DIVE REPORT: SHARK AWARENESS DIVES PROTECT THIS PREDATOR

While nurse sharks are most commonly seen on the seafloor, you can occasionally see them in the water column. TONY TIMPANO/Contributed

This Week’s Dive Report

This past week, conditions were mixed. During the week, we had very high winds that kept the boats at dock. If you recall, winds – more than rain – are what determine how safe it is to be on the water. In fact, it’s actually a really cool experience to dive in light showers and to see the raindrops hitting the water surface from below.

The weather turned great just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Low winds translated to great visibility and some stunning dives. As with most holidays here in the Florida Keys, there were tons of boats out on the water. That made dive site selection more challenging. 

On Friday, we were able to take a few groups out to experience our “Shark Awareness” dive. The particular patch reef we go to is a nurse shark mecca. Divers have the unique opportunity to interact with countless nurse sharks throughout the dive. It’s an experience most never forget, and provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the role of these apex predators in our oceans, why they are threatened and what we can do to help. 

Next Week’s Dive Report

The weather will be rough with remnants from Hurricane Agatha making its way to South Florida and the Florida Keys. Expect rain and winds through Saturday. 

Conservation Update

As the weather improves, we take advantage by getting out with I.CARE to plant more endangered corals. This past weekend, recreational divers planted 805 individual corals, bringing the I.CARE lifetime total to 4,670. 

If you think you can’t personally make a difference, I invite you out with us. There is no better feeling than knowing you’re doing something that will directly affect the future of this reef. With that, you help not just the divers and dive industry, but also all the other businesses and services in the Keys that rely on a healthy reef. 

Conservation Tip

On a busy weekend like Memorial Day, it’s very important to display your dive flag when snorkeling and diving. Boaters must not operate their vessel within 50 feet of the diver down flag and must reduce speed to idle speed when within 200 feet of the flag. So place the flag on the highest point of your vessel you can and make sure it’s large enough to be seen from a distance.

I.CARE Tip

If it’s too windy to go out, consider visiting the land nursery at Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada.

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Eric Billips is is the owner, captain and instructor at Islamorada Dive Center and Floridia Keys Dive Center. He specializes in scuba, rebreather, spearfishing and captaining in the Florida Keys