Cathedral Reef makes up its name as you will find coral spires and towers rising up from the ocean floor.
|Name Dive Site:||Cathedral Reef|
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Cathedral Reef starts shallow with the wall cresting at 30 ft. Unlike other parts of the Long Caye reef system, those at Cathedral are deeply segmented. Sculptured by and rising above the glistening sand channels are colorful coral spires and formations, which have inspired the name Cathedral. Divers will find exploring the top of the reef a rewarding experience especially when descending among the coral towers. You'll find great narrow passages and short tunnels beside some interesting and different marine life.
Macro photographers will love Cathedral. A lush coral garden adorns the reef top and a collection of sponges paints the deep parts of each coral stack red and orange. Healthy growths of boulder, brain and large plates of cactus coral make excellent photographic subjects. Sea anemones are varied and spread their tentacles out from protective coral nooks. Many act as protective hosts for little spotted brown and Pederson Cleaner shrimps. A varied and friendly fish population adds to the spectacle. Fish watchers will take delight with large French angels, stoplight parrots, trumpets, groupers and schools of yellowtail snappers. The angels and snappers are particularly easy photographic targets.
Beyond the shallow reef, large sheet coral up to 6 ft across mantle the wall. Here, huge basket, rope and long yellow tube sponges add form and grace to the rocky wall. Wire coral, deepwater lace and other soft coral form elegant growths that extend up to 5 ft from the wall. Look for turtles and lobsters among the living cover on the wall. Also keep an eye on the deep parts of the reef below you, and on the open sea, for large pelagic, such as eagle rays and huge groupers or jewfish.
At this point the ledge is very wide and contains a veritable catalog of the most exquisite fishes and marine creatures. Moray eels, especially green moray, are fairly common. Right in the center of the site is a tall arrangement of corals which rise like a small cluster of church spires. The tallest of these is over 8 feet (2.4 m) tall.
Between Silver Caves and Cathedral at the top of the reef wall, I witnessed a curious mating spectacle. Numerous Creole wrasses were swimming around in pairs. Altogether there were thousands of these fish, but each pair was swimming independently. The male would swim above and behind the larger female. The fish were swimming with their pectoral fins, causing an erratic, almost comical, motion as they engaged in this ritual.
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