Connect with us
background

Blogs

Jupiter Shark Dive (Watch Video)

CJ and Mike

Published

on

Florida has one of the largest concentrations of sharks in the world, with sharks present year-round. The Sunshine State is known to have tiger sharks, great hammerheads, bulls, scalloped hammerheads, lemons, sandbars, reefs, black tips, makos, duskys and silky sharks either visiting or resident in its waters. Depending on the time of year many of these species can be seen on dive sites off of its Atlantic coast near Jupiter, earning it a reputation as one of the USA’s top shark diving spots.

Jupiter gained global notoriety for its annual lemon shark aggregation after featuring on BBC’s “Blue Planet 2”.  Every year from December to late March lemon sharks follow the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream sweeping up Florida’s Atlantic coast.  It is thought that they congregate near the coast here to mate and subsequently return to the mangroves of the Bahamas to give birth.  Researchers actively documenting the aggregation have discovered that in addition to the lemon sharks, blacktips migrate in their thousands just offshore during winter.  Given this abundance of life, it’s not surprising that divers and shark lovers gather here to witness these amazing creatures up close.

Sadly sharks are fished both commercially and recreationally from the Florida coast to the waters of the Bahamas.  Getting people to view sharks as more valuable alive than dead is a major part of the conservation focus in Jupiter.  Several local eco-tourism companies offer shark tours catering to divers, snorkelers and those wishing to view sharks from the comfort of a boat.  With three international airports within driving distance and less than a 45 minute boat ride to most sites, if you want to get in the water and swim with sharks, this seems one of the easiest and most accessible ways to do it.

Recently Mike and I were fortunate enough to be transiting through Miami and thought it would be a great opportunity to delay our onward travel a few days to experience this amazing event.  After a bit of research on the various dive and tour operators, we booked a snorkel trip with www.floridasharkdiving.com.  Choosing to snorkel meant we could have good in-water interaction without any cages and also be able to fly out the next day without any offgassing concerns.  This option also means families with non-divers have the opportunity to share the same experience.

We headed over to the marina on a sunny yet pleasantly cool morning to meet with our captain and other shark enthusiasts.  With a stunning view of the Jupiter lighthouse across the waterway we were met by our friendly and efficient boat captain as the crew prepared our boat with supplies and introduced us to each other.  Having signed in and completed the necessary paperwork, we split into 2 groups of 6 to keep the group sizes small.  The boats were comfortable and fast and we enjoyed the cruise out of the Jupiter inlet and into the slight swell.

In under 30 minutes we were about 4 miles offshore at a site known for regular lemon and bull shark sightings.  In fact, the company has nicknamed it “Lemon Drop” for its predictability. Our three crew consisted of the Captain, our in water guide and shark specialist and a second in water safety freediver, all very knowledgable and enthusiastic!  On the way we were briefed on the boat safety features, what to expect on the upcoming experience and good in-water etiquette to keep both the sharks and ourselves happy.

We had expected to be waiting a while for the sharks to come in and investigate the boat, but less than 5 minutes after we arrived the first bull sharks were spotted below the surface, quickly followed by the call of “Lemon shark!”  We donned our fins and masks and slipped into the water along a buoy line to join our toothy friends and get a better look.  Our guide expertly drew the sharks towards us with a baited milk crate while also supervising the group, and we were soon totally absorbed watching a 3m long lemon shark and 15 or more bull sharks circling below and coming in for close passes.

My GoPro seemed to attract some of the sharks in, which gave me some fantastic close encounters, and an hour passed before we knew it.  Mike took so many photos he ran out of battery and we were both so engrossed we hadn’t realised how fast the time had gone.  We thrilled at being so close to so many large sharks, while they seemed perfectly at home cruising around us, eyeing these odd ungainly creatures bobbing on the waves in their blue domain.

Everyone was full of excited chatter on the return trip and we were escorted in by a squadron of pelicans seeking fishy scraps.  For us it was a short trip and we were glad to have gotten to see 2 iconic species on our blue water drift.  Later that week we heard that they were joined by some hammerheads too.

If you have more time in the area it would be well worth a diving trip to visit more local hotspots.  Out on the deeper dive sites, large bull sharks can show up accompanied by groups of cobia. A full day’s diving could well produce lemon, tiger, bull, nurse and great hammerhead sharks. The opportunity to potentially see all these on a single day in the same location about a 45min ride from shore is pretty incredible.  The Intracoastal Waterway also features manatees that can often be sighted enjoying the warm water, nurse sharks as well as osprey hunting from above and the charismatic pelicans.  It is certainly an area worth taking the time to visit.

In the winter, the waters off Jupiter average around 24°C. This means most divers will feel comfortable in a 5mm wetsuit. Dive operators recommend full wetsuits, gloves and hoods as well as the water will be a bit cooler at 30m.  Gear can be rented if you are traveling light and the trip can be planned to include other great dives if you have time to spare.  A multitude of wrecks and reefs await in the Keys, just a short drive south down the US 1.  Wildlife enthusiasts can visit the everglades, drive to the west coast to do a manatee snorkel in Crystal River, or for more shark action of a different kind, join a megalodon tooth hunt near Venice.  The only big decision you have to make in Florida is which do you fancy doing first?


For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blogs

Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel

American DTA Team

Published

on

A blog by Pro Dive International

*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*


Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?

Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.

Brief Overview

While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.

TOP 5 Party Guests

1. Basket Stars

These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light.

The perfect party costume, do you agree?

Basket Star by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid

These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.

Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?

Octopus by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

3. Crustaceans

Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.

Up for a dance?

Crab by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

4. Parrotfish

Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!

How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?

Parrotfish in Cozumel by Guillermo Reta @Pro Dive International

5. Bioluminescence

For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.

As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light.

This makes the perfect party glitter!

Bioluminescence @Dreamstime


Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!

How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?

  1. Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
  2. Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
  3. Contact us for guidance.


Contact:

reservations@prodiveinternational.com

www.prodiveinternational.com/contact-us

Continue Reading

Blogs

Turtles of the Riviera Maya & Cozumel

American DTA Team

Published

on

A blog by Pro Dive International

Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.

The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.

Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.

The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.

6 Turtle Fun Facts

  1. Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
  2. Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
  3. Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
  4. Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
  5. Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
  6. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.

Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.

Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.

Turtle Locations

Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.

Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:

Turtle Protection

Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.

Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.

Regulations

  • Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
  • Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
  • New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
  • Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
  • Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.

All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.

How to start your Turtle Adventure

Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09/21 & redeemed until Dec 22, 2021 with reference to this blog!

Contact:

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Trending