2015 was not a good year for me to get out and dive with the irony being the main reason I couldn’t go was being wrapped up in working on Mystery of the Last Olympian which is all about diving. (http://bit.ly/1XEhXRF). Anyway, I wanted to do better in 2016 and while the January trip was just snorkeling, I did make it in March and was surprisingly able to go on Memorial Day. There were all sorts of things that could have made that not work out, yet it did and the conditions were terrific. Plus, about one-third of folks on the boat were veterans; two of us being female. In another coincidence, we went to the same two dive sites as in March; the wreck of the Benwood and Sandy Bottom Cave (part of French Reef). Those are popular and common sites so that part isn’t too unusual. However, last time out we glimpsed dolphins and also did this time. Even a quick look is fun, but there are times when they will come and “play” in the wake of a boat which is always a special treat.
We didn’t see anything big on either dive – the reef shark at Sandy Bottom present when we moored took off before most of us saw it. That’s okay by me, but others were disappointed. There were plenty of fish though with nice schools at each location and I got to see a porcupine puffer for the first time in ages. I love them and unfortunately, this one tucked back underneath a section of the wreck so Hubby couldn’t get a good photo. There is, however, a spotted drum that has taken up residence and Hubby has been watching him (her?) grow from a tiny little juvenile. He also “righted” a conch that had been tipped up on its side; quite possibly by a potential predator that didn’t follow through (I hope not by a careless diver). While it is interesting to see the conch itself, being partially exposed is not their usual posture. We did see a couple of small yellow rays that are no bigger than a dessert plate. They have lovely coloration and will hang around if you don’t frighten them away. (The photo below is of another juvenile spotted drum, not the one currently on the Benwood)