Two weeks ago, I posted about a dive at the Blue Heron Bridge where I watched a female box crab molt while in the grasp of a male. Ned had good luck too. Bumblebee shrimp are known to feed on the tube feet of echinoderms, so we usually see them on or under urchins and sea cucumbers. He had stopped to watch an octopus feeding on a gastropod whose shell was too large to fit into the den. Imagine his delight when several of the tiny, striped shrimp bimbled across the front of the octopus.
Even though the Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Florida is only a three and a half hour drive from our home, we don’t have a chance to make the trip more than once or twice a year. But when we do, we are never disappointed and over the years, have had some amazing dives there. Although there are areas around the bridge that can be dived any time, the areas directly under the bridge spans are only manageable during slack tide, so a little planning is required. Last month, we managed to squeeze in a quick, two-day trip.
We’ve started work on updating the Reef Fish Behavior book, so spawning Bluelip Parrotfish, Cryptotomus roseus, was exciting. The males are normally pretty anyway, but during courting and spawning they get even flashier.
The Blue Heron Bridge is one of the few places we’ve dived where Trunkfish, Lactophrys trigonus (formerly known by the common name, Buffalo Trunkfish), can regularly be found. The black juvenile is more commonly seen, but we were delighted when our friend Deb Devers showed us a tiny, bright green one.
My video lights can be pretty annoying at night, attracting all kinds of worms and other assorted plankton that can totally screw up my video. One advantage though, is among the worms and isopods and occasional settling fish, we see some pretty cool settling crustaceans.
I think the second is a settling lobster, but I’m not certain. The second is a stomatopod larva (thanks to Dr. Peter Wirtz for the confirmation).
We close with a nudibranch, Dondice occidentalis, identified for us by nudi expert, Anne Dupont, who noted that there are two color forms found at the bridge, one of which is this “sparkly” one: