Tarpon can tell time.

It’s almost 5 o’clock. The tarpon are here. They know what time it is. The Rock has a ritual called the Five O’clock Feeding and  by 4:45 you can see about 20 of them circling the dock. Smart fish.

  • Adult tarpon can grow 4–8 ft long and weigh 60–280 lbs.
  • Tarpon are the largest species of herring.

Most of these are about 4 ft:

-Capt Wilson

Land Hermit Crab

I take full responsibility for starting Hermit Crab Fight Club in my garden. Although, I didn’t do it on purpose. It happened like this. There is an octopus that lives at Singo Reef. He’s a pig. He eats whelks all day long and leaves their shells lying around. [Caribbean whelks or wilks are not whelks as everyone else knows them. They are really just turbos, but down here we call them wilks. In Cuba, they are called cigua . . . . . and we are officially sidetracked.] Anyway, when snorkeling Singo I usually clean up after his mess and one or two actually found their way back to my garden. By placing them there I created a shell exchange area for hermit crabs.

As you know from the last post, hermit crabs don’t create their shells. They grow into and grow out of them and when a vacant shell becomes available, well it’s a big deal. Hermit crabs use vacancy chains  when a new shell is encountered. It works like this: They all gather around the new shell and form a queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab that can fit into the new shell vacates his current shell the next in line, Number 2, will move into Number 1’s newly vacated shell. Now 2’s old shell is up for grabs and on down the line everyone gets a shot at a new, hopefully bigger, shell until finally the vacated shell is too small to be of any use to anyone. There is sometimes fighting over shells. They are crabs, after all. If one crab wants the shell of another hermit crab he’ll try to force him out by prying his body out of his shell. It can get ugly, so the first rule of Hermit Crab Fight Club is you do not talk about Hermit Crab Fight Club.

The hermit crab on the left no longer fits into his shell when he retracts and will probably be participating in a fight soon.

Land Hermit Crabs

Land Hermit Crabs

So, by placing the empty shells in my garden I gave them something to rally around. A place where the old shells stay. And now they are there every night. About 50 of them. Here’s a video:

It could be worse. It could be Iguana Fight Club.

Capt Wilson

-More great [videos]
-Photos of sea turtles, common fish seen snorkeling and other reef stuff.

Marine Hermit Crab

Hermit Crabs

This has to do with the marine hermit crabs. (Stay tuned for one dealing with land hermit crabs and the dangers involved. [That post])

Hermit crabs can not make a shell around them. They use empty shells for their homes and never kill the original occupant of a shell. When a hermit crab grows too big for the shell it is using, it searches for another one but won’t leave the current shell until it finds a new one. A prospective shell will get its tires kicked, so to speak. The hermit crab will check the fit, weight, and mobility before committing fully to the new shell. If it is not up to par, the crab will leave it and return to its old shell. Hermit Crabs are also known to steal shells from each other if suitable empty shells are not available. Ever wonder why you shouldn’t take shells from the beach? Cause it causes fights, see.

The following video shows a hermit crab feeding. He is digging in the sand looking for small animals to eat.

Capt Wilson

-More great [videos]

-Photos of sea turtles, common fish seen snorkeling and other reef stuff.

The Baths. What are The Baths?

The Baths

The Baths

  • The Baths are located on the south-west coast of Virgin Gorda (southern tip) between Spring Bay and Devil’s Bay.
  • The Baths are approximately 29 miles from Red Hook, St Thomas (as a boat flies)
  • Get their name from the  shortened form of the geological term Batholiths.
  • Batholiths are bodies of igneous rock formed beneath the Earth’s surface by the intrusion and solidification of magma.
  • Batholiths occur around the globe in over thirty locations. Eleven are located in North America. One in the Virgin Islands.
  • Contains large granite boulders, some as large as 40 feet in diameter, piled on top of each other forming passages and chambers.
  • The Baths require a bit of climbing and stooping.
  • The Baths are the #1 most visited place in the Virgin Islands.
  • Can be “Red Flagged” on days when the swell is bad. On these days swimming into or at the beaches is not permitted. The only way to visit the Baths on these days is to approach by land.
  • The Baths are not heated by hot springs as the name might lead you to believe.

The following video is a tour of The Baths as seen from the water starting at Spring Bay and finishing at Devil’s Bay:

Capt Wilson

-More great [videos]

Caribbean Reef Squid

One of the more intelligent reef critters is the squid. This one we spotted in the shallows while snorkeling. It wasn’t a very calm day so we were getting pushed around a little as you can see, but this squid seemed to be enjoying the encounter as much as we were.

Squid communicate by color change, shape and posturing. Their bodies can change from dark to almost clear in the snap of a finger. They can also shimmer and flash their colors and patterns. When schooling, they can send a message to a squid on the their left side and a totally different message to a squid on the right. That’s pretty cool.

The stretching and bending of their tentacles (posturing) is also part of their communication. The lifting of just one tentacle and the bending of all of them over its head, this one was definitely trying to communicate but on my good days I struggle with English. Not sure I’ll ever master Squid.

-Capt Wilson

There are a few species called flying squid that actually fly out of the water.