Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dolphin Boat Tour

As I said in my last posting, we did see many dolphins on our boat ride from the Bazos Santiago Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico.  However, they were diving up and out of the sea so rapidly there was no possibility I could get a picture of them.  Also, we may see them come up out of the water, or at least show their fins, but there was no guarantee that where we saw them last was where they were going to come out of the water again!  They may travel a distance under the water before they surface again.  Shortly after starting our trip out on the water a deck hand dropped a net into the sea with the purpose of showing us some of the creatures of the deep.  That was about as fascinating for me as watching the dolphins.  His net brought in puffer and inkfish, as well as flounder, a variety of snails, one spider, one white shrimp and many starfish.  The deck hand who talked to us about the different fish seemed very knowledgeable about them, he said that prior to his present job he had been a fisherman for 20 years.

My sister Julia was brave enough to hold one of the pufferfish, which is also know as "blowfish".  It puffed up with air the minute it was picked up out of the tub into which it and the other fish had been placed into.  Pufferfish have an extremely elastic stomach which can be filled with either water or air as a deterrent to any predator who may entertain the idea of consuming the inflated fish.  Pufferfish are used in making sushi, however, parts of its body are poisonous.  Chefs who prepare the delicacy have to know how to prepare the fish for human consumption.  When placed back into the water the pufferfish could only lay on its side until it deflated, then it flipped over and swam away, blowing bubbles out of its mouth in the process.  What a fascinating fish!
Another interesting creature, which our guide showed us, was the inkfish.  It is actually not a fish, but a cephalopod or invertebrate; the one he showed us is one of 800 species, which include the squid and octopus.  The crew mate squeezed the ink sac of the fish to show us how it expels the colored liquid to confuse its predators.  Another fish which we looked at closely was the flounder.  It is a flat fish which usually lies on the bottom of the ocean floor.  It has eyes which migrate to different parts of its head as it changes from larval to juvenile stage.  As it lies on the ocean floor its eyes are on the side which faces up. 
We also examined several starfish closely. They have an eye spot on each of its arms.  If injured the arms grow back.  Its many tube feet are very tiny and filled with sea water, which allow the fish to move about on the ocean floor.  Both sides of the starfish can be seen in the picture below.
Later in the day, after our boat trip, we crossed the causeway over to Padre Island.  We did get some beach walking done.  We were going to have supper in Port Isabel, but the traffic on the causeway was so jammed up because of construction. It seemed a more expedient to find a restaurant on the island.  That turned out to be an excellent idea because we found a place to eat overlooking the harbor, and we had more dolphins to watch as they were cavorting in and out of the water.  What a perfect ending to our day!

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