Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
6 – 13 January 2018
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78° - 79°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm Wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Christy Weaver
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Clancy Temeyer
Photo Pro: JJ Di Matteo
Instructor: Kadri Kullerkupp
Kristin & Andy, Kirsten & Fernando, Carol & Mike, Gwen, Antonia, Dodie, Deedee & Steve, John, Tom, Kathy, Kristy, Chad & Ronnie
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Caicos Marina & Shipyard
Monday: Caicos Marina & Shipyard & Magic Mushroom, West Caicos
Tuesday: Spanish Anchor & Boat Cove, West Caicos
Wednesday: Gullies & Brandywine, West Caicos
Thursday: Brandywine, West Caicos, The Dome & Amphitheatre, NWPT
Friday: Amphitheatre & Shark’s Hotel, NWPT
Last week’s charter ended on the south side of Providenciales, in Caicos Marina & Shipyard, as a result of a cold front that persisted through the beginning of our charter this week. So as our guests boarded the vessel they were greeted with the news that we would not be leaving the dock until Monday lunchtime. Everyone took this in their stride by supper time new friendships were being forged and we could tell it was going to be a fun dock day on Monday.
And so it was. As the wind howled and the rain poured our guests set up camera equipment, completed continuing education, partook of a little shopping onboard and played games. By Monday when we were due to leave, we had briefed all the guests on all they needed to know about the back deck and how to model underwater.
Everyone was very happy to get in to the water at Magic Mushroom, and although we did not make it to lobster tower we did see some lobster out and about. There was some question about who was leading the dive – Divemaster Rob, or the hawksbill turtle that stayed with the group for a while. A lone Caribbean reef shark circled the group and took off, and left the guests to their turtle. The night dive saw lobster marching across the sand and a large measled cowrie under a coral head; mantle fully engaged. Stingrays searched the sand for food and large channel clinging crabs ripped sponges apart for their supper.
We moved south to Spanish Anchor for the following morning and all took the opportunity to swim through the gulley there in which the three hundred year old Spanish anchor is embedded. Creole wrasse cascaded over the edge of the wall whilst the tiny wire coral shrimp ran the length of the coral after which they are named. As we turned to return to the boat and enormous school of blue tang swarmed past stopping momentarily to feed on a coral head before moving en masse to another and then along the reef. As they did this many of them turned from a pale blue colour to a very deep blue. A reef shark circled in the distance, but one of the highlights for the dive was a common octopus out and about in the daytime. Finally finding a resting spot under a coral head, it would venture out a little, change from browns to greens to white, and then adjust itself before settling again.
For our afternoon dive we moved back north to Boat Cove. The jacks and snappers were prevalent under the boat. In our favourite coral head we saw our broad banded moray hanging out with a juvenile spotted trunkfish, which has been there for the past few weeks and does not appear to be getting any bigger. In the gorgonian to the side a neck crab waited for a passing morsel of food. The night dive took us back to the same coral head to see the same animals in the light of night, and in this instance our broad banded moray had been joined by a spotted moray. The black light illuminated trapania on the barrel sponges along with long horn nudibranchs. Neck crabs glowed eerily red; their eyes lit like fire and in the sand small white mantis shrimp shone green, with their eyes rotating like little radar dishes.
We made an early move, the short distance, to Gullies for the afternoon and a morning amongst the sharks. Four Caribbean reef sharks cruised in and amongst the guests as they hovered above the gulley. A hawksbill turtle hung out with the guests for a short while and the juvenile spotted drum that we saw for the first time last week, graced us with its presence once again; swimming in its little figure eight, just by the swim through.
In the gorgonian at the edge of the wall, we saw the hamner’s tritonia nudibranch with its line of eggs together with a number of decorator crabs; in the form of neck crabs.
Brandywine was our choice for the afternoon and we enjoyed more reef shark activity with the possible bonus of a lemon shark out in the distance. Our wandering anemone was out in all its glory; glowing shocking pink under artificial light, blue under ambient light. Amongst the coral heads a lizardfish sat motionless, back arched and ready for flight as well as a very small lionfish eyeing up potential prey to help it grow into one of the monster lionfish that we experience here. The night dive proved spectacular again for the blacklighters with trapania and longhorn nudibranchs as well as an elegant anemone and a coralimorphs of the warty and orange ball variety.
A slight mishap with a camera during the night dive, kept us at Brandywine for one dive in the morning with a successful resolution as well as some shark activity and marching lobsters.
To the northwest point of Providenciales we headed after the first dive to check out The Dome. We enjoyed two dives at this site, seeing the grunts and snappers under the protection of the framework, whilst the centre tubes held a spotted moray, stretched out to full length and a hairy clinging crab, feeding off the algae growing on the inside. At the wall we enjoyed a fingerprint cyphoma living side by side with a flamingo tongue, making comparison easy. Anemones sported a variety of shrimp – Pederson, squat anemone and sun anemone. At the Dome four white spotted filefish circled the frame, whilst the blennies used abandoned wormholes to reside in.
Our late afternoon and night dive was at Amphitheatre. The jawfish were out in force, one male with eggs that he aerated a couple of times by spitting them out in a split second. Neck crabs occupied the gorgonians and were present for afternoon and night, as well as a large cubera snapper. The night dive revealed banded coral shrimp with eggs at the wall and close by a decorator crab ornamented with algae leaves. Sculptured slipper lobster crawled across the reef, whilst their bashful cousins the spotted and banded lobster preferred the holes in the reef. Not the Caribbean spiny lobster, however, they continued to march.
A dawn dive at Amphitheatre saw the end of the night shift with the crabs and lobsters still out and about. Our last dives of the charter were at Shark’s Hotel. Under the boat a small area teamed with fish life. Blue striped & French grunt schooled in large numbers and seemed comfortable to allow photographers and videographers close. Along the edge of the wall streams of Creole wrasse cascaded over, attracted occasionally by a juvenile hogfish that offers their services to freshen them up. Along the wall, a very pretty juvenile spotted drum danced against brilliant red and orange encrusting sponges. An enormous barracuda hung nose down ready to pounce on some unsuspecting prey. A school of Atlantic spadefish joined us for a short while, swimming amongst the coral heads and then drifting up into the water column.
A great week with outstanding guests, who took the weather conditions in to their stride and made it a part of their charter. Much fun was had by all – including the crew! Congratulations to our one Iron diver – Antonia, who completed all twenty dives this week. Also congratulations to Roni and Kristy who completed their 200th dives with us.
There is just one more week until our whale season begins. We are all very excited about the coming season, but also looking forward to what Turks & Caicos has to offer this week, that will have us equally excited to return in April. Check in with us next week to see.