On Our Way to the Ocean

Murray and I are sitting in the Seattle Airport waiting for our flight to the Big Island, Kona, Hawai’i. I feel so relieved now. This trip was causing me more anxiety than our trip to Bonaire. Same testing and paperwork involved, but this time it felt more intense. So, why am I relieved? This is why…….

My very own Hawai’i pre-clearance wristband!

Hawai’i requires visitors to log into a website called Safe Travels Hawai’i to fill in information about our trip, vaccinations, negative COVID test and fill out a health questionnaire. I filled out everything with ease until I got to the health questionnaire, where there seemed to be only four questions and the “Next” button didn’t do anything and so I “Completed” the questionnaire and created the QR Code. I might add that at no time did the website ever say, “You have not answered the other 64 questions of the health questionnaire.” Anyway, I slept very poorly over all this the night before our flights and have worried the whole time that I messed up. Sounds like Debbie, doesn’t it!

Once in the Seattle Airport, I noticed an area where we can pre clear the Hawai’i restrictions to quarantine (and I had read about this pre clearing on some website) and there was no line up, so we scooted over there and within about four and a half minutes we had been pre cleared and given our wristbands. I didn’t mess up at all! Such a relief to have that colourful band around my arm!

We still have a few hours to wait for our flight to Kona. Tonight we sleep by the ocean!

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Our Bonaire Dive Trip

Murray and I came to Bonaire hoping to make up for lost dives in the 19 months of pandemic isolation. We have dived and dived while here and as much as I think I am over dived right now, I am thinking about where we should go for our next trip. Yeah, I’m hooked. Here are some crazy stats to sum up Bonaire.

Rock Beauty
Rock Beauty

Number of dives – 2 boat dives, 67 shore dives to total 69 dives each

Average length of dive – approx 71 minutes

Shortest dive – 16 minutes, aborted dive due to water in camera housing

Longest dive – 85 minutes, last dive-didn’t want to get out

Hours spent under water – approx 3.5 hours per day, approx 81 hours over the 4 weeks

Number of wipeouts in the surf or on the beach with dive gear on – Debbie 6, Murray 5

Number of robots encountered under water – 1 (Hayward) in the swimming pool

Number of dive days and number of rest days – 24 dive days and 3 rest days

Number of photos taken by Debbie – approx 1,270

Number of videos taken by Murray – approx 370

Best place to stay – Coral Paradise Resort

Best truck rental and dive shop combination – AB Car Rental and AB Dive

Best sushi restaurant – Panino

Best ice cream – GIO’s

Most dives at one dive site – Salt Pier 3, Something Special 3 and Oil Slick Leap 3

First time diving at a dive site – Tolo, Jeff Davis, My Place, Vista Blue, Soft Coral Garden, Fish Hut and Yellow Submarine

Some of those statistics are mind boggling. We spent the equivalent of two 40 hour work weeks under water! We are turning into fish! This is our fourth trip to Bonaire and we still managed to dive sites we have not dived before. The dive sites we did multiple times have something drawing us back each time.

Sharptail eel
Sharptail eel

If you are thinking of going to Bonaire, stay at the Coral Paradise Resort. Carolyn and Vincent (Canadians) are great hosts and run a small eight unit resort. They are tied in with AB Dive and AB Car Rental so a truck rental is easy and tanks are delivered right to the resort. Each unit has a kitchen so breakfast and lunches can be made, which we did most days. Some days we cooked in, but most days we ate out. It can’t get any better than that! Check them out!

So, this was our dive trip to Bonaire in a snap shot.

Frogfish
Frogfish
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Creature of the Day – Sea Anemones

Everyone knows about anemones from the movie Finding Nemo. They are the habitat for Clownfish in the Pacific, but in the Caribbean, they are habitat for Pederson Cleaner Shrimp, Yellowline Arrow Crabs, Squat Anemone Shrimp and Spotted Cleaner Shrimp.

Giant Anemone
Giant Anemones

There are a number of different anemones in the waters and it is always a surprise to peer inside one to see who is hanging about. The most common are the Giant Anemone and the Corkscrew Anemone.

Giant Anemone
Giant Anemone

The long tentacles have a mix of toxins on them that aid the anemone to feed. This toxin will sting a human, sometimes not so bad, but sometimes lethally. So it is best to not touch anemones, or anything, underwater.

 Corkscrew Anemone
Corkscrew Anemone
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Fish of the Day – Lionfish

The myth behind the Lionfish in the Caribbean is that they were brought to this side of the world in the bilge of a freighter and got released into the water. They have no natural predators in the Caribbean, so they are thriving. They are voracious hunters and eat many different types of fish. Many Caribbean islands mandate the hunting and killing of the Lionfish to get rid of them. Restaurants even offer Lionfish on their menus. They are pretty but, unfortunately, have a bad name in the Caribbean.

The spines on a Lionfish are venomous, so a diver doesn’t want to get too close.

Lionfish
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Art Under the Waves

Along with fishes and creatures, I like to take pictures of what could be called art. If I see cool lighting of a coral, or a mixture of colours, I will snap a photo. Here are some of my creations from this trip.

And one more……

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Fish of the Day – Trumpetfish

Trumpetfish are one of my favourite fishes. They are long, sometimes almost a metre, and have a snout that almost looks like a horse. They belong to the same order as seahorses and coronetfish. They come in an assortment of colours. My favourite is the one with the blue snout, pale body and blue tail.

Trumpetfish

They often hover in the water vertically and can move into a gorgonian sponge vertically, deftly avoiding the branches.

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Creature of the Day – Crab

When we dive, we are always on the look out for crabs. Tiny ones, large ones, hairy ones and hiding ones.

 Batwing Coral Crab
Batwing Coral Crab

This Batwing Coral Crab was sitting out in the open on a piece of coral when we swam by. He wasn’t disturbed by my camera light or photo taking. Such a cool guy!

Channel Clinging Crab
Channel Clinging Crab

The Channel Clinging Crab was deep in a hole when we saw him. This large crab likes to reside in recesses. Look at his large claw! He’s not as willing to sit for a photo.

Crab

We see many small crabs hiding in coral heads, their legs poking out. Hermit crabs, in their chosen house shells, can be seen inside sponges. Sometimes they are on the move and sometimes they are just hanging around.

It’s fun to search for crabs as we never know what we will find.

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Creature of the Day – Peppermint Shrimp

Peppermint Shrimp are usually found inside tube sponges. I swim over a tube and peer in and there is this little fellow staring back at me, swaying from side to side. They are named for their bright red stripes. Cute!

Peppermint Shrimp
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Creature of the Day – Turtles!

Today we do our only boat dives while on Bonaire. We have spots booked with East Coast Divers, the only dive operator that dives the “wild side” (or east side) of the island. The reasons to dive the wild side are turtles and rays.

Our first dive is Fungi Reef, or the turtle highway. Lac Bay is a secluded bay where there is a ton of sea grass. The Green Turtles go into the bay at night and early morning to feed and then swim outside the bay, into the open water to sleep. They use Fungi Reef as the highway to get to the area where they like to sleep. As we make our way along the reef, we look for turtles, but we also look out into the blue for other sightings. We see a Spotted Eagle Ray glide past us way down deep. We see another large stingray on top of the reef.

We come across a sleeping turtle who has his head tucked deep into a hole. This guy is huge! Once back on the boat, we discover he is a Loggerhead Turtle. The turtle gets its name from the large head it has to support powerful jaws. They use these jaws to crush the shells of sea urchins and clams. They can weigh up to 400 pounds!

Loggerhead Turtle
Loggerhead Turtle

On the second dive, we go to The White Hole and then Turtle City. The White Hole was a cave that had the roof collapse, so now looks like a bowl. There is a group of tarpon (large, ugly silver fish) hanging out at the side of the bowl.

Green Turtle
Green Turtle

Turtle City is what we have come for. The depth here is a little shallower than the turtle highway so the turtles come here to sleep. I lose count of the number of Green Turtles we see. Most of them did not like the group of divers and headed to the surface when we approached. Took photos of any turtle that swam my way. They are such lovely creatures.

Green Turtle
Green Turtle

It was a great day boat diving and spending time with the turtles.

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Creature of the Day – Flamingo Tongue

Flamingo Tongue

The Flamingo Tongue is a sea snail. The brightly coloured pattern is actually a mantle covering its shell. It will retract the mantle if in danger and the shell underneath is plain white.

They feed on the soft coral that they are sitting on. They will leave a scar on the coral, which will heal.

Flamingo Tongue
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