back on the boat and were taken back to the marina on Cayo Largo. We were reunited with our shoes, and a bus took us back to our resort. The next part deals with the many birds we spotted.