Scuba Aruba: Arashi Reef/Wreck

Our anchorage at Arashi Beach was pretty near to a mooring ball where we’d seen several boats drop off snorkelers. We’d heard there was an airplane wreck in that general area, so we assumed that that was that ball, and went over in snorkel gear to investigate.

Instead, we found a shallow area full of elkhorn coral, and big schools of glassy sweepers, grunts, and surgeonfish.

There was also this little guy hanging out by the mooring line, and a couple of cuties under a rock ledge.

About that ledge. The whole Arashi Beach area is full of slabs of rock like that, interspersed with thin patches of sand. When we got back to our boat, we went to check how our anchor was doing, and found it gripping one of these ridges with its point. Not going anywhere, but not the most confidence-inspiring either, considering the gusty night winds.

So we didn’t find the wreck that time, but the next morning, we waited for a gap in the parade of dive boats, and headed out to the mooring behind us in deeper water. On descending, we found ourselves in a graveyard of assorted airplane parts.

The coral, however, was a bit disappointing. We followed the line of the reef into deeper water, and it perked up a little, but still felt more dead than alive. A good example is the last picture in this series, a dead gorgonian half overgrown with fire coral, the other half with sponges.

We’d been excited to see tunicates on the Antilla wreck, and here we saw a lot of them. There were also a good few of these yellowhead jawfish, but they’re very shy so this was the best we could do on shooting them.

Another thing we’ve seen a lot of here are queen angelfish. Here are a few in some different life phases, plus a photobomb from a passing french grunt.

There were at least a few other fish around. Like this porcupinefish, always happy to see us, and this nassau grouper.

Or these surgeonfish, and this initial-phase saddled parrotfish.

We only saw one lionfish, which might explain the number of juveniles around. Also, here’s a huge french angel.

From the department of not-a-fish, here’s a lobster and a turtle.

And last, but certainly not least, the Jazzfish: pointing out the dinghy on the surface, the vastness of empty space beyond the reef, and a big free-floating bubble algae.

We headed back to the mooring for our 3-minute stop. It’s funny, we’ve gotten so used to shore dives, with a slope and gradual ascent, that the idea of waiting three minutes just doing nothing on a line felt weird and foreign.

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