Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
13 - 20 January 2018
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78° - 80°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Christy Weaver
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Clancy Temeyer
Photo Pro: JJ Di Matteo
Instructor: Kadri Kullerkupp
Tanya & Adam, Joyce & Rob, Monique & Glen, Dave, Mike & Jeff, Christina & Eric, Alain & Peter
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Stairway & The Dome, NWPT
Monday: Boat Cove & Magic Mushroom, West Caicos
Tuesday: Gullies & Brandywine, West Caicos
Wednesday: Spanish Anchor, West Caicos & Rock N Roll, French Cay
Thursday: G-Spot, French Cay
Our last dive charter before our trips to the Silver Bank and our guests boarded at Turtle Cove Marina, with stories of extreme cold weather back home. Some fared better at getting here than others but by 10pm all were onboard, having enjoyed one of Clancy’s great meals and were settled down for the night.
At first light we left the marina and headed out; our dive site for the morning being Stairway at Northwest Point. This site is particularly great for Caribbean spiny lobsters that congregate in groups of five or more at times. Up by the mooring line we saw schools of small barracuda, just hanging. A shark cruised by the group at the wall and a turtle passed the divers slowly.
At lunchtime we moved to The Dome. We enjoyed the wall prior to making our way back to the shallow sunk structure for the end of the dive. In the gorgonians we watched as neck crabs reached out for any food that might have floated past. Back at the Dome we enjoyed the grunts and snapper that call the structure home. The resident spotted moray was stretched out in its usual place, the metal structure from which the pearls were ejected when the dome formed part of the game show Pago Pago. We were also able to see the coral nursery close to the mooring where The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is growing staghorn and elkhorn coral. The night dive saw a reef shark circle the Dome and plenty of lobsters and crabs. The black lighters enjoyed a flounder that glowed orange together with fireworms and decorator crabs aplenty.
As we have a shorter charter this week we moved to West Caicos early on Monday morning to dive at Boat Cove and to everyone’s delight we saw a spotted eagle ray cruise along the wall straight into the dive. Our broad banded moray was hiding back in its hole with its friend the juvenile trunkfish that seemed quite comfortable hanging out with the eel. The Caribbean reef sharks circled low as a variety of jacks and snappers schooled in the upper water column. A hawksbill turtle spent a great deal of time with the guests close to the sand cut that is one of the main focuses for the site, providing great opportunity for photos and video.
We moved to Magic Mushroom for the afternoon and encountered sharks and stingrays. One large female stingray was clearly enjoying a foodie moment and was creating clouds of sand as she furrowed further. Some of the brown sponges were spawning and so we passed smoking sponges periodically along the wall. A turtle joined us briefly before heading over the wall and a peacock flounder sat on the sand on top of one of the ripples created by the water movement giving it a bit of contrast. On the night dive an octopus made an appearance for guests Mike and Jeff making it the first sighting of the week.
Tuesday morning to us to one of the crew’s favourite dive site – Gullies. A very large barracuda was topic of conversation post dive. The barracuda, a videographer and a guest in the gulley at the same time made for a tight fit. Our regular Caribbean sharks circled around the group, leaving to return a few minutes later as they made their rounds. A scorpionfish proved very photogenic when perched in the top of a vase sponge and seemed quite nonchalant to the attentions of the divers. Two slender filefish shared the gorgonian at the top of the gulley with three decorator crabs artfully disguised as algae or some such substance.
For the afternoon we went in search of the wandering anemone that frequents the southern side of this site – it did not disappoint and was out in full glory blue in ambient light, shocking pink under artificial light. An adult spotted drum created a great deal of interest. For the night dive, guest Rob completed his PADI Fluorescence Diver being able to enjoy the wandering anemone under blacklight, whilst the white lighters got to see a spotted moray devour a blue tang. Despite its size the eel was able to twist and crush its prey into more digestible pieces. Also under blacklight a yellow lined arrow crab gleamed orange and the long horn nudibranchs became easier to spot as they shone a variety of colours.
Wednesday morning had us preparing for French Cay and so we moved south to Spanish Anchor for the first part of the day. We enjoyed the anchor wedged into the gulley and everyone had their photograph taken with it, whether they saw it or not! This is a site where we have a good number of wire coral along the wall and finally, after what felt like examining every one, we found a single coral with seven wire coral shrimp, one of the smallest of them being particularly agile and vaulting over some of the bigger ones. Two large nurse sharks snoozed by a coral head, at, at least, seven feet it was a male and a female laying almost side by side. At the edge of the wall, a scorpionfish occupied a coral head with a small spotted moray.
And so we left for French Cay after the second dive, having called it a little earlier, our intention to dive at G-Spot with our loveable nurse sharks. They did not disappoint us, although they were fairly sleepy during the day dives. The reef sharks circled close and amongst the guests. In one coral head, guest Tanya found two juvenile spotted drums, a large channel clinging crab and a moray. Earlier in the previous dive she also spotted the tiniest yellow-headed jawfish – just a few millimetres in diameter. The night dive brought out the nurse sharks in force as they used our flashlights to hunt by. Our resident cubera snapper joined in the fun as the reef sharks cruised the outer perimeter. It was a great final night dive for the trip.
Our early morning dive at G-Spot continued that theme with the nurse sharks still out hunting, however by the second dive it felt like every nook large enough to hold a nurse shark had one in it, resting. We encountered a number of spotted morays peeking out from crevices and the whole time we could see a reef shark circling. It was whilst looking at one of the morays that we glanced back along the wall to see the majesty of a spotted eagle ray as it glided, effortlessly, along the edge of the wall. It was a great memory to take away for us, for the last dive in Turks & Caicos until April.
We headed back to Caicos Marina & Shipyard for a relaxing afternoon, where equipment is sorted out and dried and packed away with thoughts of the next time it would be used.
At the cocktail party we enjoyed wine, cheese and conversation and congratulated our continuing education students, Christina (Nitrox) & Rob (Fluorescence), our milestone diver, Jeff for 100 dives and our Iron Divers, Mike, Jeff and Tanya.
Guests Adam and Tanya are joining us for whales and so they will be with us when we cross to Puerto Plata and then on to the Silver Bank. Check in with us next week to see what great encounters our first whale charter delivers.