DIVE REPORT: UP CLOSE WITH TINY CRITTERS

A diver holds an arrow crab

Conditions this past week were very nice. We finally got the wind to lay down, which made for some great diving. 

When conditions are nice, we like to look for critters while diving. I am generally a “big animal” diver; I love to see big sharks, turtles and rays. But, it is also a fun challenge to find and identify the “little stuff.” In diving, we like to call these macro creatures.

“Macro” actually means large in scale. It’s used in photography to describe a style where macro lenses are used to magnify tiny creatures to make them look big and up close. 

“Macro Diving” is used throughout the dive industry to describe dives where you don’t focus on the big stuff. Instead, you move slowly and without stirring up the bottom too much. This is because you’re looking for tiny life – little nudibranchs, goby fish, etc. 

In the Florida Keys, we have some of the coolest macro critters. From flaming tongues to yellowhead jawfish to arrow crabs to Christmas tree worms, we’ve got it all! The next time you’re out diving, try slowing down and focusing to find some of these amazing creatures.

Christmas tree worms on a coral colony.

Next Week’s Dive Report

Next week conditions look phenomenal. Get out on the water and enjoy our backyard. We’re heading into our summer season, when the flat seas, warm waters and sunny skies make this the best place to be.

Conservation Update

Speaking of macro and corals, have you ever taken an up-close look at a coral colony? What we think of as one big colony is actually made up of many identical coral polyps that live and work together. If you take a macro look at a coral colony, you can often observe the individual polyps – which look kind of like upside-down jellyfish or sea anemones – with their legs out filter feeding in the water column. 

Flamingo tongue snail.

Conservation Tip

While doing a macro dive, be mindful of your buoyancy. Be properly weighted and as neutrally-buoyant as possible. 

I.CARE Tip

ICARE will be planting on Saturday with Key Dives. Join them!

A red-tipped sea goddess nudibranch.

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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