14 January 2011

Diving the Sea Emperor with Dixie Divers

Luis has some gift certificates to dive on the Lady Go Diver out of Deerfield Beach and had been eager to use them before they expired at the end of this month. It has been cold, and there are not a lot of divers eager to pay $60 for a 2-tank dive in cold weather. Pavan needs 6 paying divers before he will run the boat, but he had a trip going on Friday morning. Luis invited me to go with him.

I got to the park early: about 7:45 am. No one was there. The boat was not there. Luis came at 8:00 am. He called the shop, and they assured us the boat would go. Captain Nick brought the boat in at 8:30 am. We waited for the other divers, but everyone was aboard by 9:00 am and we departed. We got to the Sea Emperor about 20 minutes later.

As I stepped off of the swim platform, I saw a crab swimming in the water right below me. I looked around once I was in, but the crab was long gone. There was very little current and Luis and I dropped down to the wreck. The first thing we saw was a dead nurse shark just below where the line was tied. We swam under the stern and penetrated the wreck, swimming from compartment to compartment from stern to bow. I spotted a Green Moral Eel on the top of the wreck and we went up to get some pictures.

By this time, the other divers were gathering around, so we headed East through the culverts, where we spotted a Goliath Grouper. As I turned to get Luis' attention, the Grouper left the culvert in which he had been hiding and we got some parting shots. Then we swam to the rocks where there were lots of reef fish, but I could not find any stingrays in the sand. We turned back at the end of the rocks, and a large Southern Atlantic Stingray swam up underneath me. I shot video of him as we went back to the wreck.

When we got back to the Sea Emperor, the ray swam up on the top, then swooped down at me and pushed his shoulders into my thighs, looking for food. I had nothing for him, so I pushed him back and petted his belly and he swam away. After the long swim back, I was low on air, so we went up the line and were the last divers back.

Our second dive was a drift dive along Moray Bend, just North of the Boca Raton Inlet. The surface interval had been brutally cold and I was not looking forward to getting back in the water, but I did. We dropped to the reef and swam to the Western Edge, where we found a large Green Moray Eel. There was a lot of life on the reef, but little that was exceptional. As we were coming up, Luis watched a Loggerhead Turtle come by to check me out. I was busy with the flag line and did not notice the turtle. Luis got a picture, but you can barely make out a dark shape which is the turtle. He did get my attention and I watched the turtle swim to to the sea bed and then disappear from sight. I could tell from the shute pattern that it was not a hawksbill and it was much too big to be a Green Sea Turtle.

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