Although I didn’t get out diving in July, I did make it on Sunday for an early birthday celebration. It was a bit bouncy going out, but while we were underwater on the reef, a rain shower swept through and calmed the winds down. Watching the rain come down when you’re underwater is an interesting sight. There weren’t many people on the boat, so the crew and I think maybe one person were able to be in the covered part so they were sheltered.
We did two shallow genuine wrecks. By that, I mean they weren’t deliberately deployed to become an artificial reef. The first, City of Washington, was somewhat famous in its day because it was in the port of Havana when the USS Maine exploded. The City was the primary rescue ship to bring the surviving crew back. It was later converted to a barge though and met with a very ordinary end when it ran aground on the reefs off Key largo. Anyway, as a genuine wreck, it’s all broken apart, but is a thriving artificial reef. On the second site, we went to one which actually has two names. For many years, people referred to it as Mike’s Wreck with the idea it was a rum runner back in the days of Prohibition. Some underwater archeology folks did some cataloging and research though and explained from things like the type of rivets, it couldn’t have been the kind of boat everyone thought. They determined it was the Hanna Belle (might have the spelling wrong), a British vessel. It, too, is quite broken up, but marine life that takes hold doesn’t care if it doesn’t look like a ship any longer. Coral and sponges grow just as well on a jumble of wood as they do if the structure is still intact. Little fish can hide and bigger fish can cruise around looking for a meal.
We didn’t see any of the “big stuff” like eels, turtles, rays, or sharks, but there were plenty of fish and a few of my favorites. I was able to find a juvenile puffer and stay with it for a while. They tend to dart away as quickly as possible, so that was a treat.