Unfortunately the song remains the same; there is not much to chronicle under southwest Florida’s water so far this year. The bulk of our diving has been search and recovery... we had a wallet, glasses, and even a drone! G-reg got a workout in 64 degree water cutting crab lines off of crippled drive shafts recently. The few ‘guinea pig’ dive trips that ran this past week encountered very limited vis; 5 feet at the 9 mile reef (40’ depth) and it got worse the closer in we were. I imagine a 20 mile run out would produce no better than 15 feet of vis at the bottom. I hear clarity is about thirty feet on a 50 mile run, bring plenty of gas money and spare time plus a strong back (or calm seas)!
Calm seas have been hard to come by but it hasn’t been too bad the last ten days and the winds have predominately been from the east. That means a tranquil shoreline that typically improves dive conditions. In my past 40+ years here, those conditions would mean good to excellent visibility. I’m on the verge of throwing my ‘past history’ book into the trash! Isn’t the past suppose to be a good predictor of the future? Right?? I’m sure some of you remember The Farmers Almanac? That book used a history of weather cycles and events to predict patterns and phenomenons that could affect the future year(s). I just asked young Stretch (Chris) - he hadn’t heard of that old farmers bible.
On my second dive this past Sunday on the Bubba, I relaxed enough to have a moment and reflect on the conditions and ask myself why (WTF)?? Our visibility went from bad to nothing when we made contact with the bottom. We were lost in a silt storm! Swimming into the current and out of the cloud, I was able to see my glove at the end of my arm (and that was good). I reached two fingers down to slightly push myself off the sandy bottom. I was alarmed to see my fingers disappear into the silt before feeling the bottom. That’s some thick silt I thought to myself!
I really haven’t stopped thinking about it either. It’s not right, flat out wrong! A layer of silt several inches deep 8 miles offshore. I have never experienced or even heard of anything like that before. Well that explains why our visibility has been so crappy near shore recently! I reason the silt is a result of all the toxic runoff we have been subjected to the last 2 rainy seasons. I’m STILL HOPEFUL our conditions will rebound! Spring is right around the corner!! If something doesn’t give soon, I’m gonna need a therapist!
Fish I.D. is the hot topic this month and we are going to focus on the Butterfly Fish. One of my favorite local tropicals! Of course being able to see the fish is paramount to identifying them!
Please, please, please shine a little love our way soon Mother Nature...
Live, Love, Dive - Jeff