I have talked about the diversity in the Banderas bay before, so I thought I would introduce you to some of our daily sightings this week.
The most common fish we have here are the puffer fish. If you have been into the bay and stuck your head in the water with a mask on, you will have sly seen is the Black Blotched Porcupinefish. These are pretty fish with big, dreamy eyes and a pout that Joan Rivers has been trying to achieve for years! They look a bit odd when they swim as they have round bellies and really small fins, so they aren´t the fastest of swimmers, which is why they have their spines to protect them. When they inflate, they look like a spiky soccer ball, making them difficult for predators to eat. They are known to sleep a lot during the day, often hiding in rocks, but they clearly need to reset their body clocks as I see them on every dive. I think they have so many different names as there are so many of them. I have heard them called Burrfish, Spiny Boxfish, Blowfish, Balloonfish, Globefish, Swelltoads, Hedgehog Fish, Spiny Box Puffer, Blotched Porcupinefish, Shortspine Porcupinefish and Shortspine Porcupine. No wonder they look so confused.
Another common and cool fish is the Moorish Idol, better known as Gill from Finding Nemo. This sweetie has a highly compressed body that is shaped like a disc, with sharply contrasted vertical bands of white, yellow and black to make them stand out. Besides the colour, they have a snout and dorsal fin that define the characteristics of a Moorish Idol. The dorsal fin is long and extends backwards, narrowing into a trailing extension with a distinctive white colour. The snout is shaped like a tube, with a tiny mouth on the end. Ms. Rivers is probably highly jealous of this fish too!
Another guaranteed sighting is the Christmas tree worm. They are really cool worms that live in tropical reefs all over the world. These little creatures come in a variety of colours and are about 1 ½ inches tall. If you move the water over them, these little worms will burrow into a tube in the coral in a split second to protect themselves. They are tiny recreations of Christmas trees and are mimicked in the film Avatar. The worm´s plumes are used for respiration and to catch lunch in, then pass down their bodies to their mouths. When you see these tiny creatures, you really wouldn´t think they came in male and female varieties, but they do.
Finally, I have to mention the parrotfish. There are many in the bay, but the silliest one to spot is the Bumphead Parrotfish. Their name describes them perfectly. They look like parrots with their goofy blue beak and they have a big bump on their heads. This is allegedly from bumping into coral to loosen it before eating it, but I really can´t believe this fish is that silly and I have never seen one do this. Fish do feel pain, and I wouldn´t use my head when I had those teeth in my toolbox.
I have to go now as I really want to go and watch Nemo. Catch you next week.
Susan Keevil, PADI Master Instructor, PV Sea Dive, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.