If you’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of different reefs throughout Palm Beach I am sure you are aware how different each one can be — even when they are near to each other — when it comes to marine life and topography. Take, for example, today’s dives on Paul and Ron’s reef.
The topography of Paul’s reef is that of a double ledge inshore reef. The top of the reef sits in 45ft of water and you’re laying in the sand in 56ft. As you reach the northern end of this reef the ledge builds up considerably — dropping straight down from 45 to 56 feet. The marine life on this reef abounds! Space for new coral growth seems limited, as every piece of real estate is occupied by some piece of coral or sponge. Hovering above it is just as many different types of fish. There is no question this reef is quite healthy with little apparent damage caused by mankind.
Traveling a little further north to Ron’s reef the topography changes. The reef, for the most part, tappers off into the sand with a very slight slope. There is certainly a lot of coral life here, too, but in comparison to Paul’s reef, not as much. Corals and fish life are scattered a little more on this reef than Paul’s.
For me, finding unique marine life seems a little easier on this reef since my senses aren’t being over saturated with things to see. Marine life seems to congregate into specific areas unlike on Paul’s where they seem to spread out throughout the reef. Reach the northern end of Ron’s reef and things change. The abrupt end of this reef means you’re at Ron’s Rock. This area appears to have been a large undercut ledge that collapsed forming a maze for sharks, eels, goliaths, and other marine life to hide.
The neat part of this dive is that at Ron’s Rock, a short 30ft. swim north across the sand puts you on a small reef called Middle Earth. Its east/west facing ledge is constantly getting nourished by the northerly current, so there is quite a bit of coral growth along this ledge. The southern end of this reef, a 100ft (or so) swim north, again comes to an abrupt stop with a tall east/west ledge that is host to countless marine life.
The fun is far from over! A short 40ft. swim north over sand from this tall ledge on Middle Earth will put you right on the southern end of Flower Gardens. I especially love this area because it seems a lot of marine life congregates in this area. I have had some great encounters with turtles, numerous sharks, and the countless garden eels in the sand are always great to watch. Has anybody else noticed how they appear to live paired up? My favorite part is that there is a great cleaning station here where I can get a manicure! Today the highlight was a tiny purple-mouth moray eel no longer than five inches in length (half an inch in diameter) at this cleaning station.
In my opinion, every little section of reef in Palm Beach has something special to offer. Whether it’s chockfull of corals where your eyes can’t focus on anything specific, or a slightly less coral-rich area, diving in Palm Beach has something great to offer every inch of the way.