Archive for the 'Fish Behaviors' Category
Author: Jeffrey "Hammerhead" Philips
My true intention was to do a post each time I went snorkeling at Peanut Island last summer. That didn’t happen, maybe next summer.
Even though the island and intracoastal looks packed, which it is, most sun worshipers don’t venture far from their boats or the picnic area. This leaves the snorkeling site with very few people. And those that do walk down the concrete walkway, rarely swim on the outside region of the rocks, leaving plenty of salt water to explore and fish to observe.
One reason Peanut Island is fun to visit are the people you meet.
One popular water activity is paddle boarding. Looks like a lot of work to me, but the interest is growing. The key is to ride the tides. Some people like to strap a lunch and beach towels into a plastic crate and paddle to the island.
Italian greyhounds with their owners
Peanut Island is pet friendly and so is Captain Joe’s Ferry service. And those who take their cats and dogs are considerate of other visitors. I have never experienced a loose dog running through a volleyball game or jumping over people lying on blankets. Also, the owners pick up after their pets so there is never a worry about stepping into something unpleasant.
This is author Diane A.S. Stuckart and her hubby, Jerry, and their two Italian greyhounds. Ranger is the one in the orange life vest. Rylee is in the yellow vest, a baby at seven months old. Some of you may recognize Ranger. He is the Pio the Hound, in the Leonardo da Vince mysteries that Diane authored. Ranger was also the model for the cover.
But the main reason to snorkel Peanut Island is what’s under the water. Fish and lots of them. The french grunts are abundant. You can find them at every set of rocks. They seem to like relaxing on the ocean side versus beach side. And these guys do not mind being photographed. They’ll stay in one place all day smiling at the lens.
These oval bottom scooter peacock flounder is always around. Often, they are difficult to find. Their favorite place seems to be the two sets of northern most rocks on the beach side. Usually they prefer the sandy area about ten to fifteen feet away from the mounds. The reason, because they are bottom dwellers, their colors blen into the sand minicing the shadows from above. They are ambush predators that lie in wait and then swoop in and get their dinner.
The blues and golds of the queen angelfish pop out against the brown and off-white rocks. This fish likes to play hide-and-seek with the snorkelers. He waits until spotted and approached before slipping into a crevice. While a swimmer waits for him to come back out and play, this beauty slips through a back door, circles around, and watches the watcher. This is one of the most curious creatures at this spot and he loves to observe people. I find him mostly at the most southern set of rocks and on the inlet side.
The spotted scorpionfish is one I give a wide berth. I do not need to be hit by one of his spines that are part of his fore dorsal fin. Puncture wounds cause severe pain, illness, and are venomous. But they are fun to watch. They like to hop along the sand instead of swimming like most fish. Their camouflage is so effective, that if they are lying next to a rock, they will go unnoticed. I find these guys on the second set of most southern rocks, beach side.
The rocks of Peanut Island are fairly young when compared to the reefs offshore. But the diversity grows each year. For those who prefer to drift, instead of swimming, to be still, instead of thrashing and splashing, will be rewarded to the uniqueness of this gem in the ocean. This dusky blenny can be found usually when the sun is not blocked by clouds. It is as if he too, wants to get a tan. The blennies are unafraid of snorkelers and will allow you to approach closely.
I could be prejudiced, but I don’t think I’m wrong, the prettiest fish is mermaid Kitty.
Until next time.
Author: Steven Kerry Brown
Working on a book the afternoon of the transplant.
I was supposed to have the transplant on June 14, but the donor’s product was delayed in flight because of bad weather. I think the product was coming from Germany but nobody will confirm that. They said it’s just like you see on television. The guy with the blood product gets on a plane with the stem cell’s in a hand carried cooler and flies directly to the US and then to the Gainesville, Fl airport. He brings it to the hospital and it goes to the bone marrow lab where they “clean it up”. Not sure what that means, but I think they try to extract any extraneous red blood cells. Especially in my case the donor is B+ and my blood type is A+ so they are very incompatible and they were expecting some serious rejection problems.
They had the crash cart, oxygen, and suction standing by just in case. Had me a little bit worried. I was given a bunch of “pre-meds” and including steroids starting about 8am. Finally about 10 am we started the transplant.The room was full of people, nurses, doctors, lab techs, watching the procedure. Below you’ll see a photo of me during the transplant. Actually it turned out kind of boring. They don’t want any excitement during the procedure. Boring is good. I was feeling pretty good afterwards and later in the afternoon was able to walk 4 laps around the ward. Fourteen laps is a mile.
Standing Room Only During the Transplant
My blood counts should drop considerably over the next 5-7 days until my immune system is totally down to zero. About that time, hopefully, the stem cells will began to graft. Then we have to fight what is known as Graft vs Host disease. I’ll save that for a later blog. Over the last two days my immune system has dropped in half and then in half again last night.
During this whole chemo thing prepping for the BMT I’ve felt pretty good except for Wednesday where I felt really crappy and all of the intense chemo was catching up with me. What’s funny is the nurses come in to the room to began a chemo drip and they don all of this protective gear, goggles, mask, chemo gown so that they don’t get accidentally splashed with it. Yet it goes almost directly into my heart via a CVL line, which I’ll go into later. Makes me wonder if it’s so hazardous to them, what is it doing to me?
- Nurse Lauren holding one of the bags of stem cells.
The nurse today told me about a guy who walked over to the other Shands north tower across the street pushing his IV cart with him. He didn’t realize that he was dripping chemo all the way and they had to call in the hazmat team to clean it up. Makes me wonder.
I was feeling well enough later in the afternoon to go back to writing a book I’m working on.
Author: Steven Kerry Brown
I’ll be posting another follow-up on the Jane story and what happened at the mobile home the night Haleigh disappeared. This will go up on Sunday June 10.
Author: Jeffrey "Hammerhead" Philips
Friday, May 25th., three days before Memorial Day. God bless all of our veterans.
There are many different ways to arrive on Peanut Island. I usually hop a ride on Captain Joe’s ferry, the Buccaneer. Ten bucks for a round trip ticket.
Peanut Island - Bringing the family
Some people motor their own boat and tie up at the docks or drop anchor in ankle deep water close to the beach. Some come by canoe or kayak and beach their vessel on the sand. Today, I saw a first. A couple came by paddle board. No, that wasn’t that unusual, but strapping a life vest onto the family dogs, sticking them into a plastic box, that is. And this is before the craziness begins. Each to their own.
Peanut Island - Sergeant Majors
When the sergeant majors swim in, they don’t do it in onesies and twosies, they come in mass. At first, they give you a wide berth, then after 10 or 15 minutes, they no longer care. Some will flirt in front of your mask, others will form bands and swim underneath you. It’s quite a startle if you’re not expecting them. Their lips look like they are kissing the water as they dash by. Most of the time these pan-size fish hang out over the open sand, free of the rocks, gliding back and forth flashing their yellow with black bar bodies in the overhead sunlight.
Peanut Island - Barracuda
Of course, anytime you have this many fish swimming out in the open, enjoying life, a predator will come lurking. With his mouth being close to 1/4 of his body length, and his jaws lined with teeth designed for slicing flesh, the barracuda can be very intimidating. This fish loves to engage in a staring contest. His mouth slowly opening and closing. He wants to be king.
In reality, this fish is timid. His behavior of swimming close to people is one mostly out of curiosity. If you swim towards him, he dashes off in the opposite direction to hide in the hazy blue. But still, each time a six-footer comes in to inspect me, I do get a chill down by back.
Peanut Island - French Grunt
One thing nice about the fish of Peanut Island, there is always a school of fish to make you feel welcome. The french grunts gather in groups of 15 to 18, sometimes swimming in tight circles or scooting from one rock cropping to the next. If you don’t follow, they’ll wait, pausing for you to catch up, seemingly saying, “Come on, let’s play”. Their yellow striped bodies catch the light and give a relaxing feeling as they sway back and forth with the current. Life’s good.
Until next time.
Author: Jeffrey "Hammerhead" Philips
On Sunday, the 20th. of May, Kitty and I arrived at Peanut Island on the backside of high tide. But knowing it’d be slack for about an hour and have maybe another 30 minutes before the out going tide dragged the dirty water over the rock islands, we hoped for clear water. And we were right.
Peanut Island - new friends
Sitting, wearing sunglasses is Richie. He has been with us many times in our snorkeling excursions. Standing is his friend, Paul. When we asked him if he had ever been snorkeling before, he replied, “Just once, in the Cook Islands.” That had to have been a great experience. Kitty and I once spent a week scuba diving in Fiji and the colors and patterns of the underwater life sent our brains into sensory overload. But Paul was reserved and didn’t share much on how he arrived at the Cook Islands other than in another life he worked on planes. Envy got the better of me.
Behind Richie, is Diane A. S. Stuckart. Also known as Ali Brandon, or as Alexa Smart, and sometimes as Anna Gerard. This woman has a multiple personality disorder. No, not really. She is an award winning author, writing historical novels, romances, mysteries, and short fiction. If you like to read, and I have several of her books, you must try one of hers. You can visit her at: www.dianestuckart.com.
Enough of the people I met topside. Time to introduce to you new underwater friends.
Kitty counted 43 species of fish in about 50 minutes. That’s almost a different specie every minute. No wonder this is a great place to snorkel. But staying around the rocks and not glancing out across the sand is depriving yourself of seeing more fish. This porkfish stayed about fifteen feet from the second most northern set of rocks and on the inlet side.
This guy was bashful. He swam from rock to rock nipping at the algae and grasses. But I never saw him with any of his buddies. And every time he felt the pressure wave from me swimming towards him he darted off. To get closer, I tried the old ”float and drift on the surface and see what happens” method. Once, he swam underneath my stretched out form. Never venturing closer than a couple of arm lengths away. Still it was a pleasure seeing him skirt from one stone to another.
There were two schools of glassy sweepers. One towards the surface and the other closer to the white sand. Both, however, stayed within the protection of the rocks and at times would slip into the shadows to hide. I like the way they swim in tight packs, circling one another. I was taught that their names were hatchetfish, and I still call them that today. Not many fish have that deep belly like they do. And like most fish, if you relax and stay still, they come to you. Within minutes these beauties were circling my finger tips. What joy.
This creature is called a bearded fireworm. If you ever touch one, you’ll know right away why the name fireworm was given. The hairs, or bristles, extending from its backside can easily pierce your skin. Very painful. And the reminder that you touched one will stay with you for days. But some people, like my wife, can get these worms to crawl up onto her palm. I’ve never tried it and I don’t recommend it.
This reef inhabitant never gets in a hurry. He crawled across the sand from rock to rock. Sometimes, raising his head and surveying what’s in front of him. Then slowly preceding in that direction. This is one creature that you can easily show your fellow snorkelers. Even if they are several yards away from you. Unlike fish, who promptly swim away and hide in the rocks, this worm doesn’t travel fast or far.
As always, another great day at Peanut Island.
Let’s consider the parrotfish. In the Atlantic-Caribbean area there are several species of parrotfish. You can see them swimming around the reef alone or in aggregations of a few to close to 50. They show up in many colors and many color combinations. Divers and snorklers are familiar with this reef inhabitant. They are one of my favorite genuses.
Parrotfish get their name from the shape of the fused teeth. It resembles the beak of a parrot. These fused teeth are used to scrape alga and coral polyps from the reef structure. A diver can hear this if she listens near where they are feeding. As a result of this feeding habit, they also bite off chunks of the reef. They then grind this up and excrete it as sand. Parrotfish are major sand-makers. Much of the sand on tropical beaches is created by parrotfish. In fact, each adult can excrete up to 1 ton of sand a year. So next time you are on a tropical beach, thank a parrotfish.
Their common names are as varied as they are – blue, princess, queen, rainbow, midnight, stoplight, redband, redtail, yellowtail. Identifying these guys is difficult because the juveniles and addults don’t look alike and they also go through sex changes as adults and females become terminal males with different colorations. There are actually 3 phases – juvenile, initial, and terminal. But to make matters even more complicated, not all terminal males were once females and not all juvenile females will become terminal males. Sone are born male and just stay male. Some are functional hermaphrodites and change sex from fully funtioning females to fully funtioning males. And during all this changing of sexes – or not – their body shape and coloration also changes. Identification can be and is tough for parrotfish.
Another interesting habit of some of the species is the formation of a mucus coccoon at night. A fish will find a cozy hole in the reef at sunset, snuggle in and create a mucus coccoon to hide from predators while he gets his forty winks. To a diver peeking in, the fish looks fuzzy and out of focus. But he is just hiding from predators and playing it safe.
Parrotfish can also change colors, going from bight greens, blues, and reds to a drab mottled appearance. This is another way they try to evade predators. They swim along the top of the reef using only their pectoral fins (the pair along the side just behind the gills), using their tails only when in a big hurry.
With all these variations in color, shape, and sex is it any wonder this genus is one of my favorites?