Tobago Cays

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July 19, 2002

1600 - 1700

Inner edge, Horseshoe reef, Tobago Cays


Shallow coral-growing sand and rock

    In about four or five feet of water, the rocks and coral, grown to about two feet from the surface, are a little shallow to snorkel over. Sand quickly gives way to large coral heads, and then fields of coral with sand channels running through them. The water is very clear, and you don't really need to dive to see close detail.

    I think the inner area would be frown into a true reef if it were deeper and the outer reef didn't shield it from the open ocean. Also, the current is frequently strong, so some careless snorkelers put flippers on coral heads and stand up, giving themselves a breather, and damaging the reef.


Adaptations -

 - Orange spotted filefish - usually brown with orange of yellow spots near tail, but they can change color to solid brown, dark or light, for camouflage.

 - Pipefish - Long and brown, these fish hang out around moorings or thin and feathery soft coral, imitating ropes or coral (or sponges).


Dominant species -

 - Stoplight parrotfish (initial, juvenile)

 - Rainbow parrotfish

 - Yellowtail damselfish (inter. juvenile)

Other identified species -

 - Queen parrotfish (initial)

 - Bar jack

 - Houndfish

 - Orange spotted filefish

 - Pipefish

July 20, 2002

1000 - 1130

Outer edge, Horseshoe reef, Tobago Cays


Tropical semi-mature coral reef

    The outer side of the reef is accessible only from the outside, or a dinghy pass through the coral. When you get out of the dinghy pass, and past the breakers, the reef drops off, fairly quickly, in a steep slope to a sandy bottom. The slope and waters around it are an aquarium of fish, who school in hundreds at a time, sometimes.

    The reef here is mostly open to the open ocean, except for the smaller World's End Reef, further out. But water easily gets around it, and the reef here is straight in the way of billions of drifting coral polyps.


Adaptations -

 - Pipefish - same adaptation as in "inner reef"


Dominant species -

 - Brown chromis

 - Sergeant major

 - Yellowtail damselfish

 - Bluehead

 - Creole wrasse

Other identified species -

 - Yellowtail parrotfish

 - Bar jack

 - Pipefish



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