Deadman’s Reef, Grand Bahama

October 9, 2012 at 4:15 am | Posted in For the Family, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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Located on the West End of Grand Bahama Island is one of my favorite snorkeling locations I’ve ever been to.  Weather you’re staying at a resort on the island or just at port for the day on your cruise ship, it’s easy to make arrangements to visit this reef in Paradise Cove.  What is great about this reef is that you have the ability to do as much or as little as you like.  It’s an easy swim off shore, you don’t have to take a boat to access it, just a buddy.  You’re allowed to stay out as long as you like and you can stick to the shallow inside of the rock formations if you prefer or head around the back side where the water is deeper and the inhabitants are larger.  There is also a concession stand on the beach for when you’re ready to snack, the cherry on top of this perfect location that really does allow you to hang out all day.

The inside of the reef is mainly sea grass beds and smaller corals.  The water is shallow enough to stand in, but watch your feet, you never know what you may be stepping down on and damaging, so it’s best you keep your feet up.  Amongst the grass, we found all kinds of cool inverts like Starfish, Sea Biscuits, Hermit Crabs, and Tulips.  There are also a lot of little fish seeking protection in the safety of the shallow water seperated by the deep by a wall of reef.

Something I found fascinating in the shallows attached to many of the rocks and even making homes within corals themselves was a variety of feather duster worms.  These aren’t your typical slimey worms, their beautiful “feathers” sway in the water and are used to filter feed the animal.  When is if frightened or harassed or if it catches food, they quickly retreat into their tube.

One thing that there is plenty of on both sides of the reef is beautiful corals.  Brains, Staghorns, Sea Fans, you mane it, they’ve got it.  The corals are very sensitive and delicate, you should swim around them with enough distance so that you don’t ever touch them or bump into them.  It’s easy to hurt them so please be mindful.

More than anything else, Deadman’s Reef has fish!  They’re everywhere!  Beautifuly and boldly colored, super tiny to as big as you are, you’ll find a wonderful variety here.  The reef is home to Parrot Fish, Tangs, Surgeonfish, Wrasses, Damsels, Snapper, Grunt, Butterfly Fish, and so many more than I could ever name.  There are also the occasional sharks swimming through looking for dinner, which usually does NOT include human being, so don’t panic.  This reef has also become home to the invasive and environmentaly harmful Lion Fish, so if you happen to see one you’re asked to please report it so that it may be removed.

There are a lot of really cool inhabitants that call Deadman’s Reef home as well.  A lot of times Sea Turtles, like the young Loggerhead pictured above, can be seen in the grass beds snacking on sea grass.  Thanks to the many tourists, they are typically not terribly shy and will hang out for a while to let you gawk at them.

As we headed around the back side of the reef we came across a lot of really great animals.  I can’t even begin to tell you my excitement in spotting a Hawksbill Sea Turtle.  This isn’t something I ever see in my hometown snorkel trips, so this was a special treat for us.  They’re much less common and usually quite shy.  This guy was resting in the rocks when we happened upon him.

Just as we were admiring the Hawksbill, this Stingray caught out eye cruising by.  Stingrays are another common resident of the reef that are pretty exciting for snorkelers of all ages to see.  Following this guy as he was on the move helped us stumble upon my absolute favorite part of this trip, creatures whos presense will live with me forever…

This pair of Spotted Eagle Rays was by far one of the coolest sights I’ve ever seen in the ocean.  They were massive!  Eagle Rays can get up to 16 feet long, and while this pair wasn’t quite full grown, they were still an impressive sight.  They were both gliding along the bottom of the ocean floor and filter feeding with their mouths wide open.  I could have watched them all day!

Photos taken with my Fugifilm Finepix UW

IF YOU GO:

Deadman’s Reef is makes for a great trip.  Like I said before, it’s easy to do weather you’re on a cruise or staying on the island.  Plan to stay for at least half the day so you can see everything.  There is a concession stand with drinks, snacks, and lunch foods like burgers and hot dogs.  You can snorkel, have lunch, rest on the beach, and snorkel again.  It’s paradise, take your time and enjoy this beautiful piece of the island.

While you are allowed to snorke for as long as you wish, remember that you must have at least one swim buddy with you at all times.  This is for your own safety.  You will be provided with a flotation device so you don’t have to worry about sinking from exhaustion, and there are also buoy’s in areas of the reef to hang onto and rest if you need.

Don’t forget, if you see one of those pesky Lionfish, be sure to report it.  And most importantly, don’t touch anything!  Let’s make sure this reef is still beautiful for our children to see.

Enjoy!

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