Dive #116 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

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Bottom Time to Date:

102h
24m


Dive Info:

Dive Start:
9:27AM

Bottom Time:
63 minutes

Maximum Depth:
29 feet

Safety Stop:
not needed

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
1200 psi

Weather Conditions:
90F

Surface Conditions:
Calm

Surface Water Temperature:
86F

Bottom Water Temperature:
82F

Visibility:
80 feet
116
TITLE
* * * *
July 3,
2002
LOOE KEY MARINE RESERVE
OFF CUDJOE KEY, CLOSE TO KEY WEST, FLORIDA KEYS, USA
BOAT DIVE
 
Linda, Janel, and Johnny; Capt. Jim Wyatt
Florida Keys Reef Divers
Photo
Janel loves the diving here. Vis is great!
Videograph by Rich Torkington in Florida Keys 2002 
Dive Journal: Weve risen early this morning and are headed south from Islamorada with all our dive gear packed into the SUV. We head leisurely down US1 for a pleasant drive through the keys, crossing the many bridges and enjoying the thinning traffic as we head southwest.

Were diving this morning with Florida Keys Reef Divers, Inc. and Captain Jim Wyatt, located on Cudjoe Key. Jim has a nice small boat that guarantees a small dive party. Jim is very welcoming and were headed out to Looe Key Marine Reserve in no time.

Were about 5 minutes out from the dock when I suddenly realize Ive left my video camera behind in the SUV. I consider asking Jim to turn around to get it, but decide its really my own stupid fault for forgetting it. Oh well I will have to forgo the video today, which turns out to be a costly mistake read on.

There are dozens of mooring sites at Looe Key, and about half are filled up this morning. Jim tells us that the reserve will be packed by the time were finished with our first dive. The conditions today are ideal. Glass-smooth gin-clear waters. A nice warm surface layer around 87F, about 82F below.

At the last minute I decide to ditch the wetsuit and reduce my weight to 6 lb. A good move Im much more comfortable during the dive.

The reef at Looe Key is a classic spur-and-groove reef, like I learned about during my Advanced cert. Jim instructs us to swim up the groove channels, turn around in the sandy shallows , and follow another groove out, working our way up the reef. Since we will stay moored here for both dives, we decide to explore grooves on only the NE side of the boat for the first dive.

There are swarms of sergeant majors on entry, a nice welcome. We start up the first sandy groove between reef ridges and find its quite nice. Lots of crevices to explore, places for lobsters and eels, and plenty of fish life. At the end of the groove, we pause for a moment, and we are suddenly greeted by a gorgeous manta ray! The 5 ray gracefully swims across the groove as we all gape in wonder. Linda and I traveled half way around the world to Yap to see manta rays, and here we are in Florida with one only 6 feet away in crystal clear waters! All four of us kneel in the sand and try to hold our bubbles as the manta circles around a bit, then slowly fades off into the distance. A very special treat for all of us, and a first for the children.

We explore at least four other grooves and cover a lot of ground. A tank of air goes a long way at only 25 feet. There are numerous eels, including big green morays, goldentail morays, and whitespotted morays. There are some great lobsters, some of them quite big. There are loads of grunts, schoolmasters, doctorfish, and several schools of black margates. Linda was the only one who saw a spotted eagle ray, too. At one point we all look up to observe a school of needlefish on the surface.

Near one boulder, a voracious school of midnight parrotfish comes through, diving into a crevice by the boulder to scrape algae. They repeatedly dive into the crevice until sand is flying everywhere. Were really close to the action and it is just fascinating.

Great dive Looe Key is a great dive destination.

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Dive
Info:
Fins:
Mares Avanti Quattro
Computer:
U S Divers Matrix
Tank:
80 ft3 Al
BCD:
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Dive Type:
BOAT
Body of Water:
Caribbean Sea
Mask:
U S Divers
Protection:
3mm full wetsuit
Regulator:
SeaQuest
Spectrum XR2
plus Oceanic
Slimline octopus
Weight:
6 lb
Water Type:
Salt
Video Equipment:
Left in the car!