One of our best days of snorkeling.  We went with Cathy and Fred on Makaiover to Fowl Cay Reef near Man O’ War. We anchored to the southwest of Fowl Reef and took our dinghies around the other side to the national park mooring balls.

The first dive was beyond expectations for coral. The water here is such a beautiful shade of blue, and once you look below, you are just blown away by the coral. The underwater is transformed into an explosion of colors.  Shiny golds lay like a blanket at the top of the reefs, lush purple fans wave in the current, bright yellow from damsel and triggerfish and brilliant blues from the surgeonfish can keep you enthralled for hours. It’s a pretty easy snorkel as Tessa had no trouble keeping up.

The snorkeling at the second set of mooring balls was not as nice.  The water was colder and while there were remains of some kind of wreck, the coral was not nearly as colorful. Tessa did just a short snorkel that time as the current was pretty strong.  As I was helping her into the dingy I glanced up at the sky. Way off in the distance I could see rain bands coming down and off to one side I noticed the start of a waterspout. It was pretty well formed, with a big funnel at the top, spiraling down into a tight tail. It stopped about halfway to the water and then went back up. It came down again and broke into two distinct tails then retreated.  It tried one more time to reach the water and almost did before it gave up and became a harmless cloud again.  It was incredible to watch.

After this we got back into the dinghy and headed a little further out. The water was getting colder each time. Tessa opted to stay in the dingy and warm up.  A very short swim from our boat, Dan got our attention and pointed to a small southern stingray skimming the along the bottom below us. I love to watch rays in the water. They are the most graceful creatures. We watched him pass behind us then we turned to head out into deeper water. We hadn’t gotten much farther when I spotted a grayish brown shapeweaving in and out of the coral. SHARK! I grabbed Tristan who was next to me, yelled shark and pointed excitedly.   Tristan got Dan’s attention. The thought neveroccurred to me that I would ever be in the water with a shark, but here was a nurse shark about 4 feet long swimming less than 20 feet from us.

This was our fourth encounter with sharks in the Bahamas. Tristan later said he was scared at first but then realized how cool it was. I never felt scared,  just amazed that I was seeing a shark. Now if I had known a shark was in the water before I got in, I’m sure I would have thought twice, but being in the water and seeing how truly beautiful the shark was, I was in awe and incredibly thankful for the experience.

The shark would disappear for a bit and I would quickly turn around to look behind me, making sure he was not sneaking up on us like barracudas like to do. A few seconds later he would emerge and we followed along. Soon the shark got tired of us and left. We snorkeled some more, then agreed you really couldn’t top seeing a
shark so we headed for the dinghy. As we were about to get in, Tristan got a surprise.  About 6 feet from our dingy was a huge barracuda. We saw three smaller ones earlier but this one was at least 3 ½ to 4 feet. He scared me much more than the shark. He was just hangingout there, looking at us, mouth open, showing us his big teeth. To me that is the scariest thing about barracudas: they just lurk in the background and show up when you least expect it.  I really wanted a picture of him but I had no more battery power left in my camera.  I told Tessa she needed to get in the water and see it.  No way she said.  I told her she would really regret it if shedidn’t get to see it, so she bravely donned her mask and jumped in.  She went underwater and came up sputtering “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” and shot into the dingy.  It was funny. I told her later she was verybrave to do that.  It’s one thing to be in the water and see a big barracuda but another thing to jump in when you know one is there.

We stopped at one more spot, but it couldn’t compare to what we had already seen. We headed back and closed the evening by eating Chinese takeout on Makai.