At the Top of Everyone’s Wish List This Summer: Shark Encounters
Did you see any SHARKS? That seems to be the biggest question going around in the world of diving in the Keys these days. Since the arrival of Kat, the OCEARCH tagged great white shark, many people in the middle and lower Keys have been fixated on the waters around the boat the entire time they’re out with us. I’ve never had so many look-outs on the boat at one time. We have been lucky enough to have the Gulf Stream currents up close for several weeks early this spring. This warm current has brought in many deep water predators, some of which include a large white shark and several sand bar sharks on the artificial reef, USNS Vandenberg; a blue shark sighting in shallow waters; as well as daily sightings of several reef sharks on our barrier reef.
Our local dive shops are very familiar with a few resident sharks that live on our reefs, the most diver-friendly shark in the area, known affectionately as Roxy, is a juvenile blacktip reef shark that visits us on practically every dive on one dive site. Recently we counted three new, larger blacktip sharks swimming on the same reef. There is much speculation as to their arrival but there is just so much we don’t know about the apex predators of the oceans.
After many years of reef decline and shark population demise I would like to hope that we are in the beginning stages of reef and shark population recovery. It could be that they are following the food sources and with the large pelagic species migrating north we are seeing more activity on both ends of the scale. More bait equals more fish that feed all the way up the chain. Either way, this will take years to see if a good change is happening but it’s really cool to watch it all unfold before us.
As of May 27th, the USNS Vandenberg has rested on the ocean floor for 5 years and the transformation has been amazing. We have watched as it went from a ghostly white hulk in 150 feet of water to the booming artificial reef it is today. There is life covering every inch of the ship and thousands of fish from the size of a dime up to that of a small car can be seen on the wreck. It’s amazing to see how fast nature takes back over in these situations. This wreck was done right and is the perfect wreck to visit for beginners whether it’s your seventh dive or your seven hundredth. This one never gets old, you see something new each time you dive it.
You can follow the sharks in real-time at OCEARCH’s website: http://www.ocearch.org/
We post daily dive site conditions and any sightings as they occur on our FaceBook page at: www.FaceBook.com/SouthpointDivers
Stay safe and happy diving, we’ll see you on the water.
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