Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
25 June - 02 July 2016
Air Temperature: 80° - 90°F
Water Temperature: 81° - 86°F
Visibility: 40 - 120 feet
Recommended Exposure Suit: Skin to 3mil Shorty
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Video Pro: TROY SANDY
Chef: MATT CRAWFORD
Instructor: GRANT PATTEN
Sunday - Amphitheater & The Dome - Northwest Point
Monday - G - Spot & Rock N Roll - French Cay
Tuesday - Spanish Anchor & Magic Mushroom - West Caicos
Wednesday - Boat Cove & Gullies - West Caicos
Thursday - Driveway - West Caicos & Eel Garden - Northwest Point
Friday - Sharks Hotel - Northwest Point
Due to Mother Nature and her tide schedule, the main vessel had to pull off the dock before the guests arrived. But we have our trusty tender to ferry everyone out to the ship. As Troy and Grant transport all the guests from Tiki Hut, a local restaurant, to the Turks and Caicos Aggressor, Chef Matt starts to cook his amazing pork tenderloin dinner. Once everyone was onboard, Captain Amanda started the safety briefing and informed everyone about the upcoming week. The special item about this week was a major engine service one the dartboard engine. This meant we would be running on one motor all week, but that has no effect on the diving or the time schedule.
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 Black Forest, aka The Amphitheater. 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-headed jawfish 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 jawfish care for the eggs, the divers then swam over to the wall where they were treated to tiny pipefish and trumpetfish. Many crabs and crustaceans were seen crawling all over the barrel sponges and fan corals. During lunch we moved over to The Dome. A structure left behind from a French game show back in the 80’s called “Pago Pago”. Now this structure is covered with hard coral, soft corals and an array of marine life. Also near by is a wall covered with colorful corals and sponges. We started on the deepest part of the dive, near the wall. That’s where we saw a couple of large Channel Clinging Crabs. Two Nassau Groupers facing each other getting ready for something, we were not sure what. A free swimming Spotted Moray Eel. In the shallow waters near the Dome area, lots of Secretary Blenny looking at you with their big eyes. Swimming through the structure of the Dome we were able to see lots of Caribbean spiny lobsters. A few of the divers ventured off to a coral ledge at found a common octopus. After the night dive, the engines roared to life and we moved to West Caicos for a quick sleep then off to French Cay for the next day.
Monday morning, we pulled up to G - Spot in French Cay. G-Spot opened the day and proved to be an amazing two dives. Juvenile reef sharks flitted about the reef, moving swiftly, acting like sharks and other wise acting like they had something to prove, being the new guy on the reef. Meanwhile, two curious nurse sharks dug into the reef as divers snapped photos of a hawksbill turtle nibbling on some lunch. Wanting to know what all the commotion was about, the nurse sharks came over, making themselves comfortable in the small space between photographer and sand. At one point, they bumped up against Troy’s camera numerous times. Finding nothing they were interested in, the sharks moved along and found a cozy patch to snooze on, leaving the divers and turtle to their own devices. Moving at lunch to Rock N Roll, this site is amazing for the coral life on the top of the wall and the large animals found all over this site. After a fun relaxed dive, divers were back on board talking about attractive blue damsels, colorful parrotfish, large lionfish and yellow-headed jawfish. Of course, a popular sighting at all dive sites around Turks and Caicos were the Caribbean Reef Sharks.
By Tuesday morning we were back at West Caicos to avoid the mounting wind. We were moored up at a site known as Spanish Anchor or Whiteface. 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 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. Right before the afternoon dives, we moored up at 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 lobster 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.
The divers awoke Wednesday at a beautiful site called Boat Cove. As divers made their way down to the site, they were greeted by the reef sharks and Horse Eyed Jacks. On the bottom, the schooling fish were everywhere. They saw creole, yellowhead, and bluehead wrasse; Fairy Basslets were peeking out from under coral heads, and the Blue Chromis were feeding just above the reef. 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 silversides. Channel crabs were seen hanging on the walls and Pederson Cleaner shrimp were lining onto the corkscrew anemone. It seemed like this was the week for turtles because another ne was spotted during the day and the night dives!
Two reef sharks greeted us as we splashed into Driveway Thursday morning. Both the Caribbean Lobster and Spiny Lobster meandered over the rocky bottom. Even a juvenile Spotted Drum fish flittered back and forth, late for yet another meeting. During Lunch, we moved back to Provo and pulled up to Eel Garden. 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 Matt’s amazing turkey dinner before the last night dive.
Friday morning, we moved over to Sharks Hotel. As divers jumped in, they crossed their fingers for a shark and were not disappointed. There were 2 sharks swimming around and waiting for them. Once up from the second dive of swimming with sharks, we stayed for lunch then moved back to the marina in Turtle Cove and got ready for the Wine and Cheese Party.