Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Under the Bridge

Happy New Year! How are you celebrating? Are you celebrating all the things that happened in 2013 or the things yet to come in 2014?

David and I are still in southern Florida, enjoying the warm weather and are not at all sad to be missing the sub zero temperatures up home. We will be ringing in the new year with prime rib, spiny lobster tails, and David's family.

For us, the end of 2013 will also mark the beginning of the end of our trip to the south. In the next few days we plan to start the trip north.

2013 has been a big year for us. David and I quit our jobs, took over Soper Ocean Services from my dad, and created Gurnet Trading Co.'s online store. We also added our little Nemo to the family.

The last few weeks have really put a cherry on the top of the year. We dived and snorkeled the keys, enjoyed days at the beach, trips on the boat, and even two dives at the top ranked dive in North America.

Sport Diver Magazine named the Blue Heron Bridge Dive the best in North America and called it the secret mecca of muck. To those of you who are not up on dive lingo and terminology, being called a mecca of much is a big deal and honor. Muck diving is a unique style that skips the pretty reefs and pristine water. Instead divers hunt in the cracks and crevices for shy and rare critters. They hide in plain sight with incredible disguises and camouflage. Top muck diving locations include Thailand, Indonesia, Bali, the Philippines, and apparently Palm Beach Florida.

As it turns out this fantastic dive is just down the road from David's parent's house. David and I threw our gear in the back of the Jeep and headed 30 minutes south, not once but twice.

We dived the west end of the bridge during the day time high tide on December 22. It lasted nearly 90 minutes with a maximum depth of 15 feet. Muck diving takes practice, not because it is technically challenging, but because it takes practice to slow down enough to hunt for camouflaged creatures. It takes even more practice to not be distracted by the vibrant and flamboyant angelfish, parrotfish, and butterfly fish that abound.

How many species can you count? Yellowline arrow crabs, spiny lobsters, sea urchins, lizardfish, porcupinefish, flounder, trunk fish, cowfish, starfish, scorpionfish, jellyfish, remora, queen angelfish, grey angelfish, and many many more.

We dived the east end of the bridge during the night time high tide on December 30th. It lasted 70 minutes with a maximum depth of 22 feet and yielded even more creatures than its daytime counterpart. In addition the aforementioned species we also saw banded shrimp, stingrays, octopus, squid, frogfish, and the largest hermit crabs I have ever seen.

This night dive was particularly special because it was hosted by Stuart Scuba, who provide refreshments and entertainment after the dive. It was great to meet some of the local bubbleheads and learn a little about their stomping grounds. So I would like to give special shout out to the Stuart Scuba dive staff. Thanks for a great dive and for keeping our tanks topped off during our trip.

Having dived the bridge twice during the day and once at night, I can easily say this is my favorite dive site. It has never disappointed and I look forward to diving it again in the future. This night dive was a hell of a way to end 2013, I can only hope that 2014 yields such dives.

Happy New Year!