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February 5, 2014

Roatan Trip Report #3

Published on February 5,2014
By Colin Zylka

What a day of fun and great dives! During each of the two morning dives, we again spotted large green moray eels freely swimming over the reef. Other sightings included a scorpionfish, a few lionfish (more on that later) and tons of healthy barrel, tube and vase sponges. Our new divers are really “getting their feet wet” with all the gear assemblies, diving and disassemblies….heck, they're starting to look like old pros!

One of the highlights of the trip so far was today's dolphin dive, which is an optional dive conducted at Anthony' Key Resort. At the resort is the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences, and they specialize in dolphin behavior and conservation. The whole experience consists of a 10-15 minute session at one of the dolphin pens located at Bailey's Key, just adjacent to the resort, then a 45 minute dive with some of the dolphins that are kept at the resort. During the first session, the divers meet at one of the pens, where there is a floating dock used for training purposes for the close encounter that is part of the dolphin dive. We leaned about dolphin anatomy, how they reproduce, their habits, and what and how much they eat. The dolphins here get fed quite regularly as part of their training and each dolphin eats about 30 pounds of small fish per day!

Dolphin dive at Anthony's Key Resort

After the dock session, we got back on the dive boat and headed out to an aptly named dive site right in front of the resort called “Front Porch”. Here, all the divers converged at the anchor block in about 50 feet of water with the dolphin trainer….who would have the dolphin following them during the short ride from the pen to the dive site. We spent the eary part of the dive waiting for the dolphins to arrive and after about 20 minutes they came! Spinning, swirling, rollicking about us, with the trainer brgining them in for a close inspection and even stopping them in mid water so we could take photos.

Once you see these magnificent creatures under water, you develop a healthy respect for their beauty, grace and power. The trainer at one point held on the the tail of the dolphin and tried to bring it down to the sand…..and we all thought if that dolphin wanted to, it could take the trainer right off the sand without so much as a flick of it's tail. The dolphins stayed with us for over 30 minutes, but each 5-10 minutes or so it would surface for a breath of air and then descend right back to our group.

On Monday evening we attended a presentation on fish identification, which was done by one of the Instructors at the resort. He spoke at length about the lionfish problem that many Caribbean islands face, and how Roatan is trying to combat the problem. He asked us how many lionfish we had seen over the first two days…and we told him about 1 or 2 per dive site. He said they want to know because if they see the population is starting to grow, they will hold “lionfish derbies”, weekend events where locals will try to spear lionfish to help control the population. Prizes are awarded for largest number speared, biggest and smallest lionfsh.

The big event at the resort tonight was the Fiest Night out on the key….a beach barbecue with fish, ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, cake and cookies, and of course lots of beer! Live music, local dancers, crab races and other fun things were all part of the evening. All this fun makes one quite tired, and many of us decided to head to bed early as we are looking forward to tomorrow's dives!

 

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