Snorkeling at Baie Longue

Last week we had the privilege of joining some friends on their boat for the day, including a snorkel at Baie Longue near the end of the beach by Cupecoy. The sea floor in the area is predominantly sandy, with few rocks to provide a substrate for corals or a habitat for fish, but the water is often crystal clear. As you can see below, there was a large school of palometa which settled in beneath the boat as soon as we dropped anchor.

Although it’s fun to see a large school of fish, they are almost certainly there because they are fed, probably by boats who stop there to let their passengers snorkel. This is, of course, generally seen as a bad idea because it changes the behavior of the fish. In some cases, for example, fish may eat less of their normal food, thereby failing to fulfill their role in the local ecosystem. It also makes them more vulnerable to fishing, which for the palometa may be bad for those who eat them. Palometa that normally travel between the open ocean and the shallows may be more likely to develop higher levels of ciguatera toxin if they learn to stay in the shallows.

Anyhow, the snorkel was quite fun, and I was also able to find a peacock flounder and many juvenile grunts near a small patch of rock, as well as a young southern stingray.

One Response to “Snorkeling at Baie Longue”

  1. Fabi Fliervoet Says:

    You are right. When I was working on those tour sailboats for the cruise tourists we would feed the fish so that the tourists could snorkel around the boat. They absolutely loved it. I knew about the changing behaviour aspect of the palometa but never heard of the fish actually developing higher levels of toxin. Interesting!

    By the way, just found this website and it looks awesome, I’m going to have a good look at it, brings back many good memories when I used to snorkel around the whole island myself.