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October 2021    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 36, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Belize Aggressor IV, Belize

Easy concierge diving, with sharks galore

from the October, 2021 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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I'm not a morning person but at 5:54 a.m. I was awake. After all, it's was a dive day! My large cabin window on the Belize Aggressor IV looked out on a calm sea and fluffy clouds in early-morning hues of blue-grays and whites. A morning Diet Coke had been delivered to my door for me, and there was steaming hot coffee for my assigned roommate. And then off to a Continental breakfast, a dive, then a full breakfast.

Belize Aggressor IVI arrived as a single diver, and during our checkout dive, I found myself diving with an experienced group. During the week, everyone's situational awareness was outstanding. There were few buoyancy incidents, no drama around sharing photographic subjects, and I got bumped only a few times during night dives. Most divers went at a leisurely pace and chose to stick between 50 and 80 feet. (The Aggressor crew asked that we keep most dives under 100 feet.) Best of all, my roommate turned out to be an excellent buddy, and we asked another single diver to join us.

A few weeks before the trip began, the coronavirus Delta variant had reached the U.S., and I seriously considered canceling. The Aggressor folks thought they could resell my cabin and offer me a different date. However, I soon decided I'd overreacted and even booked a second consecutive week! And am I glad I did.

I made 20 dives in September's 86 water the first week, with my favorites at Tarpon Cave. On the first, after a swim over turtle grass at 45 feet, we headed along the wall. At 75-feet, friendly four to five-foot blacktip reef sharks mingled with the divers, and eagle rays came by at close range. I spotted a pair of French angels to shoot but got photobombed by a prima donna Nassau grouper, which took off as I adjusted to take his photo. Horse-eye jacks spun like a tornado and stuck around with some divers for the entire dive. As I surveyed the shallow part of the reef, approximately 80% of common sea fans seemed to have damage. The health of the corals and sponges seemed to be better on the walls than in the shallows. There were plenty of barrel sponges, tube sponges, and strawberry and azure vase sponges. Yellow crinoids peeked out from ledges along with club tip anemones and pretty branching anemones. I saw a variety of corals, including cactus, brain, leaf, sheet, boulder, black, and cup coral....

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