Bimini Beach Rocks Revisited

I’m so happy to be back in the Bahamas after a summer of repairing and renovating the boat.  We checked in at Alice Town, Bimini, then I hiked across the island to snorkel the rocks right off the beach near Sherry’s Beach Bar and CJ’s. Click here to take a look at my previous post about this site.  I can visit the same places over and over again and will often see something new, sometimes something I have never seen before.

One of the first things I saw was this octopus.  It was sitting out in the open on top a rock.  The Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is one of the few octopuses that come out during the day. They are masters at camouflage and can change color and body texture instantly.

This octopus moved very little, even when I approached closely with the camera. You can see the bulbous body cradled by the tentacles.  The eyes bulge out at the top of the body.
The next day I found an octopus peeking out of a small hole in the rock.  I am not sure if it was the same one as above.  An octopus has no shell or bones and is very fluid.  They can pour themselves into very small spaces.  The entrance to the hole is covered with Fire Coral (top), pink Reef Cement algae and green algae.

Exposed corals, algaes and other attached organisms are often cropped short by the wave action and sand scouring.  Look in holes, depressions and cracks in the rock to find abundant life on an otherwise “bare” rock.

I found a bright Yellow Fan Worm (Notaulax occidentalis) protected in a rock depression lined with Fire Coral (Millepora sp.).  The yellow gills of the worm protrude from a tube embedded in the rock.  I did not notice the small crab sharing space with the worm until I took a look at the picture after my dive.
Another colony of Fire Coral was home for a Clinging Crab (Mithraculus sp.?).
A Tidal Spray Crab (Plagusia depressa) was hiding just a few inches away in the same coral.   Half of its colorful body and legs is hidden under the rock.   These crabs are commonly seen scurrying around wet exposed rocks and seawalls.
This is a crab that I had never seen before.  The Blackpoint Sculling Crab (Cronius ruber) has flattened back legs for swimming, like its cousin the Blue Crab.  Look closely to see the striped antennae, the eyes (next to the antennae) and the mouth appendages (maxillipeds).

I also was able to photograph two species of fish that I had never seen before, both were blennies.  Blennies are small elongated fish that are found on every reef.  They often hop along the rock and rest propped up on their pelvic fins.  They feed on algae and small invertebrates.

The Gold Line Blenny (Malacoctenus aurolineatus) belongs to a large very diverse family, the Scaly Blennies (Labrisomidae).  I often see Scaly Blennies perched near a hole in the rock and they are often cooperative photo subjects.
You have to look very closely on a vertical rock surface to find the head of a Tube Blenny (Chaenopsidae) sticking out of an old worm tube.  This is another diverse and colorful blenny family.  The hole is about 1/4″ in diameter.  This one is a Secretary Blenny (Acanthemblemaria maria).
Here is a close-up of the Secretary Blenny.

There are some fish I have wasted gigabytes (thank goodness for digital cameras) trying to photograph because they are small and active.  I was elated to finally get a picture of this 1 inch juvenile Dusky Damselfish in spite of the waves and surge.

There were many juvenile Dusky Damselfish (Stegastes adustus) darting in and out of holes and cracks in the rocks.  Damselfish juveniles are one of the most colorful fish on the reef, but this one, like most, grows up to be a rather plain brownish adult.  To the left of the fish are several white hydrozoan polyps.

We don’t stay long in Bimini, just to check in, then we are on our way.  This was a great start to a new season of snorkeling and SCUBA diving.

A beautiful place to end the day.