After over two decades of diving in South Florida, I would think I have seen it all. Little did I realize that I was just scratching the surface. The ocean was about to surprise me once again and leave me in awe over its mesmerizing beauty and alien-like shapes. The norm was about to become extraordinary.
Throughout this summer I have had the wonderful opportunity to join like-minded adventurers on a different type of dive here in West Palm Beach aptly named a Black Water Drift. We head out to a couple hundred feet of water at night and jump right in. Now this isn’t some crazy, technical deep night dive. In fact, by all intent and purposes, it’s a lot like a dive at the Blue Heron Bridge, hovering in 10-20ft. of water, except we’re doing it out in the open ocean. Best of all, no one can be accused of stirring the bottom!
Many of the creatures we see are commonly seen on the reefs during the day except they look nothing alike. Take for example the photo above. That alien-looking creature hitching a ride on a tiny jelly is one we have all seen numerous times, and have eaten them, too! This is no other than the larval stage of a Florida spiny lobster. Of course, this lobster is no where near size limit measuring in at around half an inch.
Then there is the other 95% of the creatures that we see that leave us scratching our head. “What in the world is that?” is a commonly used phrase when doing Black Water drift dives. Thankfully, we have the dedicated work of scientists to help us identify these strange and beautiful creatures. Just like us, the scientist are pretty giddy about seeing what amazing new creatures we will find next.
If you think you’ve seen it all, I highly recommend you give Black Water drift diving a try in West Palm Beach. All those common sea creatures you see on the reef will take on a whole new perspective. Like me, I am certain you will feel like you’re experiencing the ocean for the very first time all over again. I will warn you, though. These dives are addictive! You will want to do one of these dives every day.