February 24th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

If you’ve seen us, we’ve probably already talked about this, but our application videos are online now for the job where you hang out on the Great Barrier Reef for six months. It seems like an ideal expedition for Les Fruits de Mer. Links to our videos are here:

Madam J

Marc AuMarc

Hopefully we’ll make the shortlist so you can actually vote for us. There are only 34,000 other applicants, so our odds should be pretty good. G’day mate!

February 22nd, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Les Fruits de Mer were recently featured on the Octopus Diving and Snorkeling blog! The post was written by Sally, who runs Octopus Diving with her husband Chris. It’s our favorite dive shop in St. Martin, hands-down!

February 20th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Artificial reefs are man made structures placed underwater to promote reef formation. There are many kinds of artificial reef, ships being perhaps one of the most common, either inadvertently shipwrecked, or deliberately sunken after being cleaned and towed to the desired site. Artificial reefs are also made from cars, and retired subway cars.

Artificial reefs provide a substrate upon which corals, sponges and mollusks can grow. For example, this rudder has been encrusted with a variety of growth:


Artificial reefs also provide shelter for a variety of fish species. The structure provides shelter from predators, much like the recesses and crannies in a natural reef:


Concrete is a popular artificial reef material because it is inexpensive, and provides a good substrate for coral growth. In the photo below, J.P. (The Lion of the Sea) is adjusting starter coral attached to a small concrete artificial reef substrate. Notice that the structure has holes to allow the flow of water, otherwise it would be destroyed by the surge. As it turns out, this artificial reef structure was destroyed, most likely because, at 25 feet, it was not protected enough from the waves, tides and surge.


Below is a photo of a number of concrete reef pods near the wreck of the Ro/Ro off the coast of Sint Maarten. While you can see growth on these pods, coral and other reef-building organisms take time to become established.


Chris and Sally from Octopus Diving and Snorkeling in St. Martin hope to start artificial reef programs on the French side of the island, hopefully using grants or sponsorships to cover the cost of creating and deploying the pods. Sponsors may even be able to have a plaque on their undersea pod commemorating their contribution! We’ll let you know as plans unfold.

February 19th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Marc AuMarc has officially completed his application for the World’s Greatest Job. As soon as his application is available online, we’ll let you know where to go and vote for him!!!

February 18th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

I just figured out how to add a fancy new photo gallery thing, so expect some of them to pop-up on the site soon. This one, for example, features some of our favorite shots from our most recent expedition to St. Martin. Pretty fancy, eh?

[tiltviewer=flickr width=”500″ height=”500″ flickrtags=”sxm,2009,favorites”]

February 16th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Les Fruits de Mer returned tonight from their expedition to St. Martin. After a successful mission, the members will begin cataloging their data and identifying the flora and fauna they have photographed and video recorded. Expect to see further updates in the coming days with additional info from their expedition!

February 16th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Today Chris and Sally closed the dive shop so we could hunt for new dive sites together. Accompanied by another Chris, the five of us headed in search of new and exciting dive locations.


Our first stop was on the Dutch side of the island near the mile marker buoy. Despite the rolling surf, we were able to spot the buoy above the wreck of The Prosthelyte. We entered the water unsure of what we would find, and were pleasantly surprised. The wreck itself was right below us, and just beyond were large coral heads with many swim throughs. The fish were plentiful, including many small Barracuda. As we were performing our safety stop at five meters, we spied a shark below.

Our next stop was another wreck, the Roro, a large, largely intact barge. We swam through the ship and around the outside. Again there were many fish. Nearby perhaps 25 concrete pods marked the beginnings of an artificial reef project. All in all, another terrific site.


After lunch, we headed to the French side of the island and out towards the heel of Anguilla. We stopped about a third of the way to Anguilla near a series of fish trap buoys and descended, uncertain of what we would find. Our first encounter was with a large Spiny Lobster. We then traversed a large reef prairie with many beautiful sponges adjoining some interesting coral formations. We saw two turtles, including one resting under a coral ledge and were joined by a pair of Almaco Jacks, who followed us on much of our dive. We christened this newly discovered dive site Chris’s Reef.





On our way back we stopped at Creole Rock to practice our underwater navigation skills. On the grassy sea bed, Madam J spotted a large Stingray. We also deployed our banner underwater to commemorate a successful expedition.


February 15th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

The team arrived at Octopus Diving bright and early, bearing vintage Valentines for the Octopus crew–because we love them. J.P., Sally, and our team cruised out to the far reefs beyond Tintamarre Island for another commando drop drive on the Chico site. The visibility was fabulous, as the stormy weather has finally calmed. We found a turtle lurking in a coral cave, and were fortunate enough to photograph his spectacular exit from his hideaway, as he arced gracefully into the big blue. Other sightings included a 3-foot giant Caribbean Spiny Lobster waving his antennae under a ledge, a big Nassau Grouper staring at us from a hole, several Trumpetfish, and a tiny, just-arrived-at-adulthood Spotted Trunkfish concealed in a miniature nook in a coral head.


Our next dive was a new approach to the Tugboat wreck, where we observed an amazing Magnificent Urchin in the sand immediately before the wreck. It was indeed truly magnificent, appearing like a brilliant alien spacecraft in glowing deep purples and reds with its characteristic lines of iridescent deep blue dots and its central suspended violet globe absolutely striking against the white sand. We also swam with two large Porcupinefish, found another miniscule Spotted Trunkfish hiding in a narrow fissure in a coral formation, and saw many other varieties of fish both on the wreck and the adjacent reef. Returning to the Octopus mooring, the team spotted a promising new potential Extreme Shallow Snorkeling location from the boat: the rocky shores surrounding Petite Plage.




After a picnic lunch on the sunny terrace at the dive shop, of saucission sec, baguette, cornichons, and deliciously tangy unpasteurized fromage, the team geared up and headed out to investigate the new E.S.S. site. We discovered a vibrant mini-ledge reef at 1-2 feet, as well as some extremely shallow areas near the rocks, teeming with life. The area seemed to provide an excellent nursery, with juvenile Sargeant Majors, juvenile Parrotfish, and enormous, almost colorless silvery clouds of what we believe may have been teeny anchovy fry, appearing in abundance in depths ranging from as little as 5 inches to 3 feet. We also noticed a few extraordinary Fireworms of the bright green variation, clinging to coral-encrusted boulders. All our buoyancy and E.S.S. skills were called for to clearly photograph these poisonous creatures in the surging shallow water, which could easily have carried us close enough to be painfully burned by their fiery bristles.





We returned to the dive shop for the next phase in our Advanced training–an intensive session on underwater photography techniques, equipment, and care from ace undersea shutterbug Sally. We ended our Valentine’s Day with a seaside repast at Le Tastevin, drinking pink champagne and wearing matching pink outfits: pink stripes for Marc AuMarc, and a pink sea-creature-print silk maxi dress for Madam J.

February 13th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Team Les Fruits de Mer hosted a very special event this evening: the first annual Tacousteau, a celebration of delectable tacos, good friends, and the oeuvre of the premier undersea explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau.  

Guests arrived at the team base camp after 7 pm, directed by the massive team banner on the gate and the iconic red hat hanging on the front door. Sally and Chris (the owners of Octopus Diving), J.P. (the lion of the sea, divemaster extraordinaire), Guillaume (a.k.a. Madame J.P.), and Rene (le Boucher) enjoyed theme music, convivial conversation, and cocktails on the balcony, followed by a dinner of savory Mexican cuisine and a special screening of some classic Cousteau films documenting his adventures on the fabled boat Calypso. 


Attendees sported “J’adore le E.S.S.” shirts and red hats in honor of Les Fruits de Mer’s mission, and all did justice to a fabulous feast of spicy chicken soft tacos, Marc AuMarc’s signature guacamole, black beans, Madam J’s Mexican salad, and mango sorbet with coconut “sea stars”. There were many highlights of the evening, but particularly memorable was Rene le Boucher’s very first experience of the magic of the internet! He was introduced to the online world via Les Fruit de Mer’s official site page about his restaurant, Chez Rene Boucherie.  J.P. simultaneously translated the english page into french for Rene’s benefit, and le Boucher was thrilled to see that we had featured a photo we found on his restaurant wall, from his glorious rugby-playing teen years. Guillaume even showed Rene how he could search for his favorite old-school french music on the web. The soiree ended with drinks and conversation overlooking the sea and the starry night sky over Grand Case Bay. All in all, an evening that truly embodied the motto of Les Fruits de Mer: “Pour les sciences. Le plaisir. Et le boating.”


February 13th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Today we went for four dives, including two trips to the island of Tintamarre. First, we went to the seaward side of Tintamarre to Japanese Reef. While the waves are rougher on that side, the island prevents large surges underwater for excellent visibility. In preparation for this difficult entry, we geared up on the calmer side of the island and were delighted to see four dolphins frolicking beside our boat. It was almost impossible to pay attention to the dive briefing during such an enchanting encounter. We hoped they would join us on one of our dives, but today they did not.

We headed to Japanese Reef and prepared to enter the water commando-style, back-rolling into the water in pairs. The reef was beautiful and we saw many creatures, including Barracuda, and many small fishes. We also discovered a small Nurse Shark hiding on the sandy bottom beneath a coral ledge.


For our next dive we returned to The Tugboat, one of the most scenic wrecks in the area. After lunch, we headed back to Tintamarre to a dive site called Chico, which is adjacent to Japanese Reef. On this dive we saw a trio of spotted creatures: a majestic Spotted Eagle Ray, a Spotted Moray Eel and an adult Spotted Drum. As we prepared to ascend we were greeted by a Turtle.



For our final dive, we returned towards Grand Case and dove the Creole Rock site starting on the seaward side. We swam through a large expanse of gorgonians before reaching the reef surrounding Creole Rock. After seeing a gorgeous Queen Triggerfish, we then headed home to prepare for an evening with our friends.