Flower Gardens Trip Report August 9, 1996
Page 2 of 3

Clear water

Brain Coral Everywhere
Brain Coral was common.


Squirrel Fish

We arrived at the gardens at 11:00 PM Thursday night and found two commercial dive boats out of Freeport, the Fling and the Spree, already moored. We settled in for the night, and our neighbors left about 3:00 AM. One of the captains demonstrated the power of their searchlights and engines as they left. The other captain, a lady, eased her craft away from the area with minimal lights and noise. She mentioned to the other captain over the radio that their neighbors may want to sleep. We appreciated her thoughtfulness and wondered how the clients on the other boat felt about their method of departure.

Friday morning we looked over the side and watched the fish swiming around the coral. The ripples on the surface seemed to limit the visibility more than the water quality. There were a few spots where white sand could be seen very clearly among the coral heads. We made our first dive after a cup of coffee. There is a great deal of coral at the Flower Gardens, especial brain coral. Lloyd usually spends most of his time in the "canyons" between the coral to see what might be hiding under it. There were a lot of small tunnels that the fish used to avoid us, but they didn't go far away. I watched from above so I could get the "big picture", knowing Lloyd would get my attention if he found something interesting. When diving in the gulf, and probably most other places, it is important to look up and around quite a bit. While it probably didn't happen on this trip, it is not uncommon for a big ray to glide overhead without being seen because the bottom is so beautiful.

While at the Flower Gardens, we saw Angelfish, Barracuda, Chubs, Filefish, Flutefish, Groupers, Parrotfish, Snapper, Squirrelfish, Triggerfish, Trunkfish, Wrasse, and many others. Objects appeared very blue because of the depth, and most of the pictures enhanced the blue by the characteristics of the film. Pictures were taken by an Aquashot housing, but without the water correcting lense required for closeups and macros.Ikelite was kind enough to ship the lens overnight, but there was some confusion regarding the day the plane was supposed to leave. It arrived the day I left. This problem aside, the camera housing appears to perform well, and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

I always enjoy the Barracuda. They seem to line up as if to protect our perimeter while we dive, constantly aware, but less than interested. We had one juvenile that hadn't mastered looking bored by our presence. He followed me at my right arm for quite a while. Even at his size I elected not to give him his first lesson on strobe flashes. After a while he grew bored and left. His grandfather joined me at about 30 feet on the way up. We stared at each other for a moment. After a dental exam at about arm's length I can state that his teeth were in fine shape. As they are prone to do, they just watch the activities in the neighborhood, then move along.

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Copyright © 1996 Randall C. Allen - All rights reserved
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