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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Chopped Fish versus filleted Fish

Editor’s note: I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well. I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

Difference #1:: Chopping fish versus filleting them. I know that the Dominican way, which is to chop fish, wastes no meat. But I was raised in a culture where fish bones in a meal of fish were considered distasteful at best and a deadly choking hazard at worst.

I was raised on the Atlantic shore and earned money during school summer vacations working on “head boats” where tourists (fares paid by the head) were taken out to try fishing; and I earned extra tips filleting fish they caught and wanted to take away to eat. I fillet my fish and when I eat fish I break the meat using the edge of my fork because if there’s a bone I’d find it that way. I positively hate finding a bone in a mouthful of fish.

A Dominican friend of mine says he enjoys sucking the meat from a fish-bone in his mouth. That’s how he was raised. I understand the difference, and that Dominicans are appalled by the manner in which I waste meat by filleting fish; and they’re right. I’m wrong, but I will continue to fillet my fish. If I can get it done at the market, everyone is happier. I have no fish offal to dispose of and the fellow at the market earns a couple of extra dollars (as I did as a boy) filleting the fish for us.

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dive fest 2008 photos

Experience the Caribbean’s longest running diving festival at Dominica’s Dive Fest, which takes place from 10th – 19th July 2009. Dive Fest is organised by the Dominica Watersports Association (DWA) and aims to raise awareness about the diving opportunities and unique marine life in Dominica, as well as bringing scuba diving to a wider audience.

The festival is open to both experienced and beginner divers, with a number of taster sessions available throughout the week for adults and children who have never dived or snorkelled before. Some of these sessions are free of charge and suitable for children as young as eight.

Intermediate and expert scuba divers will also find plenty on offer at Dive Fest. The schedule for experienced divers includes underwater treasure hunts and photography competitions. Festival sponsors Sealife Cameras will run photo competitions throughout Dive Fest, giving divers the opportunity to try out their latest technology. The best photo from each shoot will be entered into a grand prize draw with the winner announced at the photo exhibition at the end of the week.

Alongside the scuba diving there will be a number of other activities, including a whale watching excursion, a children’s treasure hunt, a photo competition, the annual and hotly contested Kubuli Carib canoe race, and the climax to Dive Fest, the Soufriere Kubuli beach party on July 19th.

Dominica’s west coast boasts thriving healthy reefs covered in colourful sponges. Seahorses, frogfish, flying gurnards and scorpion fish are commonly spotted in these waters but are rarely seen around other Caribbean islands.

To view the full schedule of events during Dive Fest, see dominicawatersports.com, or for more information about Dominica visit discoverdominica.com.

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Leaving Portsmouth, bear right where the road goes straight into Fort Shirley on the Cabrits and you will soon reach Douglas Bay. We first visited this spot in 1987, and then again in 1992. Back then the beach was long and broad and bottom along the entire area was sandy.

Alas, storms changes that. But there is still a sandy beach and sandy bottom area just at the beginning of the bay, on the left as you enter. The swimming beach is excellent, sandy with a very gradual slope and no waves or current to speak of.

 photo of Douglas bay in Dominica.jpg

A nice surprise awaits the snorkeler who ventures up the beach about 30 yards out. There are rock/coral undersea islands that abound with beautiful marine fauna. Each island tends to have a dominant fish species; one has a school of sergeant majors, another mostly blue chromis, and so on. You’ll also spot the occasional Moorish idol, butterfly fish, discus, etc.

As is the case with Toucari, the sandy areas between the rocks and the beach may have sand dollars that a snorkeler can easily dive to collect. In Douglas Bay you may also find varieties of starfish, harmless white sea urchins, and even a conch.

Fort Shirley, Douglas Bay battery

From the beach at Douglas Bay you can also snorkel towards the left back towards the rear of the Cabrits. The undersea vista is of rocks and undersea life preferring a rocky habitat.

This post was guest blogged by Dan Tanner

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