Temperature: 83 - 84° F
Visibility: 60 – 80 feet
Thermal protection recommendation: 3mm shorty or full suit
Jim & Dawn, Jacques, Bryan, Flore, Cate, Jennifer & Todd, Marjorie & John, Desrée, Jari, Amy & Hailey and Fred
Captain – AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain – CHRISTY WEAVER
Engineer – ROB SMITH
Chef – MATT CRAWFORD
Instructor – JESS POLK
Instructor – CONOR FERRIN
Sunday: Eel Garden & Amphitheatre – NWPT
Monday: Boat Cove & Gullies – West Caicos
Tuesday: Rock N Roll & G-Spot – French Cay
Wednesday: West Sand Spit; Half Mile & Rock N Roll – French Cay
Thursday: Dewey’s Delight & Rock N Roll – French Cay
Friday: The Dome - NWPT
It is another Saturday and another opportunity to share all our great dives sites with another great group of divers. Welcoming back, returning guests, Fred and Amy, this time accompanied by Hailey – Amy’s daughter and from further afield we welcomed guests Desrée from England and Jari from Estonia. Our remaining guests were from Canada and across the UK and, of course, are equally welcome.
A night at port on Saturday, after a great meal from chef Matt, and a good night’s rest before an early departure on Sunday morning out to Northwest Point of Providenciales. Our first stop of the week was at Eel Garden, which surely lied up to its name. Three spotted morays swam openly, hunting amongst the coral heads, often accompanied by a hind or a small grouper, whilst another enormous spotted moray inhabited its usual spot. I fear he may have grown too large to get out! Along the edge of the wall, challenging for all to see, sat a large scorpionfish – only obvious when its gills flared out as it breathed. A hawksbill turtle became friendly with guest Cate as it swam up very close underneath her. Along the wall our usual line up of Creole wrasse and blue chromis made the water column feel alive with an occasional visit from a Caribbean reef shark as they patrolled the blue.
For the afternoon we moved to Amphitheatre – home to seven types of black coral and a phenomenally beautiful wall. We saw wire coral spiral off the wall, home to many of the tiny wire coral shrimp. Gorgonians provided a feeding platform to the decorator crabs as they grasped the plumes with their bag legs allowing their long and powerful forward claws free to capture their tiny prey. A green turtle proved elusive, seen swimming to the surface to breath, but not returning to the group. The night dive brought out the juveniles, including a scorpionfish, just one inch long, a reef squid, slightly smaller and a post larval flounder, completely clear and swimming in the water column. Lobsters of all varieties chose habitats under coral heads and in holes, including our regular Caribbean spiny as well as spotted spiny and slipper lobsters.
For Monday we had moved to West Caicos and Boat Cove. Our resident broad banded moray, with its flat face and flip top head (looks a little like a Muppet!), remained buried in its coral head, just occasionally peering out. Our Caribbean reef sharks cruised along the wall and then joined our divers under the boat. For the afternoon we moved along, a short distance, to Gullies to enjoy the swim through and all of the encrusting corals that line it. In the gorgonian plume to the south of the wall two neck crabs enjoyed the water movement bringing their food as well as a small single toothed simnia, tiny and almost indistinguishable from its home. Of course, the reef sharks came with us and provided entertainment fro all. A hawksbill turtle hung out completely consumed by feeding and therefore comfortable with any one around.
The weather picked up and so we moved immediately after the fourth dive and made the trip around to French Cay.
Tuesday morning came and we were moored at Rock N Roll. The reefs around French Cay are very rich and it is not necessary to travel far during the dive, but we worked our way out to the wall and then enjoyed the edge and beyond. Creole wrasse flowed like a waterfall over the edge of the wall above the busy parrotfish, scraping the algae from the reef, keeping it under control. Two porcupinefish spiraled and danced above a coral head, marginally changing their colours as they moved. In the barrel sponges banded coral shrimp were obvious by their outrageously long antennae, and in the gorgonians, flamingo tongues were interspersed with West Indian simnia. Toward the end of the dive, a very chilled hawksbill turtle bobbed along, in no particular direction, which brought us over to a large sleeping nurse shark that had taken advantage of a large overhang, under which to slumber.
We moved a short distance to G-Spot for the afternoon. Our resident Cubera snapper hovered out in the blue – at least five feet in length, it is often mistaken for a grouper. Also in the water column we saw oceanic triggerfish swimming in their unusual way, large fin top and bottom. Our little juvenile nurse sharks were around but not as active as they proved to be at night. The hawksbill turtle that we saw during the day was snoozing at the edge of the wall during the night dive.
The following morning we made the short journey further southeast to West Sand Spit for a spectacular morning of diving. In the sand chute an enormous female southern stingray, whilst smaller males swam above the reef. The reef was just alive with blue runners, mahogany snapper, Creole wrasse and blue chromis. A large nurse shark also cruised through the dive. Great visibility combined with warm waters made for a good morning.
For the afternoon we moved to Half Mile, back at French Cay and a particularly wonderful surprise – a batfish. Sat snug to a coral head, it was sand coloured with very little marking and did not move for the entire of our time at the dive site. Instead it exuded a strong sense of disinterest despite the excitement that he engendered. We enjoyed a couple of ballonfish who circled close to the bottom and hugged adjacent coral heads. A large lobster strutted across the reef unstoppable despite the coral heads that came to be in its way and as the end of the dive neared, we enjoyed two Caribbean reef sharks circling within the shadow of the boat. Two guests – John and Marjorie – were delighted to see an octopus, tucked into a coral head. For the night we moved back to Rock N Roll to hang out with our resident nurse sharks and despite their presence, a couple of guests were still fortunate enough to see another octopus. Crabs and lobsters abound including a sculptured slipper lobster – a very unusual looking critter.
We tried a new dive site for Aggressor and French Cay for our next morning. Dewey’s Delight, closer to the island than we usually dive, was installed this week by Reef Fund, a charitable organization who is responsible for the upkeep of our moorings, amongst other things. Typically French Cay, this site produced a dramatic wall, with large isolated coral heads leading to it. It was home to many spotted morays we were to discover along with Caribbean spiny lobsters, banded coral shrimp and a juvenile yellow tailed damsel, which just glowed in its jeweled state.
The afternoon took us back to Rock N Roll at French Cay as we were experiencing some squirly weather. We decided to stay at French Cay for that reason, and what a smart decision that proved to be. Rock N Roll is always a great site for nurse and reef sharks. The cubera snapper was out in all its glory, but the highlight for four of our guests was the encounter with six bottlenose dolphins. They came within 25 feet of Jen, Todd, Cate and Flore and the video footage was amazing not only for the images but also the excited squeals coming mainly from Cate.
For Friday morning we started early so that Flore could complete her night diving specialty so a 6am dive, which was well supported by the rest of the group at The Dome. A great dive for the end of the week enjoying the structure that was formerly the feature of a French TV show called Pago Pago. The frame is covered with encrusting and tube sponges and is the home to secretary and spiny head blennies. The second dive was fully supported and a trip out to the wall took our guests to the chimney structure filled with golden crinoids.
Back to the dock for lunch and a relaxing afternoon reflecting upon the week passed.
We have many things to celebrate this week with nine courses being taught over the week. Congratulations to Jen & Todd for completing not only their Advanced Open Water, but also their Nitrox specialty. We also give a shout out to Desiree who also became a Nitrox diver this week. Kudos goes also to Flore who has completed her Deep and Night specialties. A commendation goes to Dawn for becoming an Underwater Naturalist and finally to Hailey for completing her Advanced Open Water course. Then we have our two iron divers, now proud owners of the Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Iron Diver Medals – Desiree and Flore.
We have a full group joining us next week, Sportsco from Arkansas. Check in to see how great our week of diving is.