Saturday, 26 November 2011

Beyond the Thunderdome

Last week Andrew and I did our first live aboard dive trip on the Turks and Caicos Explorer II. Although the boat holds up to 20 guests, it was very nice there were only nine of us which made it easier to get to know people and provided a bit of extra room on the dive deck. It was a great group of people/experienced divers from US & Canada and this was complemented by five great crew members who looked after us very well -- Captain Ken (Texas), Chef Stan (Turks and Caicos), Engineer Mark (Jamaica), Pursor Polly (Vancouver), and Dive Masters Lynn (Florida) and Brandt (Washington).

Lynn blowing the conch shell to signal it's time to dive!
We dove three main areas -- Northwest Point of Providenciales, West Caicos and French Cay. One of my favourite dives was one off the Northwest Point. 

Thunderdome is a great dive site that we did both as a shallow daytime dive and as a night dive. The Dome is a “wreck”, which has some interesting history.

“This was once the site of a French television game show (circa 1990”s) . . . Contestants had to free-dive through a rectangular opening in the top of the dome and ask for air from one of several ‘mermaids’ equipped with air tanks and an octopus regulator. If you asked the wrong one for air, you received only a breath or two and had to swim like mad for the surface. The show was cancelled after several contestants suffered air embolisms and had to go to the local recompression chamber.

The dome itself is a large, heavy, steel-mesh structure that sits upright on a flat sand bottom in about 35 or 40ft of water. A couple of sections of the dome have fallen off the structure, leaving one side open and easy to penetrate.”  (Diving and Snorkeling Turks & Caicos, Lonely Planet, 2001)

There is also further damage to the structure due to hurricanes but it still provides a great area for fish and other sea creatures to hang around. Even though they’re on the inside, you can still see through to them. These were likely some of the largest groups of fish we saw and the most variety in one place. Sting rays, spotted drum, peacock flounder, yellow goatfish, spotted goatfish, blennies, jacks, queen angelfish; on the night dive we saw sting rays, two big sea turtles, nudibranchs, and a very large green moray eel. 

spotted moray eel

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