October 2012 ~ Bermuda – an island where we ran wild with our obsessions! While I prepared to spend the morning bottle hunting with Tammy and Ken Marks, Chris Flook pulled up to our dive boat in his launch and rescued Ned, whisking him off to explore the Sargassum. An easterly wind had conveniently blown rafts of the seaweed into a nearby bay, giving Ned all the excuse he needed to jump ship. They came roaring back three hours later with a bucket full of tiny juvenile fishes, including two species of Ned’s favorites: flying fish.
We met Chris years ago in the Bahamas, where as collector of specimens for the Bermuda Aquarium, he had joined us for a lionfish data collecting expedition. He made quite an impression when he casually leaned over the side of the boat with a red plastic cup and deftly scooped up a half-inch flying fish. We spent a lot of time exploring the Sargassum with him during our 2009 visit to Bermuda but didn’t capture any images of flying fish then.
Last year, Ned had quite a flying fish adventure in Indonesia (chronicled in our Alert Diver article, Team Flying Fish), so returning to Bermuda to try to find some of the 13 species known from these waters was high on our list. Chris is now executive director of Bermuda’s Blue Halo initiative but he graciously took time out to show Ned more of the Sargassum’s exquisite animals. He was quite amused at Ned spinning in circles in 4 feet of water as he chased the fishes with his camera.
To get ready for this trip, I re-read William Beebe’s 1932 book, Nonsuch: Land of Water (this book is available for download at the Internet Archive). In his chapter about flying fish, Beebe called them “Butterflyingfish.” Our fish in the bucket look a lot like two illustrated in the lovely frontispiece of the book:
Before the fish were released to a nearby raft of Sargassum, I slipped my hands under them for Ned to take a few final shots:
Best of all, Ned was able to include the photos in his presentation at the famous Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) last week:
Coming soon: More blenny images from last month’s trip to Bonaire and more Bermuda adventures, including bottle hunting and our REEF survey team’s search for the mythical Emerald Parrotfish. Stay tuned! ~ The BlennyWatcher