Anse Chastanet, St.Lucia

Nick Troubetzkoy’s Anse Chastanet

Anse Chastanet, Soufriere, St. Lucia

Coordinates in degrees decimal:  N 13.864737, E -61.07788

Visited in  November, 2014.   Photographer: Nigel Thomas.    Cameras:  Pentax WG-II and Sea & Sea 1G with DX1G housing

Website:  http://www.ansechastanet.com

 

Anse Chastanet is situated on the west coast of St. Lucia.  It is an enclosed bay with large cliffs to the south, a sandy beach in the centre and rocky outcrops to the north of the bay.  The area has particularly good examples of open water fish species, that gather off the edge of the Marine Reserve, as well as a healthy array of sponge, hard corals and gorgonians.  

 

This site was visited without the support of the resort.  

Several areas within the bay at Anse Chastanet are both safe and interesting to snorkel over.  The two main areas of interest are the reserve area to the left (south) of the bay (1 & 3) and an area of rocky outcrops to the right, in the north of the bay (2 & 4). 

To the left of the bay the Marine Reserve area is marked out with buoys and floating rope.  No boats are allowed in this area.  The safest entry point is off the steps at the end of the vessel landing jetty (1) although entry can also be made from the beach, watching out for boats.  In the shallow waters there are a variety of habitats, including isolated rock outcrops, covered in tube and barrel sponges and surrounded by sand and seagrass. 

Below the cliffs (3) the water is much deeper and open water fish may be observed shoaling at the boundary of the reserve area.   At the base of the cliffs there are several caves, gullies and overhangs.   The image illustrates the area below the cliffs where a variety of corals, sponges, seafans and urchins may be found.

 

The best entry point for the right hand side of the bay (2) is on the beach before the rocky outcrops start to appear.    These rocks are covered in a rich variety of sponges and seafans, with numerous small fish species noted amongst them.  The seafans dominate the rocks further to the right of the bay, suggesting wave exposure is greater in this area, so take care when there is a swell.

 

Interesting habitats, including the continuation of the rocky outcrops, with very dense growths of seawhips and searods can be found at the northern (right-hand) extent of the bay.  These occur at their greatest density on the rocks below the large outcrop (4).     The whole of the bay supports a wide range of fish species, including some of which are found exclusively over the seagrass, particularly in the centre of the bay.

Reef and seabed associated fish

click on image to open and view text

French Angelfish.  Pomacantharidea.  Pomacanthus paru.  Example illustrated is an Intermediate Phase, which are small in size, growing to a medium size when adult.  Noted below the cliffs in the reserve area.

Banded Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon striatus.   Small fish frequently found in pairs.  Here noted over the reserve area, hiding within a Giant Barrel Sponge.

Ocean Surgeonfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus bahianus.  Small to medium in size.  Frequent over the reef area of the reserve, sometimes in shoals.  Shoals may also include Blue Tang and Doctorfish.

Blue Tang.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus coeruleus.  Blue colour can be variable from light to very dark.  Noted solitary and in shoals with other similar species.

French Grunt.  Haemulidae.  Haemulon flavolineatum.  Small to medium sized fish, generally in small shoals around reef features and near ledges. 

Smallmouth Grunt.  Haemulidae. Haemulon chrysargyreum.  Small in size, occurring in shoals over the reef edge.

Yellowtail Damselfish.  Pomacentridae.  Microspathodon chrysurus.    Juvenile form of this species with brilliant blue dots on the body.  Noted in all shallow water reef areas.

Sergeant Major.  Pomacentridae.  Abudefduf saxatilis.    Small species occurring in large shoals in the shallow waters of the reserve area.

Shoal of Brown Chromis.  Pomacentridae.  Chromis multilineata.  One of the most common species in the area.  Noted over the edge of the reef in the reserve.  

Princess Parrotfish (terminal phase).  Scaridae.  Scarus taeniopterus.  Small to medium in size.  Noted feeding over seagrass beds but also present over the reef in the reserve area.  

To the left of the Octopus is a Yellowhead Wrasse (initial phase).  Labridae.  Halichoeres garnoti.  Noted over reef surface in reserve area.

Bluehead. Labridae. Thalassoma bifasciatum.  Small individuals, noted individually as cleaner fish or in small shoals.  Observed  over the reef in the reserve area.

Very small Bluehead juveniles, aggregating over the surface of a Giant Barrel Sponge

Redlip Blenny.  Blennidae.  Ophioblennius macclurei.  Very small individuals found sitting on rock ledges.  Quite territorial and not afraid to chase intruders away.

Peacock Flounder. Bothidae.  Bothus lunatus.  Medium sized species, using variable camouflage to merge in with background rock and coral, in reserve area.

Spotted Scorpionfish.  Scorpaenidae.  Scorpaena plumieri.  Small to medium in size.  Very well camouflaged, blending in with background on weed covered rock.  Spines are venomous.

Sand Diver.  Synodontidae.  Synodus intermedius.  Small to medium sized species, found over sandy areas adjacent reef.

Trumpetfish.  Aulostomidae.  Aulostomus maculatus.  Medium to large in size.  Found hiding amongst Sea Rods often hanging in a vertical position.

Balloonfish.  Diodontidae.  Diodon holocanthus.  Generally small individuals found blending in with background features.  Will inflate if provoked. 

Smooth Trunkfish.   Ostraciidae. Lactophrys triqueter.   Generally small in size, found over the reef features, mostly solitary but occasionally in small groups.

Whitespotted Filefish (Orange Phase).  Monocanthidae.  Cantherhines macrocerus.  Medium sized species, generally found in pairs.  Notably common in the shallow waters of the reserve area, including over the seagrass.  

Yellow Goatfish.  Mullidae.  Mulloidichthys martinicus.  Small to medium sized individuals, found in small groups feeding over rock and sandy areas.

Spotted Drum.  Sciaenidae.  Equetus punctatus.  Unusually long dorsal fin characterizes this species, which may be found in the hollows and caves of the reserve area.

Common Lionfish.  Scorpaenidae.  Pterois miles.  An introduced species to the Caribbean.  Avoid contact as fin spines are highly venomous.  Noted sporadically in the reserve area.

Sharptail Eel.  Ophichthidae.  Myrichthys breviceps.  Medium sized species often found in the open over seagrass beds and sand.

Spotted Moray.  Muraenidae.  Gymnothorax moringa.  Moderate sized individual noted hiding off the edge of the reserve reef area in relatively deep water.