Monday, February 19, 2018

Diving the Salt Pier

The diving in Bonaire is spectacular. The water clarity is great, the coral, for the most part, is doing well, and although there is a lack of larger fish and top level predators (sharks, large groupers, large barracuda) there is no shortage of things to see and critters to observe.  That being said, many of the dive sites have a great deal of similarity to each other. There are a few dive sites that truly stand out as being different, the Salt Pier is one of them.

This is the pier that ships come to pick up the salt, and when the ships are tied up here, diving is not allowed.

What makes this so special? If you look at the pilings you can see the angles at which they are set. 

This gives the wonderful illusion of swimming through a forest.

The fish are abundant here, using the pilings as shade and protection. As divers we get to see the fish at different angles than we normally do. Here I am looking up at some three foot long barracuda. 

And this odd picture is looking up at the belly of a pufferfish! I have never seen a pufferfish from this angle before!

There are large schools of fish and I could swim right in the middle of them. These are Smallmouth Grunts.

The piers themselves do not have a lot of growth on them, but here is a Sergeant Major guarding his purple eggs. Sergeant Majors are usually yellow and black, but the males turn blue when they are on egg duty, fiercely fighting off any animals (including divers) that get too close.

The largest fish under the piers are the silvery Tarpon. These are about 3 1/2 feet long.

The dive is a relatively shallow dive, 30 - 40 feet. This gives us the opportunity to get closer to the fish, and the light is better to see them. This is a Scrawled Cowfish. The blueish color indicates that mating is imminent or just happened, their normal color is more of a greenish yellow hue.

French Angelfish are very majestic looking. When they are small they are striped with black and yellow and often set up cleaning stations for other fish to come to.

This is probably a Blue Parrotfish. There are over 70 types of Parrotfish and they change dramatically in color, shape and markings as they mature. Some are easily identified,  others, not so much.

It is rare to get a good close-up picture with more than one species of fish. Here there are three! The bottom black and white is a Spotted Drum. They are rarely out in the open during the day, they usually are swimming in circles under a ledge and only come out at night. The red fish is a Black bar Soldierfish. Also usually in dark recesses. The third fish in the group is a Smooth Trunkfish.

Some creatures at the Salt Pier can be identified by their position on the ladder. Here is one that is clearly on the bottom rung.

Leaving the pier and heading back to the boat we found some soft coral. We use the coral to tell us the direction of the currents. If at all possible we begin  our dives heading into the current so we can have an easier return to the boat.

And finally, here is an interesting perspective problem. .. how big is this chain?


It is a big honkin' chain. I am right next to it. It is used to hold the moorings for the salt boats. 

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