Readers’ wildlife photographs

Jeffrey Lewis sent us some photos from Bonaire, and there will be more. The subjects are diverse! His notes are indented.

Perhaps hese aren’t up to the normal quality of your Reader’s Wildlife photos, but perhaps the subject matter will make them worthwhile since underwater photos seem to be rare in the series.  These were all taken on a family vacation to Bonaire, an island in the Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela.  It’s a special municipality of the Netherlands – almost but not quite a normal municipality.  It’s a rather small island, only 114 square miles, with a population of around 17,500.  Its main claim to fame is in being one of the premier locations for shore diving, with many reefs close enough to shore that they’re easy enough to swim to without having to use a boat.  In addition to all the open water scuba diving & snorkeling that we did, we also explored the island itself, including a tour in some of the island’s caves, and a kayaking trip through mangroves.

Unidentified species of Chiton in tide pool. Class:  Polyplacophora. I found this little guy out in the tide pools behind the house we were renting.  He was out of the water when I saw him. [JAC: These are very cute molluscs.]


Possibly a young Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus grapsus) in a tide pool. It looks similar to photos I found online identified as young Sally Lightfoot Crabs, but the coloration’s not quite the same.  I don’t know how much variation there is within the species.


American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) flying over ocean:


Snowy egret (Egretta thula):


Bonaire Whiptail Lizard (Cnemidophorus murinus). It’s called the Bonaire Whiptail Lizard, but it’s found on a few islands in the Netherlands Antilles, including Curaçao.


Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana):


Donkey (Equus africanus asinus). Donkeys were brought to the island by the Spanish, and have been roaming wild for a few hundred years.


Dracula’s Cathedral. There’s actually no wildlife in this photo.  It was just a very interesting room in the cave.


Cave scorpion: Unidentified species of tailless whip scorpion. Order: Amblypygi. We found this guy in one of the caves of Bonaire.  We also saw a bat and a shrimp in one of the freshwater pools, but my pictures of those didn’t turn out.



There was a magnificent sight that occurred at night, but which I was unable to capture because my camera wasn’t good enough.  There’s a type of crustacean known as an ostracod.  Many species produce bioluminescent chemicals that they use for predation defense, but some species in the Caribbean use the chemicals for an amazing mating display.  Here’s an interesting article on ostracods, explaining what they are and the mating display in more detail:

That article also contains a video of bioluminescent animals that contains a clip of an ostracod display.  Unfortunately they’re not the species from Bonaire, but from a different spot in the Caribbean where they behave slightly differently and their display looks slightly different; but this still gives a pretty good sense of what it looked like.  The ostracod part starts about 30 seconds in.  Here’s a direct link to the video, which should jump directly to the segment with the ostracods:


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Very cool! I think chitons actually move, but only veeerrryy slooowwwllly.

  2. eric
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus grapsus)

    At first I read that as graspus graspus, and thought “how appropriate.”

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    All mention of the ingenious Sally lightfoot crab must eventually turn to the entry on them from The Log of the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck. Here he recounts the day to day adventure of a zoological collecting trip along the Gulf of California, and eventually he brings up the seemingly extraordinary abilities of this crab to make humans look foolish. Read here for the full passage. I still chuckle over it.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      I’d never seen that before. Good link. Definitely reminded me of trying to get photos of them on the trip. Every time I’d try inching my way around a rock to get a better view of them, they’d inch their way out of view.

    • Christopher
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Sea of Cortez is one of my all-time favorite Steinbeck books; I love “Doc” Ricketts. I was completely enthralled by it and the fictional books Cannery Row & Sweet Thursday, featuring the fictionalized “Doc”. I eventually had to track down a copy of his own book, Between Pacific Tides. One day I hope to visit the location of his lab in Monterey.

      Nice pics. Sounds like a nice place to visit. As for ostracods, there are plenty of easily obtainable freshwater species. Not sure any of them are bioluminescent though.

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