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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
17 – 23 January 2015
Air Temperature: 80°
Water temperature: 79°
Visibility 80 – 100 feet
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: LOWEL OROURKE
Engineer: ROBERT SMITH
Chef: AILSA KELLY
Divemaster: SHEA MARKWELL
Stewardess: DYNAH TRISTAN OROURKE
GUESTS: Patti, Erin, Janna, Susan & Billy, Deleena, Mary, Craig & Jimmie, Marcelo, John & Anne, Rob & Leesa, Roy, Helgardt, Antoinette
Sunday – Eel Garden & The Dome, NWPT
Monday – Gullies & Boat Cove, West Caicos
Tuesday – Gullies, Brandywine & The Anchor, West Caicos
Wednesday – Rock N Roll & G-Spot, French Cay
Thursday – Half Mile, French Cay
Our final week of diving and the crew are all keen to have an awesome week, as it will be ten weeks before we get to dive again. We headed out from Turtle Cove to long swells, gentle winds and blue skies. A great week for diving has been forecast and we are all ready for it.
We motored over to Eel Garden at Northwest Point for the first dive site of the day. Our first shark encounter did not take long to occur and set the stage for the remainder of the week. At the other end of the size scale; tiny gaudy clown crabs peered out from their holes in encrusting sponges. In the sand, the southern stingrays covered the sand in search of food, in particular the garden eels after which the site is named.
We travelled just a short way to the dive site of the Dome for our afternoon & night dives. On the wall a large scorpionfish sat beautifully camouflaged on the wall, whilst in a sea plume, equally well disguised, a neck crab plucked at any passing morsel of food. In every sea rod, it seemed as though a trumpet fish was utilising their shape as protection. A small trunkfish hovered close to the bottom, not too far away from a much larger porcupine fish.
A beautiful early morning crossing saw the sun rise to flat calm seas. West Caicos was our destination. We started at Gullies and were delighted to have our entire dive surrounded by Sully (who I believe is showing signs of pregnancy!) and two other large, female Caribbean reef sharks. There was always one turning towards us and coming in close. Over the wall the Creole wrasse and blue chromis fluidly cascade down over the wall. In a pile of dead coral assembled and build into the home for a sand tilefish, tiny squat anemone shrimp danced around.
Boat Cove, our next dive site was a site for morays: golden tail, green and spotted but not our resident broad-banded moray that took a break for the week from his usual spot in Juvie Hall. We still had a good number of banded coral shrimp waiting patiently to clean any of the larger critters. On the wall a large piece of black coral was home to a group of skeleton shrimp, so tiny that they are difficult to see, however today, upon closer inspection we could just make out about twenty juveniles that were hanging close to their mothers torso.
An epic day for Tuesday as this was a day that as well as our regular five dives we were to squeeze in a dawn dive. So at 5.30 our intrepid divers entered the water back at Gullies. From the outset we could hear the melancholy song of the humpback whale. Clearly there were some in the area. To this musical background we watched the reef awaken and all the reef fish appear from their sleeping spots. A school of Creole wrasse, originally five in number started to swim along the length of the reef and as they swam their number grew until about fifty or sixty moved out to the water column over the edge of the wall. A hawksbill turtle cruised along the reef allowing photographers and videographers to swim for a short time with him. Three Caribbean reef sharks joined us as daylight increased, or at least we saw them at that point!
Brandywine was the choice site for our first full day dive. Our resident giant anemone was in place and out in all its glory turning hot pink for anyone who added light to it. Another hawksbill turtle joined our group and all the while the whales sang.
We moved to The Anchor for the remainder of the day, the most southerly dive site along West Caicos. The anchor was a big attraction for the guests for photos and video. The usual suspects of parrotfish and butterfly fish busied themselves around the reef carrying out their important roles of controlling algae and making sand.
As the divers were ascending and returning to the yacht, we suspected that the whales were close as a couple of the local day boats looked as if they may be tracking them. All of a sudden with just a few guests onboard two humpbacks surfaced just fifty feet away from the boat, took a couple of breaths and then returned to the blue. They eventually settled approximately a quarter of a mile from the Aggressor and every fifteen minutes they would surface. It looked as though they were moving back towards us and so, for our fifth dive of the day, we headed in their direction in the hope of an underwater sighting. Sadly it was not to be, however the dive was amazing with turtles, morays, flounder, sharks and a good swim to set everyone up for a hearty supper.
The following day we made an early move to French Cay. There were Caribbean reef sharks everywhere. Swimming along the wall, in and amongst our guests and all over the reef. There was an immense opportunity to get some great photographs and video and our guests did not hold back. The afternoon at G-Spot provided a stunning backdrop for the dive with reef sharks during the day and nurse sharks during the night. Having been used to seeing spotted eagle rays with the water temperature cooling we were disappointed to have nit seen any during the week, however this was rectified this evening with a nocturnal sighting of two of these graceful creatures as they swam over the top of our guests and out towards the mooring.
We moved over to Half Mile for our last early morning dive and awoke with the reef as the water gradually became lighter and the fish started to appear from the reef. We then departed for Caicos Marina and Shipyard to relax for the remainder of Thursday.
It may have been just six days but it was filled with great encounters and good humour. Great fun was had by all!
Check out our log next week to see how our first week with the humpback whales in the Silver Bank develops. Whilst we are sad to leave our diving friends in Turks & Caicos we are very excited about the much larger creatures that we will spend time with in the Dominican Republic.