How many Grouper IS thousands of Grouper?

Good evening everyone!

We have had so many wonderful live Internet chats this year and today was certainly no different.  We had the best time talking with Spot Bay Junior School on Cayman Brac.  You guys were fantastic!  Thank you for being such excellent and engaged students!

Naturally, one question that comes up every time is, “How many Nassau show up on the aggregation site?”  This year’s estimate is still being determined by the researchers, however, we know it is somewhere in the ballpark of 3,000-5,000 fish.  Either way, that is A LOT of fish!  A lot of BIG fish.  Having dived at the site myself, it is hard to put into words what several thousand Nassau Grouper amassed in a single location actually looks like.  That said, the following video footage from two nights ago, shot by Josh Stewart, does a pretty good job.  Take a look.

What 3,000-5,000 Nassau Grouper looks like.

Millions of Eggs and 1 Shark!!

Hello Everyone!

What an incredible day!!  It began with a big rain storm, which the island certainly needed.  It was what my dad would call, a frog strangler!  We then quickly rallied the troops and pulled together all the gear we would need for another day of diving on the aggregation site and three more Internet chats with the wonderful students on Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman.  It was a treat to get to talk with you all today.  You had the absolute best questions!!

Tonight, however, things got even more exciting.  Dr. Christy, Dr. Brice, and the rest of the team went out for the evening dive and within a just a few minutes the spawning began.  Groups of anywhere between 5 to 40 fish began spiraling up into the water column releasing giant clouds of gametes.  And while all this was happening, Dr. Brice happened to capture amazing footage of an opportunistic reef shark who tried (unsuccessfully) to grab a spawning grouper for dinner.  Check out the video clip below and pay close attention!!

It’s Spawning Time!!


It’s Spawning Time!!

It was a “Lucky” day!

Hello Friends!

It was an incredible day here on the south side of Little Cayman!  We had three wonderful internet sessions with students on both Grand and Cayman Brac.  We had a blast talking with you all and answering your questions!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

This evening I was able to go on my final dive at the aggregation site.  The scientists will continue to dive three times a day, however, I will be flying back to Cayman Brac on Thursday morning and you are not allowed to dive within 24 hours flying.  Does anyone know why??

Anyway, as I was saying, I went on my last dive with the grouper and they definitely saved the best for last.  There appeared to be an endless number of fish.  Exactly how many, I do not yet know as the scientists and researchers have not finished their count.  That said, the rough estimate is somewhere between 4,000-5,000.  That’s a lot of fish!  And at one point as I was swimming among the fish it appeared as though there was an endless stream of them!  Click on the link below to see a video of the fish filmed tonight by researcher, Josh Stewart.

(Check back for the link.  The video was still uploading as we were going to bed.  I should have it up for you all by the early morning!)–UPDATE:  This footage is coming, however, we are having an uploading issue.  It will be one more day.  I will post it on tomorrow’s blog if all goes as planned.

And finally, the most talked about part of the day was the sighting of a Nassau we named, Lucky.  Take a look at the picture below.

Lucky the Fish!

It appears that Lucky had a bite taken out of him (or her) by what we are guessing to be a reef shark.  What is so amazing is that the wound is completely healed and Lucky continues thrive.   WOW!


Thousands of Grouper!!

Hello Friends!

It was awesome to video chat with all my students back in Seattle today!  You guys are wonderful!  And I am really looking forward to having video chats with everyone on Grand and the Brac tomorrow!  Exciting! For today’s blog I am posting a couple of video clips that were shot by Verity Redrup, marine sciences teacher at Cayman Prep High School.  The first video shows a slow pan of just one section of the fish preparing to spawn here on Little Cayman.  Take a look!

Mobbed by Grouper

Thousands of Grouper!

Grouper Tagging!

Shipwrecked! USS Kittiwake!

Good Morning Friends!

Today I want to talk a bit about marine parks, which are areas in the ocean that are protected by law from fishing.  The Cayman Islands has worked hard to create a number of protected marine parks as part of their conservation efforts.   In fact, you cannot touch or take anything from these sites!  One especially cool marine park off the coast of Grand Cayman has a shipwreck on it, the USS Kittiwake. The ship was purposefully sunk a few years ago to create an artificial reef, providing new habitat for marine life.  Last year I was able to go diving IN the Kittiwake, with my good friend Elayne, who is a marine biologist from Oman.  She took some wonderful photos of our adventure.  Take a look!!

To find out more about the Kittiwake at:

Also, this is Part 2 of our series, Fish Identification 101.  Can you identify the fish in these pictures?

PS-Liam P. you were correct!  There are Yellow Snapper in the picture I posted yesterday!!  Good job!

I’m on Cayman Brac!!

Hey everyone!  I had an awesome day today!  I worked with two Year 4 classes at Cayman Prep on Grand Cayman.  Then, this afternoon, I took a twin-engine Otter (a small propeller plane) to Cayman Brac.  The plane was so cool.  It has two propellers and has seats for about 15 people.  Tomorrow I will be working with a group of Year 4 students here at Spot Bay Junior school.  Also, I am going to have my first internet chat with my students back in Seattle!  I can’t wait.

Also, we are going to start a little game I like to call, Fish Identification 101!  Yesterday I went for a short snorkel and here are some pictures I took.  Can you identify any of these fishes?

Are they having a meeting?

And this guy wouldn’t leave me alone!

Seattle-Atlanta-Grand Cayman!!

Hello Grouper Experts!!

I just wanted to write a quick post letting you know that I am on my way!  I will fly overnight from Seattle to Atlanta, GA.  Then a couple hours later I will catch another flight to Grand Cayman.  I will arrive at about noon on Monday, January 21st.  I hope you all have a great weekend and that you take advantage of your day off to be of service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!!


In the photo I am sitting next to Dr. Brice Semmens. He is holding a special face mask that allows him to talk while swimming underwater. Cool!