As we motored out the inlet, we heard reports from the dive boats up in Jupiter that they had 5-10ft. of visibility. A world of difference from what we had been experiencing the last couple of days. We were hopeful conditions would be better south of the inlet as they tend to be when visibility is poor up north. Reports nearby mentioned we had a south current.
To help better our odds of blue water, captain Walker dropped the group in on the northern end of Drifting Spot. This site is quite beautiful with an abundance of corals and fish life. On this dive site I have seen a sunfish (mola mola), a whale shark, sailfish, and a paper nautilus, to name a few. To say I am excited to dive this site is an understatement. Who know special treat mother ocean has in store? Much to our relief, the water was blue, although a bit hazy, partly to the overcast skies. Visibility was around 40ft.
The reef was bursting with life. Traveling this dive site in a southerly direction gave me the opportunity to explore a part of the reef I do not frequent. Tons of fish abound, and I kept my eyes peeled for the rare encounter approaching out the hazy distance. A large green moray rested out near the reef. Huge schools of grunts encircled patches of orange-colored sponges. It was an underwater photographer’s amusement park!
Back on the boat, we slowly motored to our second site — Breaker’s reef. Taking advantage of the southerly current, we dropped in north of Turtle Mound. It’s amazing to see how much this site has changed after hurricane Sandy. The bottom structure has been excavated, and there are tons of nooks and crannies for fish to hide and corals to grow. My friendly pair of scarlet shrimps were home, but they weren’t in the mood to clean Brooks’, our dive guide, teeth. Maybe next time Brooks should consider having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before the dive. I hear the shrimps are suckers for the crunchy peanut butter.
The group slowly traveled along the western side of Turtle Mound. Larry Wood’s hawksbill turtle, with its satellite transmitter cruised by to say hello to James, on of our guests. A Florida horse conch was preying on a small murex shell. Florida horse conchs are the orcas of the shell world in this area. Of course, if a loggerhead turtle is around then the horse conch better make a dash for safety for the turtle will eat it. No predator is given free roam in the natural world.
I was excited to travel south to the northern end of Breakers. This area has been the sight of huge bait fish, numerous shark encounters, and even an alligator (don’t believe me? check out my alligator story)! I can still see the shadow of the alligator every time I swim past the spot.
The area was teaming with marine life. I swam to the small coral head that sits in the sand on the northern end. A large area that was exposed after hurricane Sandy has already begun to grow an alga film. This alga is usually the first to colonize the dead coral before sponges and corals take hold. In the coming month, I will be very curious to see how this small patch of reef will develop.
The large school of grunts that live in this area were acting unusual, hovering very close to the divers. In the mass of grunts it was apparent why they were doing so for a large yellow jack was circling them, attempting to prey upon them.
Overall, we had two wonderful dives with visibility opening up past 40ft. on the second dive once the sun peeked from behind the clouds. Water temperature was holding steadily at 77-78 degrees and the current was south, but very mild. Seas were a mild 2ft. Not a bad day of diving in our books. Conditions in Palm Beach can change from one day to the next. Tomorrow, we could have 100ft of visibility and that whale shark that shows up around Thanksgiving might make its appearance. Don’t miss out! Come diving with Pura Vida Divers.
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