11 – 13 May, 2014
Air Temperatures – Mid 80’s
Water Temperature – 82F
Water Visibility – 60’ – 80’ (depending on dive site)
The week started out on Sunday with 20-knot easterly winds, and switched to a northerly on Wednesday through Saturday blowing at 10 – 15 knots. Sunny conditions prevailed at the beginning of the week and changed to passing showers accompanying the northerly at the end of the week.
Our Boat Captain for three days of diving was Divemaster Denroy, and Dive Instructor Anne-Marie was the dive guide. Divers planned on only three days of diving as they had organized to spend a few days at the end of their week exploring the rain forest and caves in the Cayo District of Belize.
Strong easterly winds and an outgoing tide made our choice of diving the northwestern side of the atoll the best bet for the best visibility for the first 2 days of diving. Interesting sightings began at Chasbow’s Corner on the first day when a huge Spotted Eagle Ray adorned with Remoras swam up the wall at close range, and several feet below it a 4-foot Cobia followed along cautiously hanging several feet below along the wall. Also of interest, and quite annoying, were two large Remoras that started following the divers from the beginning of the first dive. They multiplied to three for dive two, then numbered five by the end of dive three, and had obviously followed the boat from Elkin’s Bay to Chasbow’s Corner. During the course of the three dives, they came up to divers nipping at cameras and lanyards, tugging on pony tails, and tasting divers’ legs and hands. Although their teeth are more like sandpaper, they were still able to give an abrasive bite which leaves a bit of a red welt. This was altogether, a most unusual occurrence. With some measure of caution, divers observed a number of Red-Spotted Siphonophores in the water column at about 10 to 30 feet below the surface. These Cnidarians can produce an intense sting that, thank goodness, does not last long.
On the divers’ third and last day, Tuesday, heavy easterly winds rendered surface conditions that prevented us from going to Lighthouse Reef and the Blue Hole. As a consolation, we visited the Elbow and dived there in 5’ to 6’ seas. Dive sites to the southwest of the atoll were chosen for the last 2 dives. At the Elbow there was a gentle southerly current at barely a half knot, as the tide was just starting to go out. Schools of Rainbow Runners darted by, and a number of Cubera, Dog and Mutton Snapper were scattered loosely around the towering coral spurs. A Green Moray Eel followed a chunky Black Grouper off the side of the wall, while two large King Fish swam high in the water column on the hunt just below the surface. A Hawksbill Turtle swam slowly up and over one of the coral spurs giving the photographers plenty of opportunity for good shots. A total of eight Spotted Eagle Rays were seen throughout the dive swimming alone, in pairs, and then in a threesome. Permit were observed schooling near the surface as Creole Wrasse seemed to fill the water column. A school large of Dog Snapper accompanied by a dozen or so Atlantic Spade Fish showed up as divers headed for a safety stop.
Divers had a great three days of diving, coming away with some good photos and videos, many more dive sites to visit, and good reasons to plan a return trip.