Fun in Las Aves, Venezuela (or "American Boy's Dream: Fishing and Boobies")

On our way from Margarita Island, Venezuela to Bonaire, we decided to make a brief stop in Las Aves. Las Aves is made up of a horseshoe reef that gives shelter to two islands and a few smaller cays. The name "Las Aves" comes from the large number of birds that make the islands their home.

Despite the extensive reef, navigation in good light is fairly easy as the deep water is plenty deep (very blue) and the shallow water is very shallow (very green), so it is easy to tell the two apart. As we worked our way through the reef to an anchorage Stacy on I were on lookout from the cabin top, Matti was driving, and Jo was checking our position with the diagram in the cruising guide. We were also using the GPS and computer to track our position on the electronic charts (which were once again off and put our current position in the middle of the mangrove forest).

After a brief tour to get familiar with our selected anchorage, we dropped the Beast in 25 feet of water. We set the anchor and then kicked back and relaxed after our 237 mile passage from Margarita. Soon after we were visited by the Venezuelan Coast Guard. The officer checked our paperwork and then did a fairly extensive search of the boat. This was actually the first time Ladybug has been searched since we started cruising. The officer was friendly and professional and was soon on his way.



Jo landed this 45" barracuda on the way in.

Who's got nicer teeth?

Stacy with one of several snappers that we had for dinner.


After all we are in "Las Aves", not "Las Pescas". The bird life here has to be seen to be believed. They perch in the mangroves by the hundreds, maybe thousands. The majority are various species of booby, but there are also other seabirds and herons (we saw frigate birds and pelicans). From the anchored Ladybug we could hear a wonderful chorus as they argue over branch rights and feed their young. It really gets crazy at sunset when they are as thick as mosquitos at a northern Wisconsin softball game.

Stacy and I took the dingy and explored the shoreline with our cameras. The photos below were taken with our digital camera which has a wide angle lens. The range was about 5-15 feet!. The birds were very curious and only a little nervous about us getting so close.

Here is one type of booby. Can anyone tell me exactly which type?


Some red footed boobies.


A very cute red footed booby chick.

In addition to the above, we took numerous photos with Stacy's good 35mm with a 80-300 zoom lens. They should be fantastic.

Later Matti and I went for the swim over to the reef. Since we had so closely inspected the boobies, they must have decided to do the same to us. They swarmed over our heads for about 20 minutes. Every once in a while one would come in low, just above the wave tops, and then pull up just before it reached our heads. It would then look down at us from a height of maybe 5 feet, spreading it's tail feathers wide to help it slow down to get a better look. While this might sound a little frightening, they did not seem to be the least bit hostile. We enjoyed the encounter immensely.