Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
11 - 18 June 2016
Air Temperature: 80° - 90°F
Water Temperature: 81° - 86°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Recommended Exposure Suit: Skin to 3mil Shorty
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: CHRISTY WEAVER
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Video Pro: MATT CRAWFORD
Chef: AILSA KELLY
Instructor: TROY SANDY
Sunday - Eel Garden & Amphitheater - Northwest Point
Monday - Magic Mushroom & Gullies - Wet Caicos
Tuesday - Spanish Anchor - West Caicos & “G” Spot - French Cay
Wednesday - 1/2 mile * Rock N Roll - French Cay
Thursday - Elephant Ear Canyon - West Caicos & The Dome NWPT
Friday - Pinnacles - Grace Bay
The diverse group of passengers arrived to the boat just as the crew finished the last polishing on the boat. After everyone found their lockers and were shown to their rooms, Chef Ailsa made delicious pork tenderloin for dinner. Many bottles of wine were shared and loads of tales were told as the guests got to know each other before the next week of diving.
Sunday morning, as the little breakfast bell was rung, guests popped out of bed ready for a yummy breakfast before the first day of diving. The first site of the day was Eel Garden, a perfect site for checkout dives and to brush the dust off your gear. Camera gear was tested out on the Garden Eels and massive Barrel Sponges. For the macro photography fans, the gorgonians and sponges were covered in neck crabs and decorator crabs. The water column was filled with schooling Creole wrasse and blue chromis, while green morays and lobsters hung out around the coral heads. After a second dive of checking out the parrot fish and French angels, the divers slowly ascended to have lunch as we moved over to Black Forest, aka The Amphitheater, for the next dives and the night. As the divers descended toward the wall, they were shown the way by Black Jacks, Yellow Tails, and a couple Reef sharks. Once on the bottom, the main attraction was all the Yellow head Jaw fish darting in and out of their holes. If you were patient enough, you could catch the males aerating the eggs before quickly retreating back into their dens. After watching the male Jaw fish care for the eggs, the divers then swam over to the wall where they were treated to tiny pipefish and trumpet fish. Many crabs and crustaceans were seen crawling all over the barrel sponges and fan corals.
The following morning we unhooked from The Amphitheater and headed over to West Caicos to a dive site called Magic Mushroom. The key feature of this site is Lobster Tower. It is a 7 foot tall coral encrusted rock that has a huge split down one side. There are always lobsters hanging out in the crack. After checking out the tower, divers swam around all the rocky coral outcroppings checking out the gorgonians for Flamingo Tongues and sexy shrimp. The macro shooters spent time photographing the corkscrew anemone full of Pederson Cleaners. After spending some time in the sand, the group headed over to the wall to inspect all the Barrel Sponges. Once there, they were fascinated by the soft corals flowing in the current. For the afternoon dive, the boat moved over one of the favorite dive sites of the crew. We pulled up to Gullies and could already see the reef sharks waiting for us to get there. As divers swam down into the many gullies and trenches that cut into the wall, they were surrounded by massive schools of wrasse and silver sides. Channel crabs were seen hanging on the walls and Pederson Cleaner shrimp were lining onto the corkscrew anemone. During the surface interval, dinner was consumed and everyone watched the amazing photo slideshow from the week. During the night dives, more bubbles were blown and an Octopus was spotted!
Tuesday Morning, we moved down to the southernmost site in West Caicos. We moored up at a site known as Spanish Anchor or White face. It is easy to spot from the sea as the cliff face in-front of the mooring has eroded away and left an almost perfect white face! Down in the open swim through on the wall, there is an old Spanish anchor that has supposedly been down there over 200 years and is almost completely encrusted with coral and sponges. It can be hard to spot but the keen-eyed diver will pick it out of the cavern wall. Massive schools of Creole Wrasses were seen all along the top of the wall. Down around the coral heads, you could spot green morays resting and French Angelfish chomping on the algae. During lunch, we had a long drive over to French Cay where we tied up at the G-Spot. There is an interesting feature to this wall that causes a slight vortex in the water column and it traps lots of nutrients for all sizes of organisms to eat. That allows for everything from the smallest of blennies and gobies to the very large Grey Reef Sharks and Nurse Sharks to be seen in a very small area. We were even lucky enough to see a hawks bill turtle and a juvenile spotted drum! The night dive made for some interesting encounters with some very curious nurse sharks. There were 3 nurse sharks that were very interested in what the divers were looking at and taking pictures of! During the safety stop, guests were treated to the hunting tactics of the schooling Bar and Black Jacks that hang out behind the boat.
Wednesday Morning, divers emerged from the depths of the ship to another wonderful breakfast. As the group finished up the morning meal, we cruised over to another amazing site called 1/2 Mile. Divers were amazed by all the gorgonians and Sea fans lining the top of the reef. As they swam along the reef, they were shown the way by reef sharks and even saw another turtle. After a couple of amazing dives, we moved to Rock N Roll, which is a combination of G spot and 1/2 mile. It is a pretty sharp wall but also has a lot of undulations and brings in a lot of amazing creatures. Someone even saw a Great Hammerhead this week!!!
On the second to last day of diving, we treated the divers to the last amazing dive site in West Caicos. First up was Elephant Ear Canyon. Divers were delighted to find loads of small nudibranchs and other tiny critters. The most sought after was the flapping dingbat!! It is a cute little bubble snail that is only about 1/4 inch long. Many were found and photographed. Again, divers were escorted around the reef by the ever present reef sharks and stingrays. After getting our fill of the little stuff, we moved over to The Dome. The site was originally made for a failed reality TV show, Pago Pago, where contestants had to dive down into a metal dome and collect objects. Imagine Mad Max Thunder dome but underwater!! The dome was covered in encrusting coral and loads of sponges. Schools of Schoolmasters could be found hiding in the shade of the structure but they would gladly move aside to allow entry into the dome itself. Once inside, divers were hunting all over for Secretary Blennies and more of the Yellow Head Jaw fish. Once out of the dome, the group headed over to the wall to check out the Barrel Sponges and plate coral that covered the top and sides of the wall. On the way, three spot Damsel fish could be seen tending their algae patch and Striped Parrot fish munching on the algae covered rocks.
For our last two dives of the week we moved around to Grace Bay. Pinnacles was our site choice and a rare chance to see fingerprint cyphoma, the infrequently found cousin to the flamingo tongue. Living only on slit pore sea rods the snails decimate their habitat before moving on to another. On this day we were fortunate enough to see two. Our final dive involved turtles and sharks and set everyone up for a relaxing afternoon at the marina.
As always, we hate to see the guests leave but hope to see them again in the future!!