Whales, dolphins, frogfish, flying gurnards, seahorses, batfish, huge rays - sighting the unusual has been usual this past summer, says Derek Perryman, owner of Dive Dominica. The waters off Dominica are home to some of the most out-of-the-ordinary sea creatures in the world.
For example, the collection of cetaceans is amazing, which is why many consider Dominica the ''Whale And Dolphin Watching Capital Of The World,'' according to Perryman. Dominica is blessed with an abundance of resident and visiting marine mammals, including spinner and spotted dolphins, pilot and sperm whales, false orcas and at least a dozen other species.
The whale and dolphin watching is reliable on Dominica. But how reliable? The local guides estimate that passengers spot whales on nine out of ten whale watching trips. Ninety percent of the time, when you look for whales, you find them.
Perryman estimates that divers see dolphins on five out of every ten of his diving trips. That means that you see dolphins with Dive Dominica 50 percent of the time, even when you're not searching for them!
Why look for unusual sea life? Because the behavior of some of Dominica's underwater inhabitants is downright fascinating, if not bizarre. Take the frogfish; a superb ambush predator. Some individuals look like brightly colored sponges, with heads that consist mostly of an upturned mouth. Others may be brown and green like seaweed-covered rocks, and may even have real algae growing in their rough skin.
The majority of the frogfish's head is mostly upturned mouth. These fish actually lure prey into ambush using a spine that acts like a fishing pole. The frogfish flicks the lure over its mouth to attract small fishes. When the prey is within reach, the frogfish sucks it into his cavernous mouth in 6 to 10 milliseconds. This is one of the fastest capture mechanisms in the animal kingdom.
Derek Perryman notes that the underwater terrain on which they dive is often as unusual as the sea creatures they encounter. Dive Dominica boats run divers and snorkelers to a spot called ''Champagne.'' The big volcanic formation starts in three feet of water and slopes gradually to 90 feet. At 18 feet, visitors find cannons, planking and other remnants of a 250-year-old shipwreck.
Geothermal vents at a depth of three to ten feet put the ''bubbly'' in Champagne. The vents pump thousands of bubbles and hot water from the sea bed. If you dig into the sand, it becomes too hot to touch without gloves. At night, endless creatures populate the site: squid, octopus, eels, crabs and lobsters, among others.
Dive Dominica serves up a neverending paradise of seascapes. The underwater terrain is spectacular: brilliant coral- and sponge-encrusted pinnacles, sea mounts, walls, pass-throughs and ''boiling'' volcanic sea vents.
Dive Dominica is a PADI Dive Center. The dive staff of nine takes pride in anticipating your every need. During your stay you won't need to lug or rinse your scuba gear; the staff sees to it for you. Dive Dominica operates a fleet of four boats. They are all modern, wide, roomy, stable, fast and safe. The boats measure 30 feet, 36 feet, 45 feet, and 47 feet. Three of the four are catamarans. Most dive sites are less than a 20-minute boat ride away. Whenever the urge to submerge strikes you, remember that memorable dives are available 24/7, right off the end of the Dive Dominica dock.
But it's the lush tropical setting, warm welcome and superb service that sets Dive Dominica and Castle Comfort Dive Lodge apart from the others on the island. It's no wonder that 40% of guests return for a second (or third) visit. The hospitality starts at the local airport, where visitors are picked up for the scenic drive to the resort.
You realize the personal service and attention to detail are special at Castle Comfort when you step out of the airport van. Your feet barely touch the ground before a staff member whisks your baggage to your room. After a quick check-in, another friendly staff member offers you a rum punch and explains how to enjoy your stay and the diving at your new home-away-from-home. Your hosts are eager to make sure that you get all the hospitality and service you expect from Castle Comfort Lodge and Dive Dominica - and more.
For complete details on the fall sale or general information on Dive Dominica, phone the U.S. reservations office:
Local phone: 954-351-9740