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Friday, November 12, 2010

Enjoying the weather!

En route to diving, looking across the Caicos Bank at West Caicos

Ahhh, at long last....now that we’ve made landfall and washed off the salt, we’re delighted to be to able to enjoy the weather rather than wait on the weather! Having been here before on two of the live-aboard dive boats, Ron and I are familiar with the fabulous diving here in the Turks and Caicos...one of the main reasons we wanted to be cruising here this season! Dive profiles range from spur and groove coral formations to sloping terrain with a profusion of sponges, sea fans, and sea whips amid the coral heads, to fascinating coral undercuts, to perfectly vertical walls flourishing with life. The variety and number of reef fish, large and small, are staggering here. A word of caution though, as there can be strong currents flowing here depending on the fluctuations of the tide. You need to be aware of this on every dive and dive accordingly, or wait until the current ebbs a bit to dive safely.
The first two days we dove off Eclipse, running across the Caicos Bank out to West Caicos and then French Cay, to different dive moorings installed by the National Parks Committee in their designated Marine National Park areas. We dove at sites called The Gullies, Rock Garden Interlude and Double D. The park mooring system here is fabulous, as the mooring balls are for the use of all (although dive boats get priority) and the moorings protect the fragile reefs as they keep wayward anchors off the delicate coral. You aren’t allowed to anchor in any of the marine preserves, so must use the moorings, although you can anchor in clear sandy areas when out of the marked marine parks.
Ron and I have thoroughly enjoyed the diving.! As I said before, gorgeous reefs, steep wall drop offs, and the fish life....amazing. The first thing we’ve seen on every dive has been .... a shark! Or two...or three! On one dive at The Gullies, we had a two-shark escort the entire time. We both found that a bit odd -- normally sharks don’t care for noisy divers and tend to beat feet. Or fins, as the case may be...but normally they don’t hang around very long, much less swim alongside you as if you were walking your dog! Nevertheless, it was very cool, but we were also rather wary, keeping an eye on the sharks as we proceeded along the wall. It was a bit disconcerting since they liked to cruise up from behind us, pass and then loop around and do it again. 
We’ve seen turtles, rays, and lobster on nearly every dive, too. The first turtle showed up with the sharks at The Gullies, and like the sharks, it hung around us for the entire dive. It just was swimming along, stopping to feed, totally unconcerned about our presence! It was a fabulous dive, quietly swimming along the wall or pausing to watch the sealife carry on with their usual routine, and not feel like your presence is annoying or affecting them. Even if the sharks’ watchful patrol was affecting us a little bit! Ron has GOT to get out his underwater camera and get some of this on film! 

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