When I woke up the morning of the oil rig dive, I wasn’t expecting much. It’s an oil rig, not a reef, it should be pretty dead under the waves right? Wrong.

Nauts prepare to dive under an oil rig, which, much to Jaxon’s surprise was full of life!

Soon after my giant stride into the water, I was shocked to see the vast expanse beneath me. This was my first dive where I couldn’t see the bottom, or at least know it wasn’t far below. After a brief moment of awe staring into the abyss, a small shape emerged from the infinite blue: a silky shark had come to say hello. Slowly but surely, it made its way up from the depths. When it finally joined us at the surface, it circled us a few times to see what we were up to. After about 30 seconds, our new aquatic friend glided ahead of us towards our destination: the oil rig.

Jaxon and his dive buddy Sierra weave their way through the colorful oil rig structure.

We followed close behind, our hands gripping a line the dive masters tied to the 50ft mark on the nearest leg of the structure. As we neared the rig, the vague haze of shadows in front of us transformed into huge steel pillars covered in all sorts of sea life in a way no aquarium could ever hope to replicate. Huge jacks and snapper weaved around the pillars throughout the rig, often passing right next to or in-between the divers in our group. Little fish no bigger than my thumb swarmed around every structure, rope, and cable like bees around a hive. And every now and then, our favorite silky shark drifted by to say hello yet again.

Time flew by, and before I knew it, our time to head back to the surface had come. I didn’t want to leave so soon, but the air in my tank had other plans. As I boarded the boat, the silky shark swam by one last time as if to say goodbye. I’ll remember that dive for the rest of my life, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the world below the rig.


— Jaxon B., Second Class Naut, Tarpon Springs Chapter