Nature doesn’t always provide us with perfect conditions, but the diversity of diving that can be done in Palm Beach can make it right no matter what. With all the rain we had for the last couple of days, it was only a matter of time before all the fresh water runoff would make its way out to the reef. Although seas were quite flat, a ground swell was noticeable, especially by the surfers near the shore. Water temperature was a soothing 75-76 degrees.
Visibility was down, from the 50-100 feet we had at the beginning of the week, to about 30-35 feet. Now depending where you are coming from (ie. a quarry) this might seem like a great day, but we tend to be a little spoiled here in Palm Beach. If the water is a little dusty and dark, too many of us tend to skip on the diving. NOAA’s inaccurate predictions (AGAIN!!!) don’t help.
But this doesn’t need to be the case. There are tons of amazing encounter to be had in less than perfect conditions. A closer look at the reef will reveal a whole other side to diving in Palm Beach.
In the hopes of finding a little better visibility, captain Mark dropped the group on the north-eastern side of Breaker’s reef. A slight south current had been reported. This deeper water — 50-65 feet — should afford us a little more visibility as it would be less affected by the ground swell.
Upon descending to the reef, the group came across a turtle and two large goliath groupers. A gang of reef fish appeared to be squabbling about something as they faced each other with mouths agape. Eels of all sorts hid in the maze of soft corals and sponges. Angelfish circled each other high up in the water column. A close look at the reef revealed all sorts of miniature marvels.
For our second dive, we followed our tried-and-tested method of diving the eastern edge of the reef, this time at The Trench. Out of a tiny hole, lobsters antennas radiated in every direction. A gorgeous sharptail eel moved along the bottom in search of any crustaceans.
We reached the eastern end of The Trench where the school of glassy sweepers swam in unison above the extinguished outflow pipe. With hardly a trickle of north current and visibility down into the 30s, I noticed the fish seemed a little more at ease. Many of them swam higher up in the water column. One blue parrotfish, surprisingly, swam alongside me. These beautiful fish have always evaded me; always keeping a safe distance from me and my camera. I was elated to have one swim alongside me for a few seconds.
On a whip coral, a tiny whip coral shrimp travelled up and down attempting to hide from my view. As I drifted across the top of the soft corals, I wondered what other creatures were hiding in this maze of coral. I’m certain somewhere out here in this forest of corals there are numerous jewels yet to be discovered. Who knows? Maybe Florida’s first pygmy seahorse was right under my nose. Hopefully one day, when my attention isn’t distracted by the grandeur of the coral reef and clear water, I will once again answer that call to look for the smaller magic living on the reef.
*** If you would like to purchase any of these photographs, please contact Laz at TheLivingSea.com. ***