Today was our first day of “regular” diving, even though we’ve already been diving for 2 days. We planned a 90 foot dive for the morning, a 60 foot dive right after lunch, and a 30 foot dive right before dinner.

To start off the day our 90 foot dive was along the edge of the atoll, outside of the protective coral ring. We saw lots of fishes, a GIGANTIC lobster (a few of our sports-fishers were amazed by the size), and some of the same corals we’ve seen on our other reef dives. Deep dives are always fun, with the chance to see very different types of corals and creatures on the reef. Too bad we can only stay down there 20 minutes!

The second dive was in the shallower area right above where the wall began its steep drop-off. The kids were hard at work doing their science surveys – fish counts and classifying the benthic cover.

And our third dive was at a new spot, which we are lovingly calling Jellyfish Patch Reef. This new dive spot is inside the protected atoll area. From aerial views or satellite pictures, you can see that the Glovers Reef coral atoll forms almost a complete protected circle around the inner lagoon area. The few breaks along this coral boundary are the only ways for boats to get in and out of the atoll. Outside of the coral ring, the wall drops off sharply into very deep depths. Inside of the atoll, depths are much shallower, reaching a maximum of about 70 feet. As all of our Belize group is well aware, the shallow protected lagoon area has much smaller waves. Going outside the lagoon means large ocean swells and a much bumpier boat ride.

Staying inside the lagoon area is new for our group. The patch reef was about 20 feet deep, but the sides sloped down to about 50 feet. We all had to be careful not to go too deep, since our dive was planned for 30 feet maximum depth. And this dive presented a new obstacle: jellyfish! There were large numbers of big moon jellies, which are essentially harmless. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of sea wasps and smaller jellies with a much more painful sting. Cruising around the patch reef on this dive required a sharp eye to watch out for the nearly see-through jellies and quick reflexes to change direction if a collision was imminent. A benthic cover survey and two fish surveys filled out our science for this dive. Morgan and I were actually able to circle the entire patch reef in our 50 minute dive while she performed a fish survey.

~Julie Galkiewicz, Education Officer, SNI Tarpon Springs Chapter

Our first dive was at a site called the Aquarium. It amazes me how many great reefs are by the island. Our dive was outside the atoll so the waves are bigger and the current was stronger. I saw three huge black grouper that each weighed about 60 pounds! Conner (CHutch) and I went snorkeling on a reef off the coast of our island. It was absolutely beautiful. There were no bleached corals and the reef was so healthy. Our second dive was also at the Aquarium. We did fish counts again. Our third dive was fish counts again. IT WAS MY 100TH DIVE!! We saw a TON of moon jellies. Maddie and I were playing with them. Some of them were bigger than my head.

~Brooke Liston, Tarpon Springs SCUBAnaut