Pura Vida Divers was out diving in the clear blue Gulf Stream swept waters of Palm Beach with a wonderful group of divers. Among the divers, we were fortunate to have Dr. Richard Smith. I had a pleasant conversation with him as we motored out to the dive site and I found out he had done his PhD on the pygmy seahorse (I want to be him when I grow up!).
I listened attentively as he spoke of these magnificent little creatures. Unfortunately, as far as we know, pygmy seahorses do not live in our area. The closest we come to pygmy seahorses here is the dwarf seahorse. Then again, new species of pygmy seahorses are found from time to time. Maybe one day Palm Beach will have its own elusive pygmy seahorse. Keep your eyes peeled for something not bigger than your pinky nail hanging out on the sea fans. You never know!
Our first dive was on North Double Ledges where we had just a slight trickle of north current on this gorgeous reef system. Water temperature was between 77-78 degrees, and the visibility was in the 60ft. range. The seas, ranging from 3-4ft., had finally begun to settle down after the strong winds we have had for the past couple of days.
The reef was teaming with life, both large and small. Numerous golden tail morays were nuclear hunting with groupers. Plenty of green and spotted eels were seen as well. As luck would have it, Allison found a large shortfin pipefish near the reef. Of course, Dr. Richard Smith was there to see one of Palm Beach’s Syngnathiformes for himself.
Our second dive was on the Toy Box and Playpen. This unique artificial reef system consists of a barge in 60ft. of water, the Paradise wreck, and concrete culverts. As the name implies, this is always a fun dive filled with plenty of marine life.
As soon as we descended to the wreck, I could hear the loud barking sound of a goliath grouper. This dive site always has an elaborate concentration of soft corals and sponge that makes for some wonderful photography. Nurse sharks are usually seen resting inside the large concrete culverts. A small, friendly hawksbill sea turtle swam along the divers for a while giving several divers the opportunity to pose beside it for a photograph.
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Richard Smith’s work with the pygmy seahorses and see his stunning photography, make sure you make your way to his web site: OceanRealmImages.com and check out his Pygmy Seahorse Research Blog, too!
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