Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inside the Secret Reef

Divers in the Secret Reef have noticed quite a few active sergeant major nests lately. In some locations, the nests appear like bluegill beds. The fish choose a location on the bottom to deposit their eggs and then aggressively protect their nests. Sometimes they nip at the divers to defend their territory. The egg masses can be stuck to the sides of the reef, looking like tiny patches of light purple bubbles on the rocks. The parents always let you know when you are getting too close. Even if you don't spot the nesting site, a sudden tap on the back of the head or nip on the hands lets you know you're not wanted there.

Before entering the exhibit, divers have to watch their feet. You never know when a stingray will be resting on the platform. Rays blend in a bit with the background making it possible to accidentally step on one. Usually they take off whenever someone approaches, but last night a ray decided to stay put until everyone was in the water. Then as all of the divers began descending into the Secret Reef, the ray began gliding downward with them before "flying" gracefully away.

This video gives you a taste of what it's like to hang out inside the Secret Reef. It's always bustling with activity and fun to observe.

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