Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Island Time

I think I'm finally into island time. I haven't shaved or changed clothes (except to dive, of course) since Sunday, and actually showered with soap once, last night.

Hey, protecting the environment! They have to pump out the septic tanks, process the merchandise and ship the residue off island. It costs money.

I shot some video yesterday, and tried to wrap my mind around the whole phenomenon of intrusive species. You see, Bonaire is the latest (and most remote) outpost of the dreaded lion fish. Its first prey is a species of really beautiful animal called the Spotted Drum, which likes to linger in the same nooks and crannies that lion fish prefer.

I finally saw a Spotted Drum yesterday, but it was huge, which means old, and I haven't seen any fry.

I'm hoping that, as heavily dived as the house reefs on the hotel strip on Bonaire are, this somehow keeps the lion fish at bay, that thru either fear of the bubble blowers or thru careful management practices (meaning capture, kill and eat) lion fish have been kept away from this part of the island.

Time and dives will tell.

But then the follow up thought occurred to me: if divers have managed to stress out the lion fish, how many other species of fish have we prevented from living a normal life on the reef?

It's not that divers are evil or anything. Most are very careful to respect the reef life and to even put the coral and fish ahead of their own safety. But accidents happen, and then there's the small percentage of yutzes who just have to ruin things for everyone by poking fingers into holes and carelessly dropping stuff, kicking fins willy-nilly and just being assholes.

But even careful divers, like me, how do we affect the reef ecosystem? After all, often I'll glide over a cleaning station where a grouper is having his teeth brushed, and he'll panic and swim off. What if some parasite takes the opportunity to cause an infection? And what if that one grouper who might have ended up spawning the line that finally takes out the lion fish, dies instead?

I can't worry about it much, but it's a nagging thought on the periphery of my consciousness.