Swimming with silversides!
There’s a unique spawning event that occurs every year in Grand Cayman, and that is what’s locally known as ‘the Silversides.’
Silverside is a generic term for many different species of fish, and the ones we are specifically talking about are what’s known as Dwarf Round Herrings, or Jenkinsia Lamprotaenia. These little fish are a schooling species, about 2 inches long and usually found inshore in Caribbean and other tropical waters. They feed on zooplankton, fish larvae and eggs, and are preyed upon by many larger fishes and squids.
Dwarf herring spawn at consistent sites every month of the year during the full moon, but for some reason their numbers swell into massive schools for short periods between the months of March and July. During this time, millions of these cute little critters will take up temporary residence in sheltered areas of the reefs. This can include dive sites with swim-throughs like Eden Rock, Devil's Grotto, Trinity Caves, and of course the USS Kittiwake.
Swimming with these massive schools is a wonderful experience. Regular visitors to the Cayman Islands have been known to try and time their trips to coincide with the spawnings, and a very regular inquiry on our reservations line is “are the silversides around?”
When the dwarf herrings are known to be in town, trips to the USS Kittiwake fill up quickly. Divers on rebreathers have the best encounter, as the fish undisturbed by bubbles, will school right with you. However due to their sheer numbers, open circuit divers will have wonderful interactions as well.
Even from distance, the schools bunch up to form tunnels and shapes as they move through the shipwreck.
It's an experience not to be missed!
At peak times, schools of these little fish can become so thick, you can't see where you are going!
Tony, carefully moving through a curtain of schooling dwarf herrings.
Schools of the silversides will form awesome tunnels and other shapes around the divers.
Bubble-blowing divers can also have a great experience with the silversides.
A selfie taken, swimming throgh thick schools of silversides. Right after this photo was taken, I swam into a railing I didn't see due to the fish.
Schools of silversides form all kinds of cool shapes as they swim through the compartments of the wreck.