Monday, March 15, 2010


My brother-in-law, the dentist would have loved the things we saw on our dives yesterday. Many of them had teeth, none of which were aligned or fit within the creature's mouth. We saw plenty of open, or gaping mouths that had one or more very hard, sharp objects as part of them.
But the only thing that bit us was the coral. That only happened because we bumped into it when we weren't paying close attention. A little coral rash isn't bad on us, but not nice for the coral.
Back to the jaws.
I am fascinated by all the ways marine life consumes its food. Unlike humans, who will eat anything, at any time and in front of anyone, I have not seen many sea creatures actually having their meal. Except on National Geographic specials, and that is what most of them are about. Okay, actually they're about creatures multiplying and replenishing, hunting, killing and eating.

We did see some nudibranchs having kinky sex (mating if you are reading this to little kids), but we also saw lots of mouths hunting for something to eat.
We saw more and bigger eels today, one of them, a viper eel caught my eye because it was like seeing a rottweiler who needed braces staring out of a large hole in the reef 60 feet under water. Unlike other morays, this guy can't close his mouth because the teeth are so large and jagged. Quite a looker. For some reason it makes me think of a guy I once dated.

We came across a huge shell animal called Triton's Trumpet. It was consuming a very large sea star by slowing sucking its inner flesh out. Kind of like watching a can collapse from change in air pressure. Okay, now the kids can say "Eeeeew, gross!"

We saw a very rare Hawksbill Turtle. Its mouth looks guessed it, a hawk's bill. It was nestled in among the reef chomping away at the coral as if it were a crisp green salad. I didn't know turtles ate coral like that. It made my teeth hurt to think of it.
We found a large 6 foot reef shark under a collapsed wharf. The poor thing was just trying to take a nap, and we kept swimming around it taking its picture. Mike practically laid down next to it trying to get a close up. Our dive master saw it had a hook in its jaw, with fish line trailing out. She tried to get the line untangled and follow it up to the hook so she could remove it. She got to where she was trying to roll it over to get to the hook, when it woke up and decided that was enough. She figured it was time for us to back off at that point. It probably felt like any of us when our naptime is interrupted...grumpy. Reef sharks are usually non-aggressive, except when they're not.

There was a frog fish that likes to hang out on this wharf as well. It looks exactly like the coral around it. Even the little dangling lure on its head looks like coral. We found out that when it grabs any fish that goes for the lure, it is one of the fastest movements in the natural world. Less than 1/30 of a second. Frame by frame it looks like this - frog fish and fish, frog fish and fish, frog fish and no fish. That is how fast those jaws work. It reminds me of our kids eating dinner after a long swim meet. Now that was frightening.
I'm getting hungry. Think I will go eat now.

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