Palm Island, Grenadines

Palm Island Resort.  The Grenadines. 

Coordinates in degrees decimal:  N 12.586229, E -61.399326

Visited in  February, 2013.   Photographer: Nigel Thomas.    Cameras:  Pentax WG-II and Sea & Sea 1G with DX1G housing


Palm Island is one of the 32 smaller islands that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  It is located to the southern end of the chain, east of Union Island.   The island lies on a west to east axis. The best snorkelling is largely restricted to the sheltered, western end of the island, as the prevailing winds are from the east and north east. Average wind speeds exceeding 10 knots occur between January and June, while during the rest of the year only gentle breezes blow, generally below 10 knots.  The eastern shore, for snorkelling, is largely inaccessible, due to the strong easterly winds.

Average temperatures vary from 27C in the winter to 29C in the summer (August to September), although peak temperature may exceed 31C.  Rainfall is limited to around 23cm per month between August and November, with minimums between February and March (<10cm).

Several areas of easy access to the sea can be used to view the variety of marine life.  Despite the degraded condition of the corals in some areas  a good range of habitats can be found including live coral outcrops, rock ledges with numerous overhangs, seagrass beds, mixed sand and coral debris as well as clean sandy seabeds.  During our visit in 2013 we recorded approximately 100 species.

Produced with the support of the resort.

Three easy to access snorkelling locations are numbered 1 to 3 in the following text. Offshore wavebreaks indicate the prevailing, strong easterly winds.

The easiest entry point for snorkelling on the island is adjacent the landing jetty (location 1), to the left of the jetty as you face the sea.  This area has a mixture of rock ledges, mixed coral debris, seagrass, sand and small coral outcrops.

Numerous ledges around area 1 provide shelter for a wide variety of fish species, while the shallow top of the reef supports a variety of small hard corals, soft corals and gorgonians, including seafans.

Entry point 2 is on the north-western point of the island, just before the reef emerges on the shore.  Entry and exit from the sea is on a steep but safe sandy beach, next to the beach path. This area had the greatest variety of open water fish species.

Entry point 3 is at the furthest (eastern) end of the southern beach, adjacent a small shelter.  In this area the water is largely shallow, with sand and some coral debris.  If you swim out you will reach a large reef feature including live coral.  You need to exit at the same point from which you entered, as further west a very shallow ridge of rock appears (see photo), making exit uncomfortable.

Resort Sealife Photos

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French Grunt. Perciformes. Haemulon flavolineatum.  Small to medium sized fish, generally found in small shoals (occasionally mixed with other species) around coral and rocky reef features.  Found in all areas.

Sergeant Major. Perciformes. Abudefduf saxatilis.  Small to medium in size.  Frequently found in small groups and shoals in the area of the overhangs in area 1 and near the rock outcrops in area 2.

Fish nest.  Occasional patches of fish eggs (purple colour) can be found attached to areas of rock that have been cleaned of sediment.  Most commonly observed species is the Sergeant Major, which can be seen guarding its nests, around area 2. 

Banded Butterflyfish.  Perciformes.  Chaetodon striatus.  A small species of fish, often found in pairs, in the vicinity of the reef features of areas 1 and 2.

A pair of Foureye Butterflyfish.  Perciformes. Chaetodon capistratus.  Small species, generally found in pairs around the rocky ledges of the western coast, areas 1 and 2.

Brown Chromis.  Perciformes.  Chromis multilineata.  Small fish generally found in small to large shoals.  All areas.

The Glassy Sweeper. Perciformes.  Pempheris schomburgkii.  Small fish found in sheltered areas particularly caves and under overhangs, frequently in densely packed shoals.  Area 1.

Barred Hamlet.  Perciformes.  Hypoplectrus puella. You might be lucky enough to see this solitary and small species in the deeper water areas off area 2.  

Probably a Graysby.  Perciformes. Cephalopholis ?cruentata.  Medium sized solitary fish, found in caves and under overhangs, generally area 1.

Doctorfish.  Perciformes.  Acanthurus chirurgus.  Medium sized fish,  found around reef features in small to large shoals, often mixed with other Acanthurus species. Area 1 and 2.

Juvenile French Angelfish.  Perciformes.  Pomacanthus paru. As a juvenile very small, to medium as an adult.  Juveniles act as cleaning fish.  Found around reef, areas 1 and 2.

Species of Damselfish. Perciformes.  Stegastes sp.  Very small to small species.  Generally very territorial, often aggressively protecting their space on the reef.  Found extensively in areas 1 and 2.

Probably a Redtail Parrotfish. Perciformes. Sparisoma ?crysopterum. Medium to large species.  Found feeding over rocky reef in areas 2 and 3.

Juvenile Blue Tang. Perciformes.  Acantharus coerleus.  Small as a juvenile growing to a medium sized fish as an adult.  Found in sheltered overhang areas, particularly area 1. 

Adult Blue Tang. Perciformes. Acantharus coerleus.  Medium sized as an adult.  Often found in shoals with Doctorfish around reef features.  Illustrated here beneath an overhang in area 1.

Bluehead Wrasse.  Perciformes.  Thalassoma bifasciatum.  Very small to small in size.  In shoals or solitary.  In the latter case frequently found swimming within other species shoals. Also performs role of cleaner fish.  Areas 1 and 2.

Possibly a Bridled Goby.  Perciformes. Coryphotopterus ?glaucofraenum.  Very small, almost transparent species, found on sand near reef features.  Area 1.

A collection of juveniles, including some initial phase (black and white stripes) Striped Parrotfish, Perciformes, Scarus inserti; an initial phase Bluehead Wrasse (yellow in colour!), Perciformes.  Thalassoma bifasciatum; and a juvenile Spotlight Parrotfish (bright white dots), Perciformes, Sparisoma viride).  All around the rock ledges of area 1.

Two species of fish, upper specimen is a Yellowtail Damselfish, Perciformes, Microspathodon chrysurus, small in size, with characteristic brilliant blue spots in its juvenile form. Lower specimen is an Orangespotted Filefish, Tetraodontiformes, Cantherhines pullus. Small to medium in size, generally found close to reef features.  In this case both found in area 2.

Longspine Squirrelfish.  Beryciformes.  Holocentrus rufus. Small to medium in size, this species can be found drifting around shaded reef features, in areas 1 and 2.

Spotted Burrfish.  Tetraodontiformes.  Chilomycterus atringa. Medium to large in size. Found hiding under overhangs in area 1.

Smooth Trunkfish.  Tetraodontiformes.  Lactophrys triqueter.  Small species found swimming with paddle like strokes in all rock and coral reef areas.

Whitespotted Filefish. Tetraodontiformes. Cantherhines macrocerus.  Medium sized fish generally solitary, found around reef features in deeper waters.  Found in area 2. 

A Trumpetfish.  Syngnathiformes.  Autostomus maculatus.  Medium in size.  Often found hiding with  other fish or amongst  invertebrate species, in this case, within a Sea Plume off area 1.

Sand Diver.  Aulopiformes.  Synodus intermedius.  Medium in size.  Common in all areas over sand.

Goldspotted Eel.  Anguilliformes.  Myrichthys ocellatus.  Image is of a small specimen but may grow to over 90cm.  Found in seagrass areas off area 1 and 2.

Spotted Moray Eel.  Anguilliformes. Gymnothorax moringa.  This was a small individual but they can become large, approaching 2m in length.  Found here hiding in a small hole in area 1.

Stingray.  Myliobatiformes.  Dasyatis sp.  A large stingray individual observed well hidden under sand in area 3.

Southern Stingray.  Myliobatiformes.  Dasyatis americana.  Large specimen agitating the seabed to release prey species from the sediment, area 3.

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