Yesterday we went snorkeling on Pinel, an uninhabited stretch of of rock and dune grass about 1000 meters from Saint Martin. It is on the French side, which is why I spelled it Saint Martin (as opposed to Sint Maarten as they do on the Dutch side where we live). Saint Martin/Sint Maarten itself is quite small, and almost overpopulated with its 60,000 inhabitants plus the holiday crowd down here now. So we took a tub of a boat over to another rock for some good snorkeling.
I have done a little snorkeling since we arrived on Saint Maarten, and I love how you can just float on your stomach and watch everything. The grasses waved as if in a breeze and I had seen a few fish. That was enough for me: apply lots of sunscreen to back, lean in, breathe through tube, paddle about. But snorkeling around Pinel was like being in a whole different ocean. It was beautiful, and we lucked out with great visibility. I could see 15-20 feet around me. I was very excited to see the first fish. Then there were three fish. Then I realized I was surrounded by fish on all sides. There were little striped guys, and thin silver ones by the surface, and some glowing electric blue ones. They were unfazed by the big creatures with gangly limbs in their midst. Soon I was seeing tiny schools of fish as well as bottom feeders.
An eco tourist company took over what had been a overpopulated reef, and we rented special snorkels from them. The Snorkels had radios!! You bite down on the mouthpiece, and the sound travels up your teeth and jaw to your ears. The sound was crystal clear. An antenna runs up the tube to get the radio signal. They can even tune them into normal FM radio stations, but they put us on the tour. To the accompaniment of Caribbean music and descriptions of fish and coral in the area, we were off. I was too distracted to pay attention to the recording telling me the fish names, but all the same it was pretty neat.
Everything moved so slowly and gracefully, except probably for me using flippers for the first time. With the music in your ears and so much to see it was like being in a different world. Then we were lucky enough to see a spotted eagle stingray. Once the internet man arrives, bearing civilization on his truck, I will share photos too. As it is, my connection isn’t good enough to upload….**
**Connection fixed and I added photos–underwater ones not of my own taking