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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
July 13 – July 20 2019
Turks & Caicos Islands
Air temperature: 80° - 84° F
Water temperature: 82°F - 83°F
Visibility: 60 - 100 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Instructor: James Whittle
Stew: Deikie Quant
Teresa & Damon, Unaiz, Tim, Michele, Denise, Tyndall, Maryanne, Robin, Amanda, Zeynep
Our Dive Sites
Sunday: Eel Garden & The Dome - NWPT
Monday: Driveway & Boat Cove – West Caicos
Tuesday: Gullies, Magic Mushroom - West Caicos
Wednesday: Spanish Anchor – West Caicos & G-Spot – French Cay
Thursday: Elephant Ear Canyon - West Caicos, Amphitheatre - NWPT
Friday: Sharks Hotel- NWPT
Saturday afternoon brought about the next groups of guests ready to go on an adventure with us. With all the gear set up and the safety briefing complete we were making the boat ready to depart just before dinner to make it to the first dive site along the North West Point of Providenciales, Eel Garden. Enjoying dinner with the sun setting and the boat under way was a splendid way to kick off the week. Arriving at Eel Garden just after dinner ensured we were ready to dive as soon as morning come around.
With much excitement on the back deck the guests heard our briefing of what to see and where to go and just couldn’t wait to be in the water. One by one they filed into the water following our guide to give them the grand tour of our magnificent reef. Spotting some reef sharks along the wall always gets everyone excited for what else they may see. Finding a lobster in the wall climbing his way to the top gave us all a good look at how they move around and are able to get to such small holes in the wall. Underneath the boat in the expansive sand patch is where the dive site gets its name. Filled with garden eels feeding on the bit of nutrients floating by them, looking like tassels in a gentle breeze. Recently we have also been seeing an abundance of head shield slugs in the sand patch alongside the eels.
Moving on to the sext site just north of eel garden brings us to The Dome. This is where we had our 2 afternoon dives and the night dive. The journey to the dome takes us along the wall to a large chimney type feature in the wall that is filled with macro life and interesting corals. Along the wall to the chimney there are many wire corals jutting from the wall and provide us a great opportunity to look out for the wire coral shrimp the are very elusive and shy. Some guests tried to get pictures but between them being so small and constantly hiding on the other side of the wire coral they did not have an easy time. Swimming along the top of the wall we make it to our turning point to find the boat and the dome, on the misshapen rock we found 2 decorator crabs hiding from the gentle current on the back side of a gorgonian fan. Following the corals path up to the dome is a slow build up to the final destination. Hovering inside the dome filling most of the areas along the edges viewing all the divers as they come by and prepare to enter the dome and view its splendor. To our surprise there was a rather large Cubera snapper inside the dome this time just chilling as we all swam through taking in the sights. Just past the dome we made it to the coral ladders growing some Staghorn and Elkhorn corals to start re building the reefs. Around these ladders there were 2 small reef squid and a very reclusive slender filefish hiding amongst the growing corals. The night dive had the entire dome covered with channel clinging crabs both inside and out. A free swimming moray eel leaving the dome and heading to the nearby coral as we were leaving the dome was a nice way to end the first days diving.
Moving over night we made the crossing to West Caicos to continue the adventure. Staring off at Driveway, featuring the prominent driveway that cuts through the wall giving a memorable reference point for the boat. With sharks swimming along the wall and under the boat waiting for the divers to enjoy their company. A turtle found his way into our group as we made our way along the wall looking at the wire coral shrimp and lobsters on the wall. A few lionfish were spotted deeper along the wall resting upside down under a plate coral that jutted out from the wall.
Without needing to move very far we arrived at the new dive site called Boat Cove, more from the feature along the shore line than as a point of interest under water. Going for a more macro dive, we found loads of smaller life along the reef. Plenty of blennies to be found along the corals both along and on top of the walls. Decorator crabs clinging to the sea plumes reaching for food and a slender file fish trying its best not to be seen by the local fish swimming around it.
Watching Sully swim thought the Gully is always an interesting site, especially if there is a diver trying to swim though and look at the corals and juvenile spotted drum in the Gully. With the usual array of life flowing from the reef on the morning dives as the wall wakes up is a site to see. The creole wrasse cascading down the wall in large schools making it look like an underwater waterfall. As per the norm along West Caicos we see the sharks along the walls and on the reef doing their thing and checking out the new company. There were plenty of yellowhead jawfish in the sand under the boat and near the mooring pin, none had any eggs that we could see unfortunately so we shall continue the search for them.
To another dive site named for its shore line appearance, Magic Mushroom. Home to the lobster tower and the ever so elusive juvenile trunkfish hiding in the cracks along the tower. Snapper and grunts were circling the base of the tower and under some nearby coral overhangs. At the top of the tower there was a Damsel fish protecting his eggs that were stuck to the rock face and charging anyone who would get to close, be it fish of human. The large smiling barrel sponge along the wall gives a friendly welcome to the wall and a helpful reminder to find the boat upon the return. The sloping wall is home to many more nooks and crannies to hid in due to the different topology and coral growth. It also makes a great place for lobsters and crabs to walk around and find new places to feed and hide.
Wednesday began with a run down to our southernmost dive site along West Caicos, Spanish Anchor. The site is known for the swimthrough with a massive anchor wedged in the top dating back from the age of sail. The wall here is stunning as well, and we saw a big beautiful spotted drum just outside of the swimthrough as well as numerous spotted morays. One unique feature of our dives today was the numerous ocean triggerfish that were breeding and nesting. Pairs of fish could be spotted hovering defensively over their egg patches in the sand ready to protect against hungry bluehead wrasse, damselfish, and even other triggers! Over lunchtime, we made the transit out to the East to French Cay, and along the way we were lucky enough to have a brief sighting of a whale blowing close to the boat! We never got a good enough look to be sure of species, but it was most likely a sperm whale, a rarity for these waters. Our afternoon was spent at G-Spot, just off French Cay. Here, we had some wonderful encounters with both reef and nurse sharks throughout the day and a lucky few divers had a very up close and personal encounter with a turtle that lasted for almost twenty minutes! The night dive is really what makes this site special, as the nurse sharks and reef sharks all come out to hunt and the divers barely have to leave the lights of the boat to be surrounded by nurse and reef sharks looking for their nightly meal. Tonight was an exceptionally energetic night and a several divers were sitting in the sand and had nurse sharks swim between their legs!
After the night dive, the wind was beginning to build again, so we made our way back to the protection of West Caicos where we spent Thursday morning. Our last site along West Caicos was Elephant Ear Canyon, the most northerly dive site along the island. Definitely a unique site, it is always a delight for macro lovers. The sand beneath the boat is a wonderful spot to roam and seek out the small stuff. This time of year, the headshield slugs are out in abundance, as they are in the midst of mating and laying eggs. The leech aglaja are particularly striking with their bright orange and blue stripes and can often be found climbing stalks of eel grass. The big excitement was one of the guests finding a short-nose batfish, a rare sighting for these parts. While Sarah grilled up a delicious meal, we transited back to Northwest Point, where we finished off the day at Amphitheater. Here, the wall has a big scoop out of it that makes for a fun, almost cavern-like feel. Along the wall, there were two particularly energetic female reef sharks, which appeared to be actively hunting and put on quite a show for the divers. Even more excitement awaited on top off the wall, where the sand and rubble is home to many yellow-headed jawfish, a couple off whom were holding eggs!
We started off our last morning with a dawn dive at shark’s hotel, just to the north of amphitheater, where the top of the wall is home to some lovely schools of grunts and quite a few scattered cleaning stations. Along the wall, the nooks and crannies often hide a very healthy population of both hairy and channel clinging crabs along with the ever present spiny lobsters. For our second dive, the sharks made their appearance and kept the group company for almost the whole dive. On top of that, we had a visit from our friendly Nassau grouper, who always seems to want to pose for photos. And just like that another great week of diving is done, and we celebrate the week of diving in true Aggressor fashion with a cheese and wine party on the sundeck.