Turtle Time in Jupiter:  Calm Seas – poor visibility.

 

June is the peak season for turtle nesting. Florida’s southeast coast hosts the densest turtle populations in the U.S. Divers and boaters often spot giant loggerheads, green turtles, and deep-diving leather backs in the waters off the Jupiter coast.

 Jupiter Dive Center:

Danielle and I were eager to take advantage of turtle time in Jupiter this year and headed down for two days of dives off the Jupiter coastline.

As we headed out Saturday afternoon, the weather was hot and sunny, and the ocean was calm.  We spotted a few giant loggerheads on the surface as we navigated to our designated dive spot over the Bonnie Reef area.  Excited about seeing the turtles on the surface, we quickly geared up to head down.

Our dive location was the Bonnie Reef area, about 30 minutes due east of the Jupiter inlet. The dive master warned us that the currents Two sturgeons playingwere very light, contributing to floating particles in the water, reducing visibility to under twenty feet.  We were surprised as this area typically boasts 40-80 feet of visibility with a strong Gulf current.

Oops Not a Good Start

Danielle and I ran into technical issues with our gear during our first dive.  I was mistakenly underweight and had to return to the boat for more weight.  When we headed back down to the reef’s 70-foot depth, Danielle started to have flooding issues with a new dive mask she had bought.  After taking a few pictures, she signaled that we needed to return to the surface, and I could see her mask was filling up, which was annoying and a little scary at that depth.

She and I did a careful ascent and made our three-minute safety stop even though she was struggling with her mask.  If a turtle had swum up to her and bumped her nose, she wouldn’t have seen it.  We returned safely to the boat and had spare masks, so we looked forward to a problem-free, smooth 2nd afternoon dive.

Once arriving on the surface and getting our gear off, we spotted another loggerhead turtle just off the boat’s starboard side.  Figures!

Dive Two Saturday afternoon:  Loggerhead

After our mandatory surface time was up, the group geared up to head down to a spot known as loggerhead along the off-shore reefs.

Large Logger Head Turtle hidingThe dive master was right, we found the visibility to be less than 20 feet, and we had to work to stay close enough to follow the dive master, who discovered an overhang providing shelter to a huge loggerhead turtle sleeping.  He appeared to be at least 6 feet long with a large head with eyes that blinked as I pointed my Sealife camera case and light at him for a UnfortSeeing these huge creatures hanging out and napping in 80 feet of water iwas lots of fun.  We wish the visibility was better to get more photos.

We traversed the reef area taking pictures and looking for more turtles and sea life.  Mr. Lobster - hiding in a caveDanielle spotted an enormous lobster hiding in a cave in the reef structure.  I zoomed in for a shot and said cheese to the lobster, who was probably annoyed by my bright light.  At least I didn’t snag him for dinner.

I took several good photos with my new camera rig, which featured my Apple iPhone 13 pro surrounded by a Sealife underwater housing with a bright adjustable light.  I usually let Danielle do the photography, but I was having a blast with my camera, which I could easily switch back and forth between pictures and video.  The water was too cloudy for video, so I took pictures most of the time.

 Sunday Morning Turtle Time Dive in Jupiter

After a good dinner at Tiger Woods sports bar, we slept well and were up by 6:30 to get ready for our Sunday morning dives.  We were hoping that conditions had improved some and visibility would be better.

Our first dive was along the reefs again, looking for more turtles and hoping for a few sharks and other fun aquatic life.  The boat was only half full, so we had yellow angel fish-Jupiter Fl Dvingmore room to move about, making Sunday’s trip much more comfortable.

We headed down and found that visibility had worsened, barely 15 feet making it even harder to see the reef life.  We zig-zagged back and forth and around the reef, finally spotting another sleeping loggerhead and a few more lobsters hiding.

Again, I was able to capture a few more good pictures of colorful coral and fish. One of my favorite shots was the columns of bubbles from the other divers as we ascended to the surface.

 Sunday:  Dive Two Turtle Time in Jupiter

The captain and the dive master asked the group if we wanted to stay around the reefs or head further to one of the wrecks.  We all agreed the wreck might be a better choice, so we took a boat ride further east to the Bonaire wreck sitting in 80-90 feet of water.

Our dive master did a current check, and we dropped straight down onto the wreck’s stern, which was in pretty bad condition.  We made our way into the current towards the bow taking in the ship’s structure and sea life hanging around.  One of the main attractions was the ship’s toilet sitting open for access by anyone needing it.

Diving the Bonaire-Jupiter Florida

coral reef growing on wreckA medium size grouper was graciously handling our intrusion into his world.  We had fun taking some pictures in and around the wreck, including the one of Danielle looking out of the porthole above.

After making a few loops around and checking out the ship, we were low on air, so we headed to the surface.  Chris and Morgan on the Bonaire WreckAlthough the trip wasn’t the best we have done in the past year, we enjoyed ourselves and learned a few lessons, including checking our weights and masks before diving into deep water.

We met several terrific people over the two days, including a nice couple from Tampa, Chris, and Morgan, whom we look forward to scalloping diving in Tarpon Springs next month.

Gear Report:

IProEar Dive Mask with Ear Covers, Scuba Diving Pressure Equalization Gear, Tempered Glass Twin Lens (Black Silicone)

was epic fail for Danielle.  She had tried it in her pool, and it seemed to work well but failed at sea trials.  It may have been a user error.  She’ll try it again after contacting the manufacturer, but at this point, it is not recommended.  1 Star

 SeaLife Underwater Smartphone Scuba Case & Sea Dragon 2500 Lumen Light, Waterproof Photography, Access Camera Controls, Leak Alarms, Fits Most Phones


5 Stars – The sealife iPhone deep sea camera case and light were excellent.  Light illuminates to capture vivide colors and the iphone camera view and wide lense and telephoto capablities are terrific and exceeded all my needs.  I found it easy to change modes under water and the big display let me really sea what the images looked like underwater. Overall great build and easy to use. You do need to read most of the user manual but it is well written and to the point.  Can’t be happier.

Jupiter Dive Center Republic IV and VII

Jupiter Dive Shop:  5 Star

This was our first trip with the folks from Jupiter dive shop. Overall we found them to be very friendly and helpful.  Our first day the REpublic VII was filled to capacity and we were shoulder to shoulder, but we all made it work.  The next day was more comfortable on the Republic IV.  The captain and dive masters tried hard to find us the best spots to dive and worked hard to get to divers quickly to pick them up.  We would not hesitate to return.