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Snorkeling in Salp Soup

Updated: Mar 14

Snorkeling was today's adventure. Bill, Glen, and I hired and outside vendor to meet us at the Guana Island dock and take us to the Indians, a group of rocky outcrops not too far from Pelican and Norman Islands. (Image: Bill helping to tie up the boat.)

This boat was fast and small enough to fit under the bridge between Beef and Tortola Islands, thus allowing us to shortcut to The Indians. It has four huge engines. The seats were padded with options to sit or to stand against the padding. When the speed picked up, the ride was quite comfortable, unlike other power boats I've been in. (Image: Glen enjoying the speed of four engines.)

We had hoped to get to The Indians before the other tour operators, but we arrived in time to get the last mooring. The mooring was a bit of a swim to the snorkel spot. Our spot was to the left and a bit back from the rock on the left. The plan was to swim behind that rock and then pass between that rock and the second from the left. There is a deep channel with walls of coral. all the way from the second rock on the left to the farthest rock on the right. After that channel, we were to come back and explore the other side, which has a completely different topography.

As soon as I started passing between the two rocks toward the deep channel, I started to encounter bits of green, perhaps algae or small bits of seaweed. I couldn't tell. As soon as I got into the deep channel, I was surrounded by clear strings of unknown matter. Then I noticed some small jelly fish and a few other clear small things. The channel was also full of schools of fish and the walls had coral and other sea plants. As I swam through this mass of living things, I started to feel a few stings here and there, so I started to use my hands to push the strings of unknown stuff away. Salps don't sting but tiny jellyfish do. I wish I had the nerve to look at the jellyfish closer, but ouch!

After exploring the channel, I swam to the other side and enjoyed clear water and many large fish eating coral. It turned out the unknown matter consisted of salps. (Image: Salps off Porthcurno, Cornwall. image by Heather Hamilton, Cornwall Underwater Wildlife Trust.)

Salps can occur wherever there is an algae bloom. They essentially clone themselves, making large chains like you see. I could feel the mass of them as I snorkeled through them. I felt as if I was a giant meatball in salp soup. Not knowing what they were at the time was creepy. I kept thinking I'd swim out of them, but they were all over the deep channel side of the rocks.

After exploring the other side, we decided to move on to a spot we heard about from a guest at Guana Island. This lesser known spot, at the end of Norman Island, turned out to be fabulous. It was a rocky area over which the ocean surged gently. Underwater there were canyons, flat areas, and volcanic rocks that housed spiny urchins. We also saw lots of tubular sponges, schools of fish, and many lone fish searching for food and munching on coral. (Image: Approaching the lesser-known snorkeling spot.)

When we had enough, our driver took us out to the open ocean to enjoy its color. Then we took a different route back, past Peter Island, and then on to Tortola, Beef, and Guana. (Image: Aerial Resort, Buck Island.)

It was a wonderful morning, but I was happy to get back to Guana where lunch and an afternoon of relaxation was waiting. (Image: White Sand Beach on Guana Island.)

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