Night Dives make me happy!!

Where is Little Corn Island?  Nicaragua!! The Corn Islands are two islands about 40 miles off of the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea. Little Corn is about 3 square miles.

Interesting info I found on Wikipedia…

The Corn Islands were a British protectorate from 1655 until 1894, a period when the region was called the Mosquito Coast. Apparently they were frequented by Caribbean pirates. Then in 1894, the Nicaraguan government claimed the area.   In 1914, under the Bryan–Chamorro Treaty, the islands were leased to the United States for a period of 99 years. The terms of the lease made the Corn Islands subject to U.S. law, but they remained Nicaraguan territory. The right of the United States to use the islands remained until April 25, 1971, when the lease was officially terminated by the denunciation of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty under the presidency of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The United States Coast Guard however maintains a significant presence in the islands, in coordination with the Nicaraguan Navy, to combat the illegal trafficking of narcotics.

The Diving

Hopes of hammer heads and dolphins were crushed due to untimely weather. The diving in general was poor, but three highlights made our time there worth it: the people of Dive Little Corn (super nice), the nurse sharks, and a night dive complete with a Caribbean Octopus!

Nurse Shark: Dare I say he was a friendly shark? During our first dive, we were followed the entire time by a nurse shark named Jake. I loved it! Nurse sharks can reach a length of 14 ft and a weight of 330 lbs. Jake is not quite that large. On later dives, we saw five or more sharks and one was a baby (so cute!). They are nocturnal and bottom dwelling, so during our day dives they were sluggish. Another shark, Stanley, swam directly towards our faces – while cool at the time, looking back it is a bit of a terrifying thought. While in general they are not dangerous sharks, there have been times when they have attacked unprovoked – awesome!

Caribbean Octopus: Why are night dives so damn amazing? Let’s start with the fact that I am scared of the dark. I am also scared of the unknown. I am also scared of being attacked by a creature in the water. Taking all three of these facts into consideration, why do I love night dives? It’s like being in space, floating in nothingness, entering a humbling new world and being in a dreamlike state all wrapped up in one event. During our night dive, we saw a Caribbean Reef Octopus. It is by far one of the coolest creatures to watch. It has specialized skin cells known as chromatophores that change color and texture. Its color range is extraordinarily wide; from red to green and can even change from rough to smooth. This colorful nocturnal creature weighs around 3.3 lb, hunts only at night and feeds on crabs or shrimp, lobsters, and fish. It is one of the most intelligent invertebrate and can disguise itself to avoid detection by predators. I could have spent the entire dive watching the color changing waves across his pulsating body on the bottom of the sea floor. Another amazing trait of night dives is bioluminescence.

Bioluminescence: Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. It is estimated that ninety percent of deep-sea marine life produce bioluminescence, most belonging in the blue and green light spectrum which transmit through the seawater most easily. During many night dives, if the moon is not too bright, you can create your own star wars by turning off your flashlights and moving around in the water. As you pass by the plankton (dinoflagellates), it senses your motion, considers you a predator and luminesces. The idea is to attract even larger predators that will consume the would-be predator – you. 🙂

The Food on Little Corn

I have mentioned before that as a vegetarian it is sometimes difficult to find food when traveling, but this trip we emailed ahead to make sure the place we were staying had vegetarian food available. So…”yes” actually meant “not really”. That was annoying. Of course that was not the only thing they were not completely truthful about – “We have hot showers” actually meant “We DO NOT have hot showers.” Hmmmm…not lovely. However, the best place on the island I found to get food (albeit no protein source) was Cafe Desideri. They have wi-fi, star fruit juice, pasta and desserts as well.

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