Divers visiting The Bahamas most want to see sharks and stingrays among others
WHAT-TO-DO – NASSAU, CABLE BEACH & PARADISE ISLAND – JAN 2007 EDITION
You won’t find the photo of a shark on a “most wanted” list in the post office, but it’s by far the fish most divers want to see in The Bahamas.
Stuart Cove of Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas estimates that 40 per cent of his guests come for the sharks – especially Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezii). These sleek beauties are featured on Cove’s shark feeding dives.
Sharks are profitable to The Bahamas, as well as interesting to divers. A visitor survey conducted by Cove and Skin Diver magazine estimates that a live shark swimming in the sea generates an estimated $100,000 a year for the country. “They should be the national fish of The Bahamas,” says Cove.
Cardinal Collie, a PADI master instructor with Bahama Divers, agrees. “People find them attractive for what they seem to represent – danger and intrigue.”
The second most-wanted fish is any member of the stingray family. Several species are found in Bahamian waters, including the rather drab Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina) and the gorgeous spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari).
“Stingrays are very gentle animals,” Collie says. “They’re fun to watch [because] they’re bullet-like as they glide through the water.”
Here are others in the top five positions on divers’ most wanted list.
3. Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), a favourite food fish, are naturally curious and readily approach divers for a handout. Both Stuart Cove’s and Bahama Divers attract fish to their dive sites with regular feedings.
4. Spectacularly-coloured queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) are next in line. These blue and yellow fish, up to 18 inches long, are common to reefs throughout The Bahamas.
5. Tied for fifth are the tiny yellowhead jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) and the elongated trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus). A large jawfish is about three inches long and most are half that. Trumpet fish look like leafless twigs in the ocean and frequently swim vertically.
Also on the most wanted list are the queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula) and evil-looking green moray eels (Gymnothorax funebris).
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