Friday, 15 January 2016

Goodness gracious, GREAT balls of fish!

"A bait ball occurs when small fish swarm in a tightly packed spherical formation about a common centre. 

It is a last-ditch defensive measure adopted by small schooling fish when they are threatened by predators."

Schooling fish are always pretty cool to see on a dive.

But when hundreds or thousands of fish join together to form a giant bait ball, it's an incredibly cool and amazing thing to see on a dive.

The sheer number of eyes, the flashing of light reflected from the fishes scales, seemingly random and super-fast changes of direction: all these combine specifically to distract and confuse larger, hungry, predator fish - and amaze and delight divers.

And we've been amazed and delighted a lot these last couple of months by this:

How come...?

Here in Curacao, there's an abundance of "fish food" floating around in the ocean from August-ish to October-ish, as a result of the coral, sponge and algae spawning. Not surprisingly, this coincides with an abundance of fish. (Ain't Mama Nature clever?) 

We're lucky to see 'gangs' of blue tangs and creole wrasse cruising the top of the reefs pretty much all year round. But from October-ish through December-ish, there's almost always a large, resident bait ball of Big Eye Scad on the Dive Bus house reef, Pierbaai and over Car Pile. And this year's has been the largest we can recall. Ever.

The baitball hangs out until December-ish which is usually when the local fishermen drop their nets into the water and make their money for the Christmas holidays and New Years celebrations. They sell kilos and kilos of freshly caught and cleaned "masbangu" to never-ending lines of excited, eager cooks. 

And the 'cleaned' parts of the fish are thrown back into the ocean to feed the ones that got away. 

This time.

(The baitball in the video is still here as we write this - guess the fisherman were on vacation this year...)
According to The SeaChoice Program, Big Eye Scad are a sustainable fish that you can enjoy without depleting natural resources.

Here for more info for our Canadian fish-lovin' buddies.

#baitball #divecuracao #coralspawning #thedivebus #scuba #dive #curacao