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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
May 18 -25 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: Sarah Pearson
Photo Pro: James Whittle
Divemaster: Gary Dunne
Instructor: Jay Lightbourne
Mark, Kyle, Rhett, Richard & Brenda, Dan, Pierre, Jo & Ron, Laurice & Chuck
Sunday: Eel Garden & The Dome, NW Point
Monday: Gullies & Magic Mushroom, West Caicos
Tuesday: Driveway, West Caicos & G-Spot, French Cay
Wednesday: Rock & Roll, French Cay & Brandywine, West Caicos
Thursday: Elephant Ear Canyon, West Caicos & Amphitheater, NW Point
Friday: Shark’s Hotel, NW Point
Our week started off with an evening departure from Turtle Cove Marina. Our new group of friends feasted on one of Chef Chace’s fine meals while we made our way slowly out of Sellar’s Cut and let the resorts and hubbub of Grace Bay behind us.
After being introduced to the spacious dive deck, we made our first dive of the week at Eel Garden where right off the bat our group was treated to a series of close encounters with a pair of inquisitive reef sharks. On top of that, several spotted morays were sighted swimming out in the open, a rare occurrence for a creature usually found lurking in crevices. For the afternoon, we made our way along to The Dome, a site characterized by a dome structure left over from a late 80’s French reality tv show. The structure was remodeled by hurricane, so it no longer stands complete, but it still provides a home for many schoolmasters and other school of fishes. After a thrilling night dive, we made the crossing down to West Caicos where many more dive sites awaited us.
For our first dive at West Caicos, we started at Gullies, a site known for excellent shark encounters. Today was no exception as for both dives we were treated to several male reef sharks circling amongst all the divers providing many excellent photo opportunities. The big stuff didn’t hog all the attention though, Gullies is also home to some really fantastic macro life. Several coral heads near the eponymous gully are home to a few of the elusive, but stunningly beautiful gaudy clown crabs, and the gorgonians along the wall provide refuge for slender filefish, decorator crabs, and even a few hamner’s tritonia. The afternoon we made our way towards the South end of the island to Magic Mushroom. The shallows here are stunning and the sandy expanses provide plenty of opportunities for spotting peacock flounder and other sneaky sand dwellers. One of the more prominent features at this site is the huge coral head just South of the mooring pin that we call Lobster Tower. Now, the lobsters aren’t always at home, but today they were there in force. Five lobsters were crammed so tightly into a crack on the side of the tower, it was hard to tell where one lobster started and another ended! The tower has also recently been home to a couple of juvenile trunkfish, which are always an entertaining site.
Tuesday started off with a move further South to Driveway. Here the wall is cut by a huge sand chute that makes for some lovely photo opportunities. On top of that, in the center of the chute, there is a prominent coral head with a very photogenic anemone sitting right in the center. The walls here are steep and dramatic and the sharks and turtles were out in force, making for a memorable pair of dives. Over lunchtime we made the transit off to the East to French Cay to enjoy the glass calm waters. We spent the afternoon enjoying the idyllic waters at G-Spot. Both reef and nurse sharks were plentiful, and the waters under the boat were thick with schools of creole wrasse flitting around the top of the wall. Further up off the wall, there were several beautiful juvenile spotted drums that held everyone’s attention until before we knew it the dive was over and it was time for dinner. After another of Chef Chace’s delicious meals, a brace few headed in for the night dive. Here at G-Spot, the night dive is particularly special as the nurse sharks and reef sharks are all out hunting. Tonight was no exception. The sharks were out in force and
On Wednesday, we woke to another beautiful sunrise off French Cay and made our way just a short distance along to Rock & Roll, our final dive site out here at French. With flat calm water and bright sunshine, we had a spectacular morning of diving here. The resident sharks were out in force, and the rubble patches beneath the boat were filled with the shy, but beautiful, yellow-headed jawfish. A couple of the guests were enough lucky enough to sight a passing bottle-nosed dolphin! Over lunch we made our way back to West Caicos, where we spent our afternoon at Brandywine. A beautiful site, Brandywine is home to a delightful array of barrel sponges, some of which are said to resemble brandy snifters. The wall here has a strong slope to it, and today we had spotted several turtles making their way up and down in search of tasty sponges to munch on. One of the highlights of the wall here is a beautiful pink giant anemone down around 75’ that offers some excellent photo opportunities.
For our last dive site on West Caicos, we started Thursday at Elephant Ear Canyon. One of the more unique sites we have, the wall here is positively stunning, but the real attraction is up in the sand. Underneath the boat is a wide expanse of sand that slowly fades into eelgrass as you head North, and that is where the mystery lies. For fans of macro life, there is no better spot than Elephant Ear. We had such a good time looking for little critters that we actually never made it out to the wall on the second dive! All manner of cool critters made an appearance, including yellow-throated pike blennies, arrow shrimp, leach aglaja, and other head shield slugs! Over lunch, we began our leisurely steam back in the direction of Provo. Once reaching Northwest Point, we dove the afternoon away at Amphitheater. Always a favorite, the site had much to offer today. Yellow-headed jawfish were in abundance, though only one was spotted with eggs. Several of the gorgonians along the wall were home to Hamner’s tritonia, a nudibranch with expert camouflage. Of course, our friendly reef sharks were in abundance and continued entertaining the divers throughout the course of the night dive.
To wrap up the trip, we did two early dives at Shark’s Hotel, just North from Amphitheater. One of favorite residents here is a big Nassau grouper that always seems happy to see our guests and is always happy to pose for a picture. The wall here is often full of lobsters and crabs, and has many hidey holes perfect for morays and other elusive creatures. With our diving done for the week, we headed back to Turtle Cove Marina, where we wound down the evening with a wine & cheese party to celebrate another wonderful week of diving in Turks & Caicos!