Booby Island has grabbed a spot right in the middle of the channel between St. Kitts and Nevis and this shallow area makes a good second dive or a night dive. It was as a night dive that we visited the site.
The terrain is quite flat with old coral heads approximately 3 to 5 feet high, forming overhangs and some holes right through the rock. None of the holes are large enough to swim through and generally the structures are small.
Click on image for larger map
Ellis, our dive leader, gives us a thorough briefing as we wait for the sun to slither down below the mountains of St. Kitts. We see a turtle pop to the surface, obviously wondering what is keeping us.
Although Ellis describes the dive route, we have the luxury of following his light and can concentrate on the marine life without fear of getting lost.
Below us is a flat area of sand with what appears to be coral ridges. Close up we can see that we are looking at old coral newly encrusted with sponges, hard and soft coral. The soft limestone base has been eroded so that it is undercut and has many nooks and crannies. But we do not have to do a lot of searching before we start tripping over turtles, jumbo-sized porcupinefish, and scurrying lobsters.
On top of a ledge, the movement of three slipper lobsters catches our attention. We hover above them and witness their lemming-like leaps from the top of the ledge to the sand below. One after another they reach the cliff edge and launch themselves off, landing in a surprisingly orderly fashion.
Our first turtle is an adolescent and seems torn between curiosity and caution. Later on in the dive, we find grandfather-sized turtles covered in barnacles and they can hardly be bothered to lift their heads to look at us, despite the excited bubbling of half a dozen divers. One large hawksbill is tucked under a ledge in what appears to be its private hotel room. We lose count of how many we see and start to look at the other marine life.
Spiny and slipper lobsters are abundant and oblivious to our lights. We try not to disturb sleeping parrotfish and other diurnals tucked into holes in the reef. Under the ledges night-time feeders such as orange ball corallimorphs wave their exotic tentacles.
With our lights we can see that this is a colourful reef. There is a mass of green finger sponges and bright red erect rope sponges. Barrel sponges seem ominous when caught in the beam of our lights. Encrusting the coral is red sieve sponge.
In the sand are tall sea plumes, taller than the reef. On top of the reef is a field of sea fans providing good pasture for flamingo tongues with their giraffe livery on display.
It is time to ascend as yet one more turtle paddles by, as if to ensure we will have enough to talk about back on the boat.
Thanks to Ellis and his crew at Scuba Safaris.