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Dive report from the Keys
ChuckP - 6/13/2009 10:11 AM
Category: Travel
Replies: 0

Greetings, all -

I’ve been on some great dive trips over the past few weeks and thought I’d report in as to what’s happening where. For those who missed my ad a while back, I’ve recently opened a very cool dive boat business serving the upper and middle reefs. At least two of the recent trips included a forum member + buddies and/or wives.

Due to a variety of factors (salinity, temperature, sunlight, gulf stream, etc), the coral beds ’bloom’ at different times, if at all. Some years certain reefs bloom and others don’t. Some years none of them do and some years they’re all in wild display. This year, it appears that the northern reefs (Elbow, Dry Rocks, Grecian) are on the downswing. One person called Dry Rocks "disappointing" and someone else referred to the area as "Dullsville, baby."

At the moment, the hot spots appear to be the area around French and Molasses. Molasses is generally considered one of the crown jewels. It’s big and diverse, running from a mere 10’ deep to over 100’, so there’s something there to interest everybody.

Once you’ve done Molasses, though, I’d be making a beeline for French Reef. The swim-through caves are a blast, and while the reef looks like a mere continuation of Molasses on the map, it’s really a whole ’nother kettle of fish (so to speak). The various sea critters who hang out around caves are quite different than the usual open reef gang.

One of my favorite off-the-beaten-path spots, Hens & Chickens, has gotten mixed reviews. One guy said he wasn’t particularly impressed, but someone else said the waters were clearer than any he’d seen in years. Unfortunately, the clarity of the water is one of those things that simply can’t be predicted. One day, the water will be crystal clear, the next day it might be slightly murky, and yet every other meteorlogical and hydrological factor will be identical.

I’ve also had some interesting reports from Pickles Reef. I’ve taken two groups there recently and both reported an abundance of young fish. It seems there’s something about the depth or configuration of the reef that’s keeping the predators away and allowing the young fry to thrive. "An aquatic nesting ground," one of the girls called it.

And we even have an official mystery. I’ve actually been to Pickles three times recently, and all three times there have been some divers (dive flag a’flyin’) parked about half a mile away, clearly beyond the range of the reef, itself. (I don’t know if it was the same boat or not.) The question is, what’d they find way over there that’s so interesting?

As far as the middle reefs go, I haven’t been down there in ages, but a few days ago I briefly talked to a guy I know who works on a dive boat down in Islamorada and asked him how the divers were enjoying the trips. He said "No complaints!" I take that to mean that everything’s in bloom and the sea fans are in abundance.

That’s it!

Happy trails,
Cap’n Chuck