It is easy for divers to get caught up in the numbers game of spotting and remembering fish species as they explore the BVI’s diverse underwater environments, but there are a host of other lives down there – especially invertebrates – just as worthy of attention. From the tiny, brightly colored Christmas tree worms, to the large and elusive slipper lobster, there is much to appreciate that doesn’t boast a backbone! Whether your Cuan Law diving adventure takes you to the shallows of Coral Gardens or the atmospheric depths of the Wreck of the Rhone, there are myriad life forms to discover in the vibrant reefs of the BVI.
Do you like shells? Well don’t be fooled by the Flamingo Tongue Cowry as it sits on its favorite perch- a gently swaying purplish-blue fan coral. This snail, with its stunning, almost giraffe-like patterning of creams and browns, is actually playing tricks. Deceptively, the pattern is not part of the shell at all, but rather its foot (which covers the shell)! We don’t recommend disturbing anything on a reef, but should you dislodge the cowry from its resting spot then wait a minute or so as the little critter ponders its next move, the pattern will creep back into the shell, revealing a plain pinkish creamy shell surface.
Check out the sponges! Large and aptly named Barrel Sponges are easy to spot on BVI diving trips, but there are numerous others including some more reminiscent of a science project gone wrong – think green slime! Then there’s the coral. Many of the most striking examples are named for the hard, calcified external features resembling elk or stag horns, yet the BVI reefs are home to a spectacular diversity of other coral species. Look more closely – especially on a night dive, or if you’re able to find a gloomy rock overhang – as it’s under these conditions that the living coral polyps peep out from their hard protective homes. The tiny feathery tentacles’ colorations range from brilliant yellows, golds and oranges on cup-coral, to purples and iridescent blues and greens on some of their cousins.
Are anemones your thing? Or perhaps you like worms and nudibranchs? Go slowly and seek out all the crevices and you’ll be sure to turn up examples of all of them. The large and not exactly handsome Donkey-dung Sea Cucumber will be one of the easiest to find as he traverses the sandy floor, but even that less than beautiful worm offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of the reef. He lives a pure recycling life, with sand going in one end and coming out the other, with a little gentle cleaning happening in between.
And then there are this writer’s favorites – the Reef Squid. Definitely not the behemoths of legend; nevertheless these guys are smart. At around one foot or so in length (and very tasty), they are usually secretive. I have been lucky enough to see what can only be described as school outings à la “Finding Nemo”, twice! The first was whilst snorkeling at Little Harbour, Peter Island, when what looked like Mama and Papa stood guard at either end of a line of more than 70 squid of all sizes. They were on a mission, and stayed in formation as they moved at a reasonable pace across the shallow natural sandy harbor. The second was at Sandy Spit off Jost van Dyke, and again Mom and Pop looked to be in charge. While not as numerous as the school in the previous encounter, they were all close to adult size and seemed less skittish. I tried to “talk” squid, moving my fingers together to resemble their outstretched arms. They did allow me to stay with them for quite some time, so I guess they at least tolerated the human, even if they could not comprehend what it was trying to communicate!
Book your BVI diving adventure on the luxury liveaboard the Cuan Law. Experience the vibrant marine environments of the Caribbean, exploring the numerous shallow reefs, open water dive sites and murky wrecks of the BVI.
By Duncan Muirhead
From the minute we boarded – the most accommodating “family” welcomed our group!
EVERY island, wish, ask, want was happily achieved. My first trip to BVI’s was wonderful, this trip was AMAZING. So happy to have had an amazing time, the snorkeling was fantastic – finally made it to the Baths and Willie T’s – dreams do come true! Did not want to leave the boat and new friends behind! THANK YOU Capt. Scott and crew!
The Cuan Law is a PERFECT TEN for diving/family vacation. This was our family’s 8th time on the Cuan Law. It continues to be our favorite vacation because the diving is incredible, the crew is outstanding, and the food can not be beat. The crew makes the trip so special. The crew makes it a special vacation whether you dive or not. We have taken people from 22 months old to 78 years old. There is lots for everyone to do.
Plenty of dives if your family is into diving, but also fun water sports (tubing, water-skies, sailing, snorkeling, beach ventures, etc.) for others. Best trip EVER! They have hammocks for relaxing, mats for laying out and tanning, crew that will make you any drink you ask for, and overall a comfortable environment for a relaxing vacation. They are completely so flexible so they allow you significant input into the schedule for the week including where you moor and where you dive. THE best service money can buy! DON’T MISS OUT – BOOK IT !!
My wife and I first sailed and dove on the Cuan Law 28 years ago. We had a great time, and returned for a second trip a decade later. Again, we had a wonderful week. Now that our sons are in their 20s, and seasoned SCUBA divers, we decided to share the experience with them, and we could not be happier with our decision.
We all had a superb week. Everything about a trip on the Cuan Law is just “right.” For starter, the crew is amazing. From the moment you board the Cuan Law, you have no choice but to relax. The first thing that happens is your shoes come off, and go into a storage container for the duration of the trip. (You don’t need them onboard, and it actually was a bit depressing to put them on when it was time to end our trip.) The crew members are attentive without feeling intrusive. You want a dive guide? Great, you have a dive guide. You want to go on your own with your dive buddy? That works too.They are constantly working to keep the ship, and your stateroom, clean and organized, but never seem to be underfoot.
If you want or need anything, and there is a way to get it, they will make it happen. And the food is Amazing. Patrick is a magician. Every meal had the look, taste and presentation of a top Michelin starred restaurant. The diving is typical Caribbean Diving. Generally good visibility, with low to moderate currents. Not too deep. And if the weather allows, there are several world class wreck that the Cuan Law will visit. We were able to dive the Rhone and Chikuzen, both outstanding dive sites. When you are not diving, there are water toys available. Hobie cats, sea kayaks, paddleboards, water skis, and more. You can be as busy as you want, or you can flop down in a hammock on the huge deck, and read a book. (My choice, while the boys were out getting dragged across the water on kneeboards.)
Overall, we could not have been more pleased with our time on the Cuan Law. She is a great vessel for people who want to dive, but also want to do other things on their trip, and she is crewed by an outstanding team that goes out of their way to insure you have a great time. We can’t wait to return.