The rain stopped for a few hours yesterday and the sun actually came out and that was our signal to get into the water and explore a reef known as "the coral garden." It was a shallow, long reef area filled with a field of stag horn coral – the largest stand we've seen for a long time. There was also lots of other corals and an incredible variety of wonderful fish. As we've explored new islands and countries, we always see new varieties of fish. The water was a bit chilly but very clear.
For our marine scientists, the variety would keep you in the water for hours! They included many new types for us as well as some old favorites. Our finds for the day included pipefish, filefish, triggerfish, bannerfish and a giant trumpetfish. Buried in the midst of the stag horn coral , we saw several pipefish – we think they were Messmate Pipefish (Corythoichthys intestinalis) – which are kind of like stretched out sea horses. The other real find was a pair of the Longnose Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris) that were incredibly colorful spotted little fish. Always in pairs were some Pennant Bannerfish (Heniochus chrysostomus) which are very shy; many variations from the butterfly fish family – so many that it's hard to keep track; Surgeonfish of various colors and designs including the colorfully Striped Surgeonfish (Acanthurus lineatus); curious, but protective damselfish; colorful clown/anemonefish – a darker variety with a bright white stripe that live in the anemones; wrasses of every color and color combination; interesting Sandperch and Lizardfish that stand on their fins on the sandy bottoms; and so many more. It was a wonderful water day and so glad we explored.
We wanted to go to the school on Lape Island to visit it – and bring some school supplies, but the school was closed for a meeting of teachers in Neiafu. Some things are the same everywhere! We remain on the mooring on Lape and may attend the local feast there on Saturday night. We haven't done the "Tongan feast" yet where they roast a pig in the ground in what is known as an umu. It will depend a bit on weather.
We are enjoying it here – it is nice to be away from town and enjoying the beauty of the Vava'u islands.