Snorkeling in Calheta
On our trips to the ocean, we are looking for the biggest animals in the sea. Whales and dolphins but also turtles, sharks and seals usually don’t occur directly at the coast but nevertheless the littoral zone as well as the nearshore regions are very rich in marine biodiversity.
Especially during the summer, the conditions in the South of Madeira are excellent for snorkeling. It can be very interesting to take a closer look at the variety of organisms inhabiting the crystal-clear coastal waters.
The abundant fish species show lots of different form and color variations. Among the most common ones are the Canary damsels (Abudefduf luridus). Those territorial inhabitants of shallow waters are dark in coloration but have neon-blue fin fringes. The colorful Ornate wrasses (Thalassoma pavo) are cleaner fish which take off parasites and loose skin form other species, like for example Mediterranean parrotfish (Sparisoma cretense). Alike the parrotfish, the Redlip blenny (Ophioblennius atlanticus) is a grazer feeding on algae from the rocks. Salema porgies (Sarpa salpa) and juvenile Yellow barracudas (Sphyraena viridensis) can be seen in bigger schools.
Black sea urchins (Arbacia lixula) inhabit cracks in the rocks, diverse crustaceans (Crustacea) like Nimble spray crabs (Percnon gibbesi) move between the stones and limpets (Patella rustica) are perfectly camouflaged by algae covers. It needs a trained eye to find Octopuses (Octopus vulgaris) which are usually hiding during the day, whereas Common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) are easier to spot while moving free though the water.
There is a lot to be seen and it has not always to be the largest animals in the ocean to make a great encounter. Grab a mask and snorkel and take a look!
by Jan-Christopher Fischer