Today’s two dives were my personal best offshore North East Florida. At a depth of nearly 80 feet we could see the reef structures from the surface. It was absolutely spectacular; comparable to a good day of Keys diving. The videos and pictures to follow will give you a good idea of how nice it was.
The day started at 6:30 when myself and Ed Kalakauskis arrived at the boat dock. Jacksonville Reef Research Team’s Mike Barnes and Mason Cooper were already onsite getting ready to load the Native Diver II. Capt Steve Parks, and our favorite dive master Ed White, were finishing the last few vessel preparations. JRRT’s Bill Lindholm arrived; we all did our meet and greets, loaded the vessel, and were on our way!
Today was a Jacksonville Reef Research Team project dive. The goals were to conduct fish counts, collect a few data variables and water samples, and to photograph and video the sites.
It was a nice ride out to the 1st dive location thanks to the great weather. Capt Parks put the Native Diver II over the Coppage Tug reef site and dive master White jumped in to secure the mooring line. Kalakauskis and I were the 1st divers in and I couldn’t believe it, but I could actually see the Tug Boat Reef as soon as we started to descend!! When we reached the seafloor it felt like we were in the Caribbean. We could see the entire vessel and it was covered with life. The three man dive team; Barnes, Cooper, and Lindholm arrived shortly after and I think they were as amazed as I was. Even though I have personally visited this particular artificial reef several times, it felt like an entirely different site in such clear conditions. We had the opportunity to investigate like never before. The following video is a two min summary of the experience.
The second artificial reef location is very near the Coppage Tug reef site and consists of concrete culverts and misc concrete structures. Capt Parks and White moved the Native Diver II in position while us divers off-gassed through our surface interval. Once refreshed, we were back in the water and this dive was no less spectacular from the 1st. Again we could see the reef structure from the surface and once at the seafloor we could see a very large portion of the reef. Visibility was so clear we didn’t even need to use a guide reel to navigate the reef terrain. We almost always use such a device at this location to ensure we make it back to the ascent line. No need today. The following brief video will give you a taste of the experience. The pictures above are from this dive.
Today’s water clarity allowed us to better visually understand these particular reefs areas. It was an opportunity to witness the diverse ecosystems from a greater depth of field.