St. Martin, Winter 2008

Go here to see all the photos from this expedition.

Here’s a small showcase of the sea life we documented during our E.S.S. missions on Pinel Island, off the coast of St. Martin January-February 2008.  All photographs were taken while snorkeling in extremely shallow water. 

On the far (east) side of Pinel:

Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus)

This little butterflyfish was flitting about in shin-deep water.  We believe that to be a Variable Brown Sponge (Anthosignella varians) in the background.



Goldspotted Eel (Myrichthys ocellatus)

We were really lucky to photograph this specimen, not just because they’re rare in the Caribbean, but also because they usually hide in the daytime. This one swam out of the patch of turtle grass where it had been lurking.  We were able to distinguish it from its equally spotted relative, the sharptail eel, due to the consistent size, bright gold yellow color, and characteristic fuzzy dark borders of the spots.


We believe this to be a Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus).


Sea Grape Alga (Caulerpa racemosa)

These common Caribbean algae flourish in shallow (and, as we observed, extremely shallow) rocky areas with some water movement or tidal surge.  



On the near (west) side of Pinel:

Spotted Sea Hare (Aplysia dactylomela)

This mollusk was trolling for algae in the right place: the richly algae-abundant rocky shallows of Pinel’s protected west side.  It was approximately 3 inches long.


Here are some algae we documented nearby, in 6-12 inches of water:

Bristle Ball Brush (Penicillus dumetosus)


Cactus Tree Alga (Caulerpa cupressoides)


Tubular Thicket Alga (Galaxaura sp.)


Wrasse of some sort – or a juvenile parrotfish.


Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panuliris argus)

We encountered this crustacean at low tide, peering from a crevice in shin-deep water.  These are the most extremely shallow natural conditions in which we’ve observed this type of lobster to date.


Photos from St. Martin:

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