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Friday, June 27, 2008

Jewels of the Caribbean Sea

Tour the depths of the Caribbean where, in waters famed for hidden treasures, another kind of wealth lies in abundance. From the coral reefs, across the plains, and through the grasses, stunning underwater photography allows you to get close up to creatures rare and fantastic. National Geographic cameras capture a baby sperm whale romping near the surface, a manatee settling down to sleep, and dolphins playing on the sandy plains. Observe predators such as the Caribbean reef shark and the barracuda hunting the weak and unwary. And witness an array of brightly colored, exotic creatures - nature's own living JEWELS OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA.

National Geographic's hour-long Jewels of the Caribbean Sea is actually much more than a showcase of Mother Nature's collection of precious art treasures. It is also a glimpse into the tireless struggle for life that makes the ocean depths shimmer and glitter so spectacularly. As wondrously beautiful as they may be, coral reefs are also living factories, vast and nearly timeless. To pass through an undulating wall of thimble jellies and descend a few hundred feet down these fantastically colored cities of the sea is to descend through history. Here at the bottom, amidst both microscopic bacteria and mammoth manta rays, life is hard won. While vibrantly colored Caribbean reef squid participate in a ritualistic visual combat for mating rights, the battles of others aren't as aesthetically pleasing. Only the most wary survive. This is not to say, of course, that life here is entirely an every-man-(or fish)-for-himself affair. See for yourself the bizarre relationship between the pearl fish and the sea cucumber. Or, for a slightly less unmentionable example, take the Goby and the black grouper. What's a nutritious lunch for the tiny fish proves to also be some pleasant attention to the larger one's hygiene. Ultimately though, as above, so below. The Caribbean may be more exotic in many aspects, but where the beauty ultimately lies is in the will to live.



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