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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
May 25 – June 01, 2019
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 79° - 86° F
Water temperature: 82°F
Visibility: 50 - 100 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Alex Brett
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: James Whittle
Divemaster: Gary Dunne
Instructor: Luis Peralta
John, Jeff, John, Jennifer & Justin, BJ & Therese, Allen & Kathy, Erica, George, Matt, Chris, Scott & Holly, Ian, Glen
Sunday: Eel Garden & Amphitheater, NW Point
Monday: Gullies & Magic Mushroom, West Caicos
Tuesday: Spanish Anchor, West Caicos & G-Spot, French Cay
Wednesday: Brandywine & Boat Cove, West Caicos
Thursday: Elephant Ear Canyon, West Caicos & The Dome, NW Point
Friday: Pinnacles, Grace Bay
Our week began at Eel Garden, where the dives started off with a bang. Reef sharks and turtles were everywhere, and of course the garden eels were all over. The site also boasts many other eel species as well, and we were lucky enough to see spotted and green morays as well as several large, friendly Nassau grouper.
For our afternoon, we shifted up a short ways to Amphitheater, where once again, the reef sharks were curious to investigate the bubble blowing intruders into their realm. On top of the, we had two HUGE nurse sharks taking a nice nap down in a couple shelfs on the wall just South of the amphitheater. The day was great, but Amphitheater is positively stunning as a night dive. Two different species of nudibranchs, big channel crabs, banded coral shrimp, and a juvenile trumpetfish that everyone really wanted to be a pipefish. Basking in the glow of a fantastic first night dive, we made the crossing over to West Caicos that night.
We started our first day off West Caicos with a pair of dives at Gullies. The site boasts a fun swim through, lots of interesting macro life, and lots of inquisitive reef sharks. By the end of the dive, the reef sharks were circling the divers right at level with the hang bar, giving everyone a great chance to get an up close look at them! Over lunch, we headed South to Magic Mushroom where we would spend the afternoon and night. The shallows and wall here are both beautiful, but one of the more prominent features is a towering coral head just south of the mooring pin that we call the lobster hotel. Today there were a couple lobsters in residence, but the real draw was the adorable juvenile trunkfish that flitted around the top of the tower. About the size of a cherry tomato, this cute little fish has been hanging around the tower for a couple weeks now. The last few weeks, we have had a damselfish guarding his eggs at the top of the tower, but this week they had all hatched!
As the middle of the weeks rolls in, we head all the way to the South end of West Caicos to Spanish Anchor. The site is named after a huge anchor stuck in the top of a swim-through, but the site has so much more to offer than that. The wall here is a dramatic drop off into the abyss and the top of the wall is full of interesting critters, including spotted morays, green morays, and the occasional scorpionfish. After a slightly earlier 2nd dive, we made our way East out to French Cay. The weather gave us a short window to head out to the unprotected waters of French, so we jumped at the chance. We dove the afternoon at G-Spot, and it did not disappoint. Between a very friendly turtle, an elusive eagle ray, and the always charming cherubfish, it was definitely a memorable pair of dives. Of course, the night dive here is truly unique. The healthy population of nurse and reef sharks are out hunting every night and our divers were right in the thick of it. Often, people think of nurse sharks as being a little on the boring side, as they are usually to be found napping under a ledge somewhere, but after a night dive at French, it’s hard to see them as anything, but the aggressive, powerful fish that they are.
Overnight, some unexpected weather rolled in, so we headed back to West Caicos a little early and woke up at a site called Brandywine. Here, the sloping wall is decorated with numerous large barrel sponges that provide excellent photo opportunities. Down around 70’ there is also a giant (species, not size) anemone that is always a fun point to visit on our dives. The many ledges and coral heads provide excellent habitat for scorpionfish, and this week one guest actually managed to spot one while floating at the hang bar! Definitely an impressive sighting. Over lunch, we moved up the coast to Boat Cove, where the sandy flats below the boat are home to many peacock flounder, southern stingrays, and massive hermit crabs. The site made for an excellent night dive, with sightings of octopus, squid, and several long-horn nudibranchs.
The next morning, we bid farewell to West Caicos with a pair of dives at Elephant Ear Canyon. A very unique site with many fascinating macro critters hiding in patches of eelgrass in the sand under the boat. This week in particular we spent much of both dives exploring the small collection of coral heads just North of the mooring pin. Though it is but a small area, there is a ton of life packed into it. Three different giant anemones, numerous corkscrew anemones, at least four species of shrimp, a big school of grunts, and even a purplemouth moray! While we feasted on another hearty meal from chef Chace, we made our way back to Northwest Point. For the afternoon of the last day, we dove away the hours at The Dome, an underwater structure left over from a French reality TV show. The structure has been remodeled slightly, but is now home to many species of schoolmasters, grunts, and even a couple of Atlantic spadefish this week!
Friday morning we had an early tide to catch, so we started our day off with a nice dawn dive at Pinnacles in Grace Bay. With the shallow waters of Pinnacles, we made a looong dive to finish off the trip. The waters around Grace Bay are very different than the other locations where we have spent our time this trip, and our guests enjoyed the rich soft corals and numerous flamingo tongues and other fascinating critters that Pinnacles has to offer. All too soon, the tide was falling and we had to head back in to Turtle Cove. As the saying goes “Time and tide wait for no man”.
To wrap up another wonderful week, we bid farewell to the fantastic group of California Divers with a wine and cheese party on the sundeck. Many awards were given and toasts were made, and we bid farewell to yet another great new group of friends.