Dive #117 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

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Bottom Time to Date:

103h
24m


Dive Info:

Dive Start:
10:55AM

Bottom Time:
60 minutes

Maximum Depth:
30 feet

Safety Stop:
not needed

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
1000 psi

Weather Conditions:
92F

Surface Conditions:
Calm

Surface Water Temperature:
86F

Bottom Water Temperature:
82F

Visibility:
80 feet
117
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 in our SUV returning from Looe Key
Videograph by John Torkington in Florida Keys 2002 
Dive Journal: Jim is right. When we surface after dive #116, all the mooring sites at the reserve are taken, and dozens of others boats are anchored around as well. Literally hundreds of divers and snorkellers are in the water. Pristine conditions today!

Jim tells us he has another party to meet around noon, and so a quick return to the water would be appreciated. No need for surface interval here lets get back in.

We head southwest from the boat, exploring all the sandy grooves on that side. We head down one groove to the sandy shallows again, discovering some nice tarpon and a great school of horse-eye jacks. We head back up another groove to find a wonderful tight little school of bar jacks.

At the end of the groove, while were exploring around, I suddenly see the manta ray approaching us again. It is very likely the same one as last dive. I check the family and everyone but John is already stopping to see the manta approach us. It is a SUPERB encounter, as the ray flies by barely 2 feet away, showing its underside, as we kneel in the sand quietly. Johnny is busy rooting around in the sand, and as he catches sight of the 5 manta in his peripheral vision, he quickly looks up, then wildly double-takes and watches in awe.

The manta circles around us several times for over a minute, to our delight. As he makes yet another turn, we watch as a snorkeler quickly appears from the surface, chases the manta, then grabs onto its shoulders attempting to ride it. The manta jerks violently and is many yards away in an instant. I feel like going up and tying my weight belt onto this ignoramus.

We continue on a long exploration of the reef. There are beautiful corals everywhere and some nice nurse sharks. There is an occasional blue parrotfish to be seen - simply stunning. We spy one Nassau grouper being cleaned, a few highhats, and yellowtail damsels.

We end up out over the sand on the deep end of the grooves, checking out an isolated coral patch. It is a long way back to the boat but I think Ive kept track of where it is. We swim a long way, passing the hulls of many other boats, studying them to try and recognize ours. After a 5 minutes swim, I decide to surface since its so shallow. Weve overshot our boat by one groove, and so we all quickly vector back to the boat ladder.

Jim is impressed weve directly found the boat in all this traffic, until I own up that I surfaced to look once. We have thoroughly enjoyed our easy dives here Looe Key is excellent!

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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!