Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef

Diving is a sweet way to ensure summer adventure. But, the sport takes willpower. A hard lesson’s been learned; when a trip is booked, do not indulge the night before in Hemingways and wine at Michael’s. (La Crema 2007 is highly recommended) followed by strawberry Caipirinha’s upstairs at Bagatelle. But, when the plan goes awry, have no fear. The Weekly Newspapers grabs some tanks from Tilden’s, and calls on devoted friend, restaurant owner, and Navy veteran John Mirabella.

“Divin’ and flyin’ is a way for me to unwind from the chaos of the restaurant business,” Mirabella tells The Weekly Newspapers.

J Bella is the man at the helm of Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar. This week, he’s also at the helm of his 22-foot Grady White to take The Weekly Newspapers Editor and myself divin’.

“I spent six years in the Navy,” Mirabella chats as he captains. “I went to Navy dive school and was a nuclear operator on a submarine.”

With “many hundreds” of dives underneath his weight belt, Bella is humble about his experience.

“I have not dove more than 130 feet, I wouldn’t brag about my dives. There are a lot more guys who regularly swim to deeper depths.”

For this dive adventure, the three of us boated out to Sombrero Reef between MM’s 47 & 48, 4 ½ miles east of the 7 Mile Bridge.

“This is an easy reef to dive. There’s a lot to see and it’s protected by the National Marine Sanctuary.” Our divemaster says about the popular spot.

20 pounds of added weight later, Jason, John and I sink some 56 feet off the reef’s edge. We were greeted by a school of jellyfish and spotted an array of sea creatures, lobster, Snappers, Groupers, Angel Fish, Barracuda, Chubs, Yellowtails, even a Moray Eel.

When one is the owner of one of the Keys most noted sushi restaurants, the immersion stimulates altered thoughts.

“Sometimes I do look at everything I see underwater as potential product,” admits J Bella. “But, truthfully, I am really into saltwater aquariums and that has me looking at the underwater world differently, I am looking for small things.”

Besides divin’ and flyin’, the aquariums are instant therapy for the harried businessman. A man who sees the species of fish he serves in their natural, surroundings, before serving it up at his copious sushi bar.

Next week
Join us next week for Captain Slate’s Atlantis Dive Center in Key Largo for the internationally famous Christ of the Abyss dive.

But first, we take a refresher course with the notorious and newest edition to the FKCC Marine Sciences Program. Dr. Patrick Rice, Ph.D. Find out what this doctor, who’s been featured on MSNBC and the Discovery Channel’s Durty Jobs, has to add to our arsenal of SCUBA knowledge.

Tip from John Mirabella
Don’t surface faster than a second a foot. Navy training requires divers to ascend no faster than your smallest bubble. This significantly reduces the chances of being stricken with decompression sickness, or “the bends.”

John Mirabella, restaurant owner, has been immersed in the ocean for most of his career. Earning his SCUBA certification through the Navy dive school. John Mirabella, restaurant owner, has been immersed in the ocean for most of his career

“Divin’ and flyin’! “That’s how I unwind,” says Mirabella who snapped this photo of Sombrero Reef while riding high above it in his Cessna 172. His wife, Arlene, christened the plane The Blue Angel. Photo by John Mirabella Mirabella who snapped this photo of Sombrero Reef while riding high above it in his Cessna 172

A Deep Blue Dive Center celebrates World Oceans Day with some reef cleaning
Photo by Larry Benvenuti A Deep Blue Dive Center celebrates World Oceans Day with some reef cleaning

On June 8, 2009 A Deep Blue Dive hosted a “Seas the Day” event with an underwater clean up at one or our most precious resources, Sombrero Reef, a National Marine Sanctuary in the heart of the Florida Keys just off the coast of Marathon, Florida.

There were a total of 22 volunteers who participated to make this event happen. It was a beautiful sunny day, visibility around 50 feet and calm seas. Out of the 22 volunteers aboard, nine were international visitors from varying South East Asian Countries in the United States via a program called Coral Triangle, an organization that strives to protect coastal and marine environments.

Guests from as far as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, joined Middle Keys divers for a firsthand glimpse at some of the most beautiful coral crops in the world. Project goals included assessing U.S. policies and strategies to protect coastal and marine environments, exploring key roles of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and involving citizen action groups in national and local efforts and to discuss international cooperative efforts to protect marine resources.

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