Devil Fish

The Beautiful (and warm) Bahamas
by Emma Kelley -- November 21st, 2013

With the onset of winter, the days here are growing colder and darker.  Around this time of the year, I find myself scrolling through photos taken in warmer places…


 Last spring, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with the New England Aquarium to the Bahamas for their annual collection trip expedition.  This trip was actually my first experience with blogging and got me hooked!

Right on Boston harbor, you’ll find the New England Aquarium.  The aquarium is home to a wide variety of fish and other sea creatures, along with a dedicated team of ocean conservationists who educate the public, maintain incredible exhibits, and conduct research, all to live up to their mission of protecting the blue planet.

Adults and children from all over the east coast and the world visit the New England Aquarium to learn more about the ocean.  My interest in the marine world first started as an enthusiastic five-year-old, pressing my face up against the glass of each exhibit and splashing wildly in the touch tank.

After my sophomore year of college, I was fortunate enough to intern with the New England Aquarium as a dive intern for their centerpiece exhibit: the Giant Ocean Tank.  I could write a thousand blogs about all of the incredible experiences I had interning, such as cuddling turtles and playing chicken with 7-foot sandtiger sharks.  For now, I’ll share this quick video shot by a visitor and move on with my story.

(click on the photo below to watch the video)

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 1.27.27 AM

This past spring, I was invited to go with the dive team on their collecting trip expedition to gather new fish for the reopening of the Giant Ocean Tank.  Over the past year, the exhibit had undergone an enormous renovation and needed new residents.

But where to get these new fish!  The Bahamas, of course!



I flew down to Miami and boarded the RV Coral Reef II.  This boat took us all the way over to Bimini in the Bahamas. For a week, we dove three to four times a day, chasing (and sometimes catching) fish.


The R/V Coral Reef II


View from the boat.


A terrible selfie – because why not?

Working with the Bahamian government, the New England Aquarium builds a list of the types of fish and how many of each species we would like to collect.  The list must be approved long before we even depart from Boston.  This ensures that we are not damaging the reef fish populations by removing too many fish, or fish that may be threatened or endangered.

The first thing I can say about catching fish: it is NOT as easy as you may think and I am absolutely TERRIBLE at it.

On the first dive, at a wreck called The Sapona, I confidently grabbed my large vinyl nets and hopped into the water.  I immediately identified a few fish on our “fish wish list” and the chase began.  It ends up that fish are a lot faster than I am.  They are also smarter than I anticipated.

The trick is to team up with at least one or two other divers and slowly encircle the fish you’re after.  If you slowly corner them so they don’t panic, then you might just stand a chance.   By the end of the week, I had managed to catch a few fish, including one gorgeous rock beauty (with LOTS of help from my dive buddies).

Between dives, we could relax on deck, soaking up the sun and eating the delicious food our chef made each day.  Talk about paradise.  At the end of the week, we packed up all of the fish, sent them to Boston, and reluctantly got on our flights back home.


Packing up the rock beauty!

Months later, while helping move the new animals into the renovated tank back in Boston, I was lucky enough to see my rock beauty swimming in and out of the new habitat.


At home in the new Giant Ocean Tank







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