Sugar Beach, St.Lucia.

Sugar Beach Resort.  Val Des Pitons, Forbidden Beach, La Baie de Silence, Soufriere, St. Lucia.

Coordinates in degrees decimal: N 13.828618, E -61.062409.

Visited in May/June 2017. Photographers: Nigel Thomas and Julie Miller.  Cameras: (NT) Olympus Tough TG-870,  Pentax WG-II, Sea & Sea 1G with DX1G housing,  (SM) Fujifilm Finepix XP90.   

Website:  www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/sugarbeach.  

Sugar Beach Resort sits at the foot of the Petit Piton on the southwest of St. Lucia.  The seafront of the resort comprises of a variety of habitats, including sandy beaches, rocky shores and an area, rich in marine life, within the Marine Reserve.  The easiest and safest snorkelling is in the area cordoned off by ropes in the Marine Reserve, to the north of the bay.  This has the most variety of marine life and is safe from boating activity.  In total, nearly 220 marine species have been recorded in the resort area.

Produced with the support of the resort.

The best area for snorkeling is in the northern part of the resort, directly beneath the Petit Piton.  This is part of the Marine Reserve and is marked out by guide ropes and marker buoys.  From the beach this area is on the right-hand side past the landing jetty and no boats are allowed access to the area.

The reserve area includes a wealth of brightly coloured sponges, corals and algae. It is also the best location to see the numerous fish species that shoal in the area.  It is possible to swim outside of the limits of the reserve marker buoys, particularly to the west of the area.  However, it is strongly recommended that you remain close to the shore as boat activity can be intense.

In the centre of the bay (photo is facing north), the beach initially shelves gently into a sandy subtidal area, then rapidly descends over a seagrass bed.  This area has less diversity than the rock areas but still supports a variety of species, including some only found over this area.

View over the seagrass beds with an upturned table providing a focus for numerous fish species, including well-disguised juvenile lionfish.

View from the centre of the bay facing south, with Sugar Point in the middle ground  and Grand Piton in the distance.  Entry into the water here is not recommended due to the presence of water taxis.  Easier access may be found just past Sugar Point where a set of steps are located.

Steps (partial) provide the best entry point for this boulder and mixed rock area.  The diversity of coral and sponge life is reduced compared to the reserve area but good examples of shoaling fish species were observed as well as the start of a Sea Fan and Sea Plume area.  Be aware of both swell and currents in this area.

View over the southern beach area (currently restricted access) with a central landing stage and, in the middle distance, the southern limit of the area marked by a short concrete wharf. 

The southern sandy bay has a variety of habitats, initially including extensive Seagrass areas, with small rock outcrops in the shallows and sporadic Sea Plumes and numerous Sea Cucumbers.  Towards the southern edge of the resort the seabed becomes rocky again and a good area of sponge and coral outcrop was observed.  Particularly large barrel sponges were also noted.

Reef and seabed associated fish

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Brown Chromis.  Pomacentridae.  Chromis multilineata.  Probably the most common fish species in the resort area.  Small in size and generally found in shoals above reef areas.

Sergeant Major. Pomacentridae.  Abudefduf saxatilis.  Another of the very common species found in the reserve area, frequently in small groups or shoals.

Another example of the Sergeant Major. Pomacentridae.  Abudefduf saxatilis.  In this case an adult male, which turns blue during its egg guarding phase (eggs appear as a purple patch on the rock).

Yellowtail Damselfish.  Pomacentridae.  Microspathodon chrysurus.  The adults of this species are a rather dull brown but with a yellow tail.  Over the reef top, guarding a small territory. 

Yellowtail Damselfish.  Pomacentridae.  Microspathodon chrysurus.   The more startling electric blue dots of this juvenile warrant its other name of Jewelfish.

Longfin Damselfish.  Pomacentridae.  Stegastes diencaeus.  Juvenile of this species found inhabiting crevices and hollows in the shallow water of the reserve area.

Probably a Threespot Damselfish.  Pomacentridae.  Stegastes ?planifrons. Difficult to give an exact identification, but likely a Threespot due to its aggressive behavior, the photographer being nipped on several occasions!!

French Angelfish.  Pomacanthidae.  Pomacanthus paru.  Juvenile of this species found acting as a cleaning fish in shallows of the reserve area.

Rock Beauty.  Pomacanthidae.  Holacanthus tricolor.  Difficult to get a good image of this juvenile individual.  Noted in shallows of reserve area.

Banded Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon striatus.  Adult of the species photographed at night in the reserve area.

Banded Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon striatus.  Very small and fast swimming juvenile noted over the seagrass beds adjacent the reserve area.

Spotfin Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae. Chaetodon ocellatus. Small fish noted in the reserve area, often in pairs.

Two species together.  To the left: Foureye Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae. Chaetodon capistratus.  Noted over the top of the reef, often in pairs.  To the right: Ocean Surgeonfish. Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus bahianus.  One of the most common fishes in the resort area, often found in shoals with other, similar, species.

Shoal of Ocean Surgeonfish. Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus bahianus.  Mixed with other species including Blue Tang. 

Blue Tang.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus coeruleus.  Note yellow spine at the base of the tail.  Blue colour can be variable from light to very dark.  Noted on its own or in shoals with other similar species.

A small group of Ocean Surgeonfish, surrounding a very similar species, the Doctorfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus chirurgus.  Note the vertical black bars on the A. chirurgus.

French Grunt.  Haemulidae.  Haemulon flavolineatum.  Found in small shoals throughout the reserve area.

Smallmouth Grunt.  Haemulidae.  Haemulon chrysargyreum.  Small shoal of this species was noted, in slightly deeper water, off the edge of the reserve area.

Mutton Snapper.  Lutjanidae.  Lutjanus analis.  Medium sized individual noted in slightly deeper water off the edge of the reserve area.

Mahogany Snapper.  Lutjanidae.  Lutjanus mahogoni.  Normally solitary over and around coral and large sponges, in the reserve area.

Coney (juvenile).  Serranidae.  Caphalopholis fulva.  Very small juvenile of this bicolour variant.  Noted in the centre of the bay, near debris amongst the seagrass (in the company of a Lionfish).

Coney (adult).  Serranidae.  Caphalopholis fulva.  Unusual colour variant of the Coney noted in the reserve area.

Another colour variant of the Coney (adult).  Serranidae.  Caphalopholis fulva. 

Harlequin Bass.  Serranidae.  Serranus tigrinus.  Small individual found hiding in a hollow in the middle of the reserve area.

Yellowtail Parrotfish (initial phase).  Scaridae.  Sparisoma rubripinne. Found in the reserve area.

Queen Parrotfish (initial phase).  Scaridae.  Scarus vetula.  One of the more common parrotfish species in the reserve area.

Queen Parrotfish (terminal phase).  Scaridae.  Scarus vetula.  Noted throughout the resort but most often in the reserve area.

Princess Parrotfish (terminal phase).  Scaridae.  Scarus taeniopterus.  Noted feeding on the rock surface in the deeper waters of the reserve area.

Two species.  Both noted in the reserve area.  Righthand side: Princess Parrotfish (juvenile).  Scaridae.  Scarus taeniopterus.  Centre: Yellowhead Wrasse (initial phase).  Labridae.  Halichoeres gamoti. Numerous examples in the reserve area, including several other phases.

Yellowhead Wrasse (terminal phase).  Labridae.  Halichoeres gamoti.  As with the initial phase, common in the reserve area.

Puddingwife (initial phase).  Labridae. Halichoeres radiates.  Noted over the seagrass in the shallow waters of the reserve area.

Collection of juvenile and initial phase Bluehead.  Labridae.  Thalassoma bifasciatum.  Small groups of this species in juvenile form may be seen throughout the reserve area. 

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