Scuba Bonaire: Red Slave, June 17

Red Slave is one of the southernmost dive sites, named for the red-painted slave huts on shore. Back in Bonaire’s slavery days, these tiny huts were living quarters. Now, they remain as monuments. You might think that the big orange pyramid was a commemorative statue, but not quite: different-colored towers like this used to mark the sites where ships should pull up to take on cargoes of various grades of salt.

The beach here is a sea turtle nesting site. On the opposite side of the road, at the southern tip of the island, is a flamingo sanctuary. Hence the big, unconcerned bird walking down the road. We stopped to take a picture, another car came by, and we found ourselves speaking scuba sign language to communicate. Funny country, Bonaire.

The further south you get on the island, the less its bulk protects you from the open ocean currents. This can be inconvenient for divers, but it also tends to attract bigger creatures. We weren’t graced with sharks or dolphins, but we did get a visit from this ancient turtle, and its much smaller cousin.

The reef has a nice mix of corals, and we got to see a nice mix of fish, from this school of creole wrasses, to the ever-present brown chromis, and these relatively small snapper.

Probably the coolest thing we saw was this ocean triggerfish, which kind of wobbles and twists back and forth as it swims. We initially thought might be a sunfish, but when we asked about this at the dive shop the guy kind of laughed at us and said “you definitely didn’t see that, everyone who thinks they saw one actually saw an ocean triggerfish” And when we looked at the big book of fishes, sure enough, it looks nothing like a sunfish. Still, we thought it was awesome looking.

The current started to pick up on us, and we decided to cut the dive short. On the way up, we saw this white spotted filefish, and a little school of these cool-looking palometas. It’s not the best shot, but we love their long, stupid fins.