pollyannamustdie: (Future Leathery Sea Hag in Bimini)
[personal profile] pollyannamustdie
I am somewhat distressed that it is taking me so long to get these written up. Again, if you were there, and have any factual corrections or can fill in any gaps in my recollections, please feel ever so free, if not downright begged, to do so. Thank you.

November 4, 2013

After breakfast, we snorkeled through the lagoon and around the bend to the pens out back, where baby lemon sharks are temporarily held for tagging and observation. Doc mentioned that we could get some exercise snorkeling around the mangroves, rather than just wading out from the beach behind Sharklab, which is often done. Doc said to hang close to the mangrove fringe, as that's where all the critters are.

Pam snapped a picture of this handsome starfish on our snorkel to the pens.

We saw a starfish, a wild ray come up from under a layer of sand and swim off, and our first several Cassiopea jellyfish.

When we reached the pens, we peered in. I could really only see swimming shadows, until a southern stingray came over to the orange fencing. How curious they are! Doc had told us to try to kick up as little sand as possible, but we silted everything up pretty bad trying to get our fins settled on the sandy floor, after swimming over the gate of the pen where three juvenile lemons, two young nurse sharks, and two stingrays were hanging out.

ray533    rayeye
Southern stingray regards you with the wizened eye of an elder god.

Baby lemon!

When we all got positioned with our backs to the flexible orange fencing, Doc fed the sharks and rays chunks of squid. Once all the marine creatures had enjoyed lunch (at some point he would remark on the cute full belly of the baby lemon), he got one of the juvenile lemon sharks, and walked us through all of the species primary physical attributes, including showing us where the sharks ears are, and quizzing us on the name of the electroreceptor pores, the ampullae of Lorenzini. He then quizzed us on why they are called ampullae, and gave a quick explanation that it is related to the Latin word for cup. Then, he quizzed us on why they bear the name Lorenzini. I said, "Because they're named after the dude who discovered them?" Folks chuckled, and he said, yes, they're named after the dude who discovered them. That dude's name was actually Lorenz, but they added -ini to make the name "more Italian." ;)

lemondemo400    pentonic
On the left, Doc is showing us the lemon shark; on the right, he puts the lemon shark into tonic.

After that, we each got to hold the lemon shark!

This is an ego-shatteringly unflattering picture of me, but I am standing there next to Doc Gruber, in Bimini's waters, holding a baby lemon shark! You can't even see much of the shark, because keeping it underwater is key to keeping it from being stressed, but the first dorsal fin is visible by my right wrist.

I remember wanting to be very careful with the little sharkie, to hold her so gently that she would feel relaxed. It was so amazing to hold an animal that I once despaired I would ever even see in person, let alone touch. They are so darling!

Here's Pam holding the wee lemon shark. Also pictured (l to r): Monica, Mike, and Melissa.

Doc then caught the smaller of the two nurse sharks, a male, and a very wee one! Doc let the little guy bite down on the loose finger of his glove so he could feel more calm. After the demo, we all got to hold him, too. The baby nurse shark's skin was a little rough in both directions, unlike the lemon shark, whose skin is very smooth head-to-tail, and a little rough tail-to-head.

Doc says these are the cutest things in the sea.

Nurse sharks don't really go into tonic the way that lemons do. Here, the brown dots on the baby nurse shark's underside can be seen. These spots fade as the shark matures.

The lighter-colored of the two stingrays came surprise-flapping up my side at one point. I squealed like a little girl! The stingray's underside was velvety soft. (These stingrays' stings had been removed, but don't worry, they grow back.) At another point, the larger of the two nurse sharks wedged itself under my fin to go after an errant chunk of squid. I'd noticed that something had gone under my find a moment or two before, but it didn't really hit me that it had been a piece of squid until the nurse shark nudged me to let me know that I needed to move my foot.

Here's the larger of the two nursies, swimming over Pam's fins.

After being in the pens, we had lunch. The weather was so bad that we had to change our plans, and do the Bimini Nature Walk and get our first look at Shell Beach. Shell Beach is famous for having no waves. THERE WERE HUGE WAVES.


To be continued...

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