By Natalie, with Dive with Natalie and Ivan.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of taking my friend Jen from Turtle Bay Cafe diving with me. We have been friends for years, and last week she finally took the time to join me and I am so glad she did. Ivan and I had her equipment ready as she pulled up at 8:45 and by 9:00 we were descending to the reef.
It was a lovely fall day with flat seas and sunshine. We drifted down to a spot on top of the reef, at about 80 feet of depth, where you can peek down the sloping reef as it drops to 150 feet. We searched the canyons that form cracks and ridges in the coral covered slope. We followed the ridge of the slope for about 10 minutes. Jen found a large lobster and then we turned down one of the canyons and followed it. The canyon became shallower until the walls that had risen 50 feet were only five feet tall.
A large green turtle cruised towards us with two chubby remoras hitching a ride - one on the turtle's stomach and the other on its back. He was in no hurry. A few minutes later a hock's bill turtle swam past in mid-water eyeing the sponges and trying to decide where to set down and munch.
As we continued across the reef, we found a little cave in the coral. I peeked in one side and from there I could clearly see the tale of a green moray eel. I signaled the group and pointed to the other end of the little cave. From there, we could see the head and entire body of a 6 foot moray eel.
A few minutes later we were at the shallow end of the reef. Here you could see where the last fingers of reef poked out over the 50 foot sand bar. I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and turned. Over the sand, the outline of a swimming shark was visible. Jen was a little closer, and as I got the two other diverís attention, we both pointed out where the shark slowly cruised over the sand and fingers of the reef. The shark lazily disappeared into the reef as it continued itís course. It was Jen's first time seeing a reef shark. They are very shy. She believes it was a black tip reef shark. A very lucky sighting.
A few minutes later, some of our diver's were down to their reserve and had to make a slow ascent and safety stop with Ivan, while I continued with Jen and one other diver. We crossed the sandbar and continued on a 40 foot reef. Just before it was time for us to end a one hour dive, we came upon a sleeping nurse shark. His head was under some coral, but most of his body was hanging out of his hiding spot. There was a hole you could peek through and see his nose and eye. We all checked him out, then let him enjoy his nap as we departed to the surface.
This was a stunning dive and what made it even better for Ivan and me was to share it with our friends, Cameron, Scott and Jen!
Tip - Why do an 80 foot, 30 minute dive, when you can start at the same depth and multi-level up, extending your bottom time to up to an hour. Our whole dive was beautiful, but we found the two sharks, and the moray eel in our the last half hour of exploration. If we had only done the traditional 80 feet, 30 minutes profile, we would have missed out on the best parts of the dive!
To learn more about Dive with Natalie and Ivan visit their website.