Grand Cayman’s mammoth wreck, the former USS Kittiwake, has become home to some very interesting critters over the past few years. These include schooling horse-eye jacks, which circle the aft superstructure; green eels resting in the shadow cast by the wreck’s massive profile; and arrow crabs in every nook and cranny. These are only a few of the aquatic creatures that the gargantuan wreck shelters.
Recently a new tenant has taken up residence on the massive shipwreck — a great barracuda. You can find this impressive fish resting in the shadow created by the Kittiwake’s crow’s nest almost any day. The large silvery fish greets divers and snorkelers with his toothy grin, striking trepidation into those who’ve heard tall tales about the dangers this legendary reef predator poses to humans.
In reality — like sharks — the barracuda gets a bad rap. It’s narrow mouth and sharp teeth are perfect for grasping passing reef fish, not human appendages. Some erroneously think that barracudas are attracted to shiny things, like earrings and dangly bracelets. Believe me, this ancient predator evolved with the ability to distinguish between your Rolex and a shiny fish. Truthfully, because of their sheer size, adult great barracudas are simply unafraid of you. They don’t turn and swim away like most fish, and it’s easy to misconstrue this behavior as aggression. Replace your fear with knowledge and you’ll see one of Mother Nature’s most adept predators, overflowing with grace and beauty.
Guest post by Jason Washington, iDive Cayman Islands
Jason Washington is the managing director of iDive Global Ltd. and the co-owner of Ambassador Divers, a PADI Five Star facility located at the Comfort Suites Resort on Seven Mile Beach. Living and working on Grand Cayman as an underwater photographer/scuba instructor for the past 20 years, Jason’s work has been featured in numerous documentaries and feature films. Find it here on Instagram.