4 – 9 May, 2014
Air Temperatures – Mid to high 80’s F
Water Temperature – 82 F
Underwater Visibility – 60’ to 80’ (depending on dive site).
A gentle northerly wind passed through at the beginning of the week, and switched over to an easterly picking up at 10 – 20 knots by Wednesday, and continued through the rest of the week. Hazy to partly cloudy conditions were present all week, with very few scattered showers.
Diving took place from Sunday through Friday, doing three dives a day including a night dive done on Wednesday, all with Dive Master Denroy as Boat Capt, and Dive Master John as Dive Guide for the week. Due to the northerly breeze at the beginning of the week, the northeast side of the atoll was chosen for diving on the first day, and dive sites on the southeast were utilized on day two. The Lighthouse Reef & Blue Hole trip was scheduled for day three on Tuesday as light winds offered calm surface conditions for this crossing. The following three days were spent diving on the western side of the atoll, working areas to the northwest and down the southwest for these days, staying on the leeward side of the atoll with these strong easterly winds.
Apart from the usual array of colourful reef fish, stunning variety of sponges, hard and soft corals that are always seen around Turneffe and Lighthouse atolls, Spotted Eagle Rays and Hawksbill Turtles are seen quite often. Some note-worthy sightings at Turneffe for the week were two large Green Moray Eels battling it out for territorial rights, and three White Spotted Toadfish were also found in coral crevices. Two massive male Loggerhead Turtles were observed on separate dives, one of which was being tailed by a 3-foot Cobia, and the other was an animal Dive Masters are used to seeing each year named “Barnacle Bill”, due to the numerous large barnacles growing on his shell. These animals have returned to the area as expected for their mating season in the Spring. And, indeed, a pair of Loggerhead Turtles was seen on the surface in the act by the Boat Captain on the same day. At the Blue Hole, three sleek, 6-foot Caribbean Reef Sharks gave divers a good view coming in close from out of the deep.
The main highlight was underwater Manatee sightings on the western side of Turneffe. Two individuals were seen swimming by, one behind the other. They made three passes over the divers’ heads during the course of the dive as if they were curious about us. We see dolphins underwater here much more frequently than Manatee; this was truly a special treat for the divers. Belize has a relatively healthy population of these marine mammals, although they are considered endangered, and are protected here in Belize.