I hear it quite often… Where should I go to scuba dive in Florida? Most people quickly jump up and say the Florida Keys. Certainly there is a lot of great scuba diving in the Florida Keys, but for a great diversity of marine life–both large and small, and colorful reefs, West Palm Beach is hard to beat! Scuba diving in West Palm Beach, Florida, will reward you with some great sea turtle encounters, goliath groupers, eels of all sorts, and much more! Today was one such day of pure scuba diving bliss!
We headed to the southern reefs, ranging in the 45-60 foot range, for two spectacular reef dives in the warm, crystal-clear Gulf Stream fed waters. Being afraid of heights is not a good thing when we jumped in the water for we could clearly see the reef sixty feet below our feet. The water was a soothing 82 degrees with a very mild north current.
Our first dive on Ron’s Reef was filled with all sorts of great encounters. Numerous squids hovered above the reef. For the first time ever I saw a squid use its defensive ink another another squid. From the looks of it, a male was pestering a female a little too much. The light show, as the male squid’s body strobed in colors, was an amazing sight. He quickly got the hint when he got covered in ink, though.
A purple mouth moray was hunting with numerous jacks, groupers, and even a soap fish along the reef. A large southern stingray glided alongside the group on the outskirts of the reef. Reaching Ron’s Rock, our friendly and large goliath grouper greeted us.
Throughout the dive numerous loggerhead sea turtles cruised by us. It’s amazing how many loggerhead sea turtles we have in West Palm Beach, Florida. In fact, West Palm Beach, Florida, is the second largest nesting site for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the world! Yet another good reason when asked where to scuba dive in Florida the answer should be West Palm Beach!
After a while we take these loggerhead sea turtle sightings for granted, but in many places around the world you would be very lucky to see just one. Here in Palm Beach you are likely to see a handful on one dive… Sometimes the number of loggerhead sea turtle sighting are even much higher than that!
For our second dive we jumped in on the southern end of Breaker’s reef. With such great visibility, I decided to hover a little high in search of some of Larry Wood’s hawksbill sea turtles (check out his Florida Hawksbills Research & Conservation web site). Sure enough within minutes I came across one that was feeding on a sponge. Watching it for a while, I was surprised to see it sneak up on a second hawksbill sea turtle who was out having some sponge lunch, too. Once they saw each other a meeting of the (turtle) minds appeared to be taking place. They faced each other, lowered their heads, and a watery version of the spaghetti scene from Disney’s Lady & The Tramp took place. Neither turtle was harassing the other–unlike the squids… Good thing, too, because they could get in trouble with the FWC for that!! 🙂
Most of my dive was watching these turtles eat, interact, and go about their daily life. On my ascent one of the hawksbill sea turtle followed me! Now how can you beat that? Once again, another great reason when someone asks where to scuba dive in Florida you answer: West Palm Beach!
If you would like to purchase any of these underwater photographs, please contact Laz at TheLivingSea.com.