Thursday, June 19, 2008

Second Trip To The Abacos: EXPLORING THE WATERS


The water in the Abacos is multi-colored. In one area it's cobalt blue, in another it's turquoise, and in many places it can be a clear green, like looking at the sea bottom through a old-fashioned green coca-cola bottle. We saw many shades of blue and green as we explored the different islands.

Gillam Bay is near New Plymouth, the quaint settlement on Green Turtle Cay. The water there was a pale turquoise the day we visited, as you can see in the picture above. It was very calm and soothing, warm and clear and beautiful. Just up the coast of this island, we stopped at a beach overlook and took two more pictures of the water - on the left you can see out to the Atlantic and on the right was a shot looking back toward the Gillam Bay area. The water changed from pale to a medium shade then to a much deeper shade of that gorgeous turquoise.


Of course, the colors under the water are just as spectacular! We went snorkeling in several places during the week, and they were all wonderful in their own way. Fowl Cay Reef was our first stop, an underwater preserve between Scotland and Man-O-War Cays. It was low tide so the top of the reef was almost visible when we arrived, and we had to keep our bellies from rubbing against it while swimming over it.

Most of the time we swam around the reef walls or swam into cut-out areas to get a better look. It's a fabulous reef for snorkeling, we got "up close and personal" with the fish and the reef inhabitants. In one spot we saw thousands of baby fish floating back and forth in the current. Of course we had to keep a respectful distance from the living things on the reef to ensure nothing got damaged by our touch.

The Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park is another wonderful place to see underwater life. We tied up to one of the mooring balls placed at various Abaconian reefs to ensure the reef doesn't get damaged by boat anchors or outboard motors. We moored right in the middle of the park and jumped in to enjoy the view. We were rewarded with gorgeous displays of elkhorn coral, sea fans, sea whips, lots of fish and even a sea turtle swimming by. You can see the turtle in the bottom right-hand picture, near the upper left corner. I know he blends in but he's there, honest!

That same day we decided to explore the Mermaid's Reef, a fish-filled area near the shores of Marsh Harbor. There is a line of pastel homes nearby which helped us find this area, and also as we got closer we could see the Mermaid's sign bobbing in the cobalt-colored water.

We tied up to a mooring ball and started to swim with the fish. There aren't as many corals here, mostly encrusted rocks with lots and lots of fish. There was one particular parrot fish, a huge one decorated with bright yellow and pink, who swam by us constantly. Other smaller fish were going in and out of hiding places in the rocks.

For some great pictures of the reef in the Abacos, visit Shelly's site. In May of 2002, she went to all the same reefs we visited, but her camera captured the underwater world so much better than mine did. Be sure to click on her videos too, especially the one with the sea turtle. The one we saw at Pelican Cay was just like that one.


One day we went to Baker's Bay, the site of an abandoned cruise line's party dock and beach. Since the dock is still partly standing, the fish there have made it their underwater home. We saw a lot of fish, a paddle boat sunk and left behind as a home for the fish, and even a large baracuda hanging out near the pilings. There were also lots and lots of starfish, one of my favorite underwater sights.

Of course snorkeling isn't the only water-related activity in the Abacos. We swam at our dock, went fishing off-shore a couple of times, and we cruised over the water in our rental boat as we traveled around the area, exploring different islands.

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