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Trip Reports: Trip # 4: Jan 22- Feb 12,2011 Wonderful as always
Bonaire Talk: Trip Reports: Trip # 4: Jan 22- Feb 12,2011 Wonderful as always
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By donna kramer (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #5) on Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:51 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

My first trip report, although our 4th trip to Bonaire in 4 years. Hope it is of some interest. Three weeks again this year. Spouse and I have stayed at Happy Holiday Homes each time; it suits us just fine ! He has to stay in touch via email , which is in-room at HHH. This is how we manage to ‘escape’ for three weeks at a time.
We upgraded from 3 ml wetsuits to Bare stretchy 5 ml wetsuits. We tend to have long dives, routinely 75 minutes, and we stayed quite comfortable this year. Had to add a couple more pounds of weight; that’s a down side of thicker wetsuits, but once in the water, it didn’t matter.
Our favorite dive this year became Ol' Blue.
It was there we saw our most unusual, and as yet unidentified sighting. Sorry, no photo of the creature. It looked like a very small, possibly juvenile, eel or snake, in a small Star Coral outcrop at about 20 feet, at the area where the sandy area turns into coral, directly out
from the beach entry. The ‘eel’ was about 4 or 5 inches long and about the thickness of an ordinary pencil from end to end. No fins, antennae, spines, or bristles that we could see. We could see both ends and observed it slithering steadily through the coral branches for maybe a minute. It did not swim, or leap; It stayed in contact with the coral as it slithered. It definitely was not a partly hidden arm of a brittle star.
The coloring is what really intrigued us. The creature was banded with alternating and equal-sized black and white stripes from head to tail. The width of each band was about 5-10 mm. No other markings distinguishable. The only images we could find on the web that looked similar in coloring are 1) an eel that is not found in the Caribbean (at least not yet), the Banded Snake Eel (or Harlequin Eel), Myrichthys colubrinus. If so, our creature would be a juvenile, as Myrichthys colubrinus grows to nearly a meter in length; or 2) an actual Sea Snake called the Banded Sea Krait (or Laticauda colubrina) which is also Indo-Pacific and not found in the Caribbean. It also grows to a substantial size, is venomous and lives part of its life on land. See
Anyone else seen one of the little black & white banded ‘eels’? Is the banded coloration seen in any of the local eels when they are juveniles? Or does Bonaire have yet another Indo-Pacific import? We reported it to Dee Scarr (a terrific resource). Her only suggestion was possibly a juvenile banded moray, that was a long time ago an exotic from the tropical Pacific.
We love looking for the unusual, including juveniles. We found the teeniest drum fish ever, maybe a half-inch long, down in a crevice between coral heads. We could not have recognized it as a drum, due to how tiny it was – but it moved in the classic slow, rotating way that no other fish do.
We found four octopus, each curled up in a crevice in a coral head. Guess you can tell that we spend a lot of our dive searching coral heads for interesting creatures ! and we find them. We use Nitrox and tend to spend most of our time between 25’-40’ which is why we can have long dives. Our personal best this trip was 105 minutes. Yes, we try to surface with the standard 500 psi.
We noticed much more bleaching of coral heads, especially on the south end. We were told it has been observed and is being studied – but no answers yet.
Went on a couple of boat trips to Klein with Carib Inn. Very nice to be in an ordinary skiff with 7 people total, not on big motorboat with a whole group. The pilot, also the divemaster, gave us an overview, said “Who wants to come with me?”, and let us do our own thing. We like that !
Did a second UV night dive with VIP divers. As superlative as the first time. We are really pleased Bas’ business seems to be doing well. They offer customized, individualized dive tours for the same price as going with a group in a herd.
My husband loves BBQ, so we were at BobbyJans and the Bonaire Grill. Since B-grill is open most nights, and closer, it became our new favorite stop. Otherwise, we pretty much buy our own groceries. We stay too busy diving, and too tired afterwards, to go to a restaurant. There are many fine restaurants, we just prefer the quicker “Snacks”. Preparing our own meals, 90% shore diving, a rental truck, and staying at Happy Holiday Homes, usually keeps our costs for 3 weeks to $3000 or less, not including air fare.
Each year we look for some sort of cultural event. This year it was a concert and lecture at the Playa on the musical and literary culture of Bonaire. It ended with the crowd singing the anthem for Bonaire, and was quite beautiful.
Last, the ultimate mosquito weapon ! An electrified mosquito racquet, with a rechargeable battery. From Lucky store, about $10. My poor spouse seems to be a mosquito-magnet. Indoors, any mosquito finds him and gives him painful bites. Once he had the electric racquet, he could clear out close to 100% of the mosquitoes that managed to sneak indoors. Then he could go to sleep at night without being bitten constantly. He could also clear the mosquitoes out from the patio area, so we could sit outside. Funny how they often don’t bother me and yet drive my husband crazy.
Hope you enjoyed the write-up on our trip.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rolf Kurzhals (BonaireTalker - Post #20) on Monday, March 21, 2011 - 7:31 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Your "eel" may be a harlequin pipefish (Micrognathus ensenadae). Found 2 of them last trip.They almost look hexagonal.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Renee (BonaireTalker - Post #82) on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 6:46 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Donna, Nice trip report. I liked that you spend so much time looking for the small things. It always amazes me when I slow down and just hover. The fish seem to surround me when I do that. We dove Ole Blue a couple days ago and it was nice. Such an easy dive with lots of shallow area that is healthy. I am noticing that there seem to be a larger quantify of fish when we do the mid day and afternoon dives, versus the morning dives.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ABCdivers (BonaireTalker - Post #66) on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 7:15 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with Rolf, your "eel" could be a harlequin pipefish. Below are a couple of links to pictures of pipefish.


Donna, please let us know what you think.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By donna kramer (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #6) on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 12:44 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for the comments. At first we considered whether the creature could be a pipefish. We were within 3 feet of the creature, maybe as close as 2.5 feet, watched it for a minute or so, and neither of us saw any type of elongation on the front. The pipefish in the photos has a snout. Also, the Ol Blue creature did not taper at the tail end. It appeared to be the same thickness, about the thickness of a pencil, from front end to back end. We could not have told which end was the head, and which was the tail, except by its movement. Despite being within 3 feet, We could not distinguish any features on the front end, or tell what the eyes looked like. So the eyes must have been very small.
The banding in the pipefish photos provided looks similar, except 'our' creature had distinctly pure black and pure white bands. As distinct as the squares on a checkerboard; No shading in between bands. Head was black (hence the problem seeing its eyes), then the first white band, and so on, alternating down its entire length. If juvenile pipefish are rounded at both ends, with the snout undeveloped, and the banding more distinct, it could be a possibility. Darn, I wish we had a photo ! Oh Well. Just another reason to go back to Bonaire and search again. If this is the only such creature ever spotted, it's just an oddity. Our biggest concern is it being another introduced intruder. Guess after the Lion Fish problem, we are sensitive to this issue.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By robint (BonaireTalker - Post #47) on Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 2:41 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

did it look something like this?
harlequin pipefish from Cozumel


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By brenda (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1285) on Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:59 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

there is a saddle or saddle back snake eel. Habitat NE Atlantic, and Indo Pacific.

Looks very much like a krait


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Carvalho (BonaireTalker - Post #39) on Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 5:49 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

The link is to a picture of a saddle back snake eel


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By donna kramer (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #7) on Friday, March 25, 2011 - 2:23 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I hoped posting the description of the Ol Blue creature would generate some comments. Of the links provided above, the photo of the saddleback snake eel is the closest to what we remember. I found another link to a photo of the saddleback,, posted on a blog by a diver in Hawaii. If the snake eel in this link photo were 5" to 6" long, it would be a better match than the other two my husband thought it could be (the Banded Snake Eel or the Banded Sea Krait) Pipefish seem consistently to have a long snout, and the Ol Blue creature did not have a snout. Its head tapered only marginally, not distinct from its body. By the way, the mosquito racquet is rechargeable, no batteries required. One warning: it's fragile (the spin on cheaply made) Don't drop it or hit anything substantial with it ! Our next door neighbor was swatting flies with it, and swears that burnt his up ! LOL. But he bought another racquet anyway, and happily limited his kill to smaller insects .


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