Of turtles and rays
23 March 2023 | Egg Island and Sandy Cay
Susan DeSimone | Sunny and warm...again!
We spent Wed and Thursday nights anchored at Egg Island at the northwest edge of Eleuthera which was our jumping off place for a longer sail to the Abacos on Friday. Wednesday night we were anchored with 3 other boats, one of the least crowded anchorages we have experienced on the trip, by Thursday night there were 14 boats there, including several boats that we have gotten to know along the trip.
We arrived near low tide on Wednesday, launched the dinghy and headed to shore to explore. There was a nice little beach where I found a sand dollar, but no real trails to speak of to explore the uninhabited island. However, the beach was next to the creek entrance to a salt pond, and this was very walkable and wadable. It was great fun to poke up the creek and explore the pools, I even found a living sea biscuit sand dollar as we walked up the creek! I had no idea that they were sea urchins and that the star pattern is barely visible on the living animal (picture in the Egg Island gallery).
The next morning, we took our dinghy up the creek at high tide, through a combination of outboard engine, rowing and a not so nice run in with a piece of pipe stuck on the creek. Once into the pond, we motored to the far end and then drifted back down as the current was ebbing. We saw so many turtles we stopped counting (or a few very active ones?!) Some had their head poking up and we saw others below the water since the water in the pond was very clear as is most of the water throughout the Bahamas. What most amazed us is just how fast they can accelerate and swim, they go from perfectly still to out of site in no time. Along the drift I also saw an 8-10 in bright red star fish that was quite beautiful (picture in the gallery).
After lunchtime we went for a snorkel around Pathfinder. We had dropped anchor in a large patch of sand and then the boat drifted back over coral (no worries, no chain was in the coral). There were lots of fish and some coral, but the best part was an ~ 2.5 foot long turtle feeding on the coral under the boat. We got to watch it feed for quite a while and see the details of it’s shell, flippers and head. I only wish I had an underwater camera (next time I leave the lake on a boat I will!).
Our next turtle encounter was truly up close and personal. We were diving on the reef at Sandy Cay in the Abacos which is part of the Pelican Land and Sea park. No sooner had we attached the dinghy to the mooring ball as there was a turtle looking for attention or more likely food. This one was about 2 feet long and stuck with us for most of the time that we snorkeled the reef. At one point, Roger was nose to nose with it, stroking its flippers. At another point it startled the heck out of me when I turned around and it was in my face!
This reef had lots of coral in mixed health, a huge patch of staghorn coral, lots of coral that looked like bright green wood mushrooms, and lots of purple fans. We saw parrot fish, queen trigger fish and puffer fishes among others. But the absolute best part of this snorkel was the spotted eagle rays. At the entry to the snorkel we saw a single ray and followed it for a bit. Then about midway through, we were swimming along above 5 rays that ranged from about 2.5 to 5 feet in wing span. The way they move through the water is both graceful and stunningly beautiful. They were very different from the rays we saw in Georgetown in that these rays had heads that look almost like a bottle nosed dolphin stuck onto the front of a ray and their tails were longer than their bodies!
I had been missing exciting snorkeling since we left the Exumas and these two days were just such a treat! We’re looking forward to the rest of the Abacos as there is lots of coral and it is relatively protected for snorkeling, who knows maybe we will get to snorkel with a shark before we are done (hopefully just a nurse shark though!).