Exploring the Mangrove

Today we undertook one of the most exciting explorations I’ve ever done. With a rental car, we headed to the southern end of Baie de l’Embouchure where an inlet connects Étang aux Poissons with the ocean. This is where I noticed yesterday that there are mangroves at the very edge of the sea. You may see the photo and think that a single small clump of trees seems inconsequential, but it is the only mangrove I have found thus far that doesn’t stand in contaminated, unswimmable waters.

We entered the water in the bay and swam to the outermost mangrove. The floor was a mix of shallow sea grasses and deeper (but still only perhaps 5 feet deep) sandy channels. There were scores of small fishes schooling and numerous young barracuda. As we approached the mangrove, we began to see checkered puffers (Spphoeroides testudineus) alone or in small groups.

From the well-lit shallows, it was a sudden transition at the edge of the mangroves. Fishes swam amongst the mangrove roots and young lobsters clustered in great numbers. There were also clusters of anemones, which may prove difficult to identify.

Though it could often be said, the photos truly do no this locale no justice. In the nearby area, we saw several very speedy crabs and a small fish that rests vertically, but turns on its side to swim. Perhaps it likes to keep one eye on the lookout for predators from above.

After exploring the mangroves, we swam through the bay and out to a small island that was separated from the shore by very shallow water. In just a few hundred yards, we had traversed several types of sea grass beds, sandy banks, stony shoals and mangroves. Truly an extraordinary site for Extreme Shallow Snorkeling that deserves more attention!

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