Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas Coordinates: N25° 11.039′ W76° 24.473′ Depth 0-15 ft. This is one of my favorite snorkels here in the Bahamas. This cave is located at Staniel Cay and was the set for a famous scene in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. Tour groups come to see it by the droves swimming in for about 15 minutes to see the cave itself and completely missing the amazing life all around them. Be aware of strong tidal currents in some places—best time to go is at low slack tide but, of course, that’s when everyone is there. The rock islands nearby also are interesting for snorkeling but, again, watch out for the currents. Outside the cave is a beautiful coral reef that comes right up to the surface.
At high tide the entrance is covered with water–you have to dive under a ledge to get inside. It’s a short dive under the rock.
It was not particularly clear when we started this dive. This is the entrance to the cave. Note the cluster of coral and sponge on the lower left.
If you can dive down a little closer you find the rock is covered with sponge and coral.
Take a look around the entrance–It is covered with sponge and coral.
As you go in the grotto, look to the left. There is a crack in the rock where larger fish like to congregate.
You may be accosted by a school of Sergeant Majors
Then, take your head out of the water—and you are inside.
The light is dim inside the cavern and colors are washed out. If you have a camera with a flash you will be surprised by the vibrant colors of the sponges attached to the walls of the cavern.
Look for this large odd-shaped sponge on the bottom.
At the other end of the grotto is a large opening.
Opening out to a beautiful coral garden.
There is an overwhelming diversity of corals and sponges. The more you look the more you see.
The near vertical walls are covered in plate-type corals.
It is easy to see Crinoids (Feather Stars) under ledges and among the plate corals but you can even spot them in holes close to the surface. Crinoids are Echinoderms related to sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers.
Off in the deeper water is a forest of soft corals.
On your way back to the dinghy, near the entrance to the grotto, there is a sandy, rubble-strewn place you might be able to see a Yellow Headed Jawfish (Ophistognathus aurifrons).
There is way too much here to include in one blog. There may be sequels!