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.
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