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April 2019 Cocos Expedition: The Checkout Dive

Turtle Island Restoration Network just returned from our April 2019 Cocos Island Dive Expedition. This is part two of a series highlighting the trip, as reported by Executive Director and Trip Leader Todd Steiner. Part one is available here. Our next expedition is June 2019. Please join us!

Now at Cocos, the seas and weather remain amazingly calm and warm! Our checkout dive in Chatham Bay produces a wealth of this year’s newly born fish with tiny creole fish (Paranthias furcifer), which are called “sandia,” or watermelon in Spanish because of their red hue and black spots, and juvenile blue-and-gold snappers (Lutjanus viridis) in abundant schools.  

Creole fish (Paranthias furcifer)and juvenile blue-and-gold snappers (Lutjanus viridis).

Finespot moray eels (Gymnothorax moringa), speckled yellow, hide in the coral but are abundant once you get the search pattern down.  A Tiger Reef Eel (Scuticaria tigrina) is also spotted by our fish recorder Mark Stabb.

Fish Recorder Mark Stabb.

Lying on the sandy bottom in large numbers are Whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus), and garden eels (Heteroconger hassi) poke out of the sand and wave in the current like a field of grass, disappearing vertically into their burrow when disturbed.  Two other unique elongated fish are observed: the cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii) and trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus). Some of us are lucky enough to see a marbled ray (Torpedo marmorata), the first of what would turn out to be hundreds throughout the week.

Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)

Cocos Island is home to at least 27 endemic fish species including the exotic rosy-lipped batfish, In total, Mark records 28 species on this first dive. To view Mark’s complete list of fish species observed at Cocos Island, click hereWith our gear adjusted, now the shark diving begins!  Stay tuned…

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)

Blue-and-gold snappers (Lutjanus viridis)

Mexican Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)

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To learn more about our dive expeditions, please click here.

Next: The Hammerheads

Previous: The Crossing