This week’s guided reef walk was filled with excitement. Although the weather was slightly overcast, the waters were calm and inviting. The optimistic group entered into the reef at channel one and began our discussion on the many sea cucumbers found in our lagoon. Spotted immediately were the three most common species, Green, Sandy & Long Black Skinny sea cucumbers. We later came across the Leopard Spotted as well as the Breadloaf sea cucumbers. We discussed the differences between them and the guests were enlightened to learn how a few species actually expel cuvarian tubules as their defense mechanism against predators. As the tour progressed we found many wonderful Crabs (species name), as well as several Burrowing Clams (species name), hidden within the corals. The guests were amazed by all the beautiful colours and just how unique each individual species was. We continued on and came across a bright blue Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus); we stopped to watch the creature suck into its tubular home and slowly reappeared. The journey didn’t stop there. As we took a few minutes to discuss the surrounding types of coral, one of the guests noticed something slowly gliding along the coral surface. We were all enlightened to spot a small Octopus (Octopus cyanea) coming in for a look at the group; its camouflage was in full affect, taking on the brown/beige colours of the surrounding reef. It was an amazing spotting and a magnificent sight to see.
Nearly half way through the walk we also stopped a couple Abalones (Haliotis asinine) resting on the coral surface, as well as a Mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus), seen scurrying in and out of the corals, looking to have been interacting with another mantis shrimp on a nearby coral. The guests watched in amazement, thrilled to have seen such a wide diversity of species so far on our walk. As we got deeper into the lagoon, we spotted both a bright oragne New Caledonian (Nardoa novaecaledoniae), as well as a Blue Linckia (Linckia laevigata) sea star in very close proximity. As we picked up the sea star to give the guests a closer look, it was evident that the sea star had just been feeding, as its bright orange stomach was exposed from its center. Sea stars generally feed by absorbing food outside of the mouth by extruding its stomach over the prey and dissolving with powerful enzymes. As time was running short we had to begin our way back to shore, but our good luck remained straight through till shore, as we encounter a Blue-spotted Lagoon Ray (Taeniura lymna), quickly swimming past, just before we stepped out of the lagoon. This was in fact a reef walk for the record books. Thank you to all who came out!