Dangerous Marine Animals!
Location: Lighthouse Reef Atoll - Belize
by Wayne & Karen Brown
People are sometimes scared of certain fishes that we see when we go diving. We want to show you that these fishes are not really that scary and dangerous.
Moray eels: (1-6 feet long) There are no sea snakes in the Caribbean Sea. Moray eels are not snakes. Moray eels are just fish that look like snakes. Most of the moray eels we have seen diving here are less than 2 feet long, but today we did find a couple big green moray eels. One was about 3 feet long. The other was about 6 feet long!
Some people are scared of moray eels because they come out of their hole to look at you, they look like a snake, they have sharp, pointy teeth, and they move their mouths open and closed like they are trying to bite you. They are not trying to bite us. They move their mouths open and close to breathe. Moray eels hide in holes and tunnels in the reef during the day. At night morays swim around the reef looking for sleeping fish to eat.
Barracuda: (3-5 feet long) Barracudas are long, silvery and have big sharp teeth like dogs. Some people are scared of barracudas because they look mean, have big teeth and swim right at you, moving their mouths open and closed, like they are going to try to bite you. Don't worry. The barracudas are only breathing. The barracuda are curious like cats. They want to see what you are doing so they swim up to you to see what's happening. We have a big barracuda that is hanging out under our boat hoping to catch some of our hitchhiking fish (See Day 8) for lunch.
Sharks: (3-8 feet long) Many people who are not scuba divers are scared of sharks. Experienced scuba divers know that sharks are usually more scared of them. Sharks are like underwater garbage collectors. They mainly eat fish that are dead, dying or are sick and have a disease. By eating all the fish that are sick and have diseases it helps prevent the healthy fish from catching that disease. Sharks are actually important for keeping reefs and fish clean and healthy.
Divers don't usually see sharks while when they scuba dive. Last year on our 2001: A Sea Odyssey Expedition we saw nurse sharks or blacktip sharks almost every day when we dove off the island of Saba. Here in Belize we did not see any sharks until today. We found a 6-foot long nurse shark sleeping under a coral ledge. When we squeezed under the ledge to take a picture of it the shark swam away to find another ledge to nap under. It did not try to attack us even though we were right next to it under the ledge.
Scuba diving is a lot of fun and it is nice to know that while we are diving we don't have to worry about any animals in the water that would like to try and eat us.
Join us tomorrow as we make a night dive to explore the reefs at night and find out what happens on the reef after the sun goes down!
Wayne & Karen Brown
Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize
Position: 17º 13' N / 87º 36' W
Air Temp: 87ºF
Weather: light breeze, sunny with scattered clouds and calm seas.
Water Temp: 81ºF
This green moray eel we found in a hole was about 6 feet long!
This 4-foot long barracuda has been hanging around under our boat.
We swam after this 6-foot long nurse shark hoping it would stop so we could take its picture.