While the wind has made it impossible to dive out on the ocean, we are fortunate to have the wonderful diving at Phil Foster park available to us no matter the weather. Today I headed out with our customer, Tracy Nelms, from Virginia.
As we entered the water on the western side of the park we were greeted by a large southern stingray feeding on the bottom. A flying gurnard was busy turning over rocks with its modified pelvic fins. Although they can not really fly, flying gurnards use their pair of iridescent-colored fan-like pectoral fins to keep any fish lurking nearby from stealing their hard earned food. They will also use these fins as a means of protection — spanning their fins to appear much larger to prey.
Continuing on our dive we came across a nudibranch and many more flying gurnards. In fact, by the end of the dive we would see well over a dozen different flying gurnards. A personal record! A large school of jack crevalle swam passed us on the hunt for baitfish. These jacks have been relentless at capturing the numerous finger mullets that have been schooling in the area. We regularly see an amazing show of predation at the dock where Sirena is docked.
As we combed the area for the many minuscule treasures of marine life that live at Phil Foster park, a large northern stargazer erupted from the sand in front of us. This odd-looking fish is named because it buries itself completely in the sand with only its eyes staring straight up (as if looking to the stars) where it awaits any prey that might approach.
Nearby, a lovely mature jackknife fish would swim completely unafraid of us. As we slowly meandered back to shore we would be greeted by many more flying gurnards, large cushion sea stars, and a tiny seahorse who was sporting some great camouflage.
Overall, the dive was a real treat and a welcome relief from these windy days when diving out on the ocean is impossible. Let us be your guide at the fabulous Phil Foster park and come see these and many other unique creatures no matter the weather.
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