Yet another wonderful week of Belizean diving has dawned upon us. Belize Aggressor welcomes Bryan, Jon & Theresa, Steve & Marcie, Paul & Alicia, Yuri & Irina, Frank & Audrey, Peter, Scott, Natalie & Stefan, Tom & Jim. After a quick orientation, our guests acquainted themselves with the yacht and each other and then the Belize Aggressor III departed from Fort George headed for Turneffe Atoll and the exploration of the world’s second largest barrier reef begins. A rather uneventful passage found us at our safe haven night mooring at Sandy slope where all received a peaceful nights rest.
Weary bodies started appearing from the depths of their cabins to enjoy Chef Anna’s breakfast spread that would fuel our bodies for a great days diving. Sandy slope welcomed us with astounding viability. Yellow head Jawfish peered from their homes to observe the strange aquatic mutations swimming by. Audrey even managed to find a male with eggs. Go girl! Lobster, spotted eels and arrow crabs joined the parade as we enjoyed the beauty that Turneffe has to offer. What a fantastic checkout dive. Black beauty was next on our list. Off the bat we encountered 2 spotted eagle rays performing a fly-by parade with astonishing grace. A concophony of tank bangers filled the water with hot pursuit following. These delightful creatures out swam us with ease. Shortly after the eagle rays departed, we came across a squadron of squid in formation. I guess we got a little too close to them when they suddenly disappeared leaving a cloud of ink in their trail. The night dive produced some rather boisterous Tarpon just below the yacht and squid danced about putting on an elegant display for the keen photographers among us. Shortly after the night dive the Belize Aggressor III made passage over to Lighthouse reef.
Our next dive adventure took us to Julie s’ Jungle on Long cay. With a jungle of soft coral swaying in the ebb and flow of a mild surge, we were in for a treat. Arrow crabs, Pederson cleaner shrimp and neck crabs all made there presence felt as the photographers started capturing their little performance. We also had large spiny lobsters peering out from their homes to have a look at the gaggle of divers passing by. as we headed to Long cay wall. Turtles really came out to play. Ardent turtle lovers were in absolute bliss as strobes fired haphazardly lighting up these majestic creatures. This was certainly an extraordinary experience as we were ushered by this extremely friendly hawksbill turtle who seemed to be showing off his neighborhood. The wall offered yet more soft sponges housing slender file fish, arrow crabs and neck crabs. A big school of horse eye jacks swirled just off the wall and tarpon were cruising the edge of the wall waiting for night fall to feast. We were spoilt with a great days diving yet again.
A trip to Belize would not be complete without a visit to the world famous Blue Hole. We fueled our bodies with the chef’s fortifying breakfast and then embarked on this memorable dive. Mighty stalactites towered over us about 20 feet high. They also displayed as beautiful silhouettes against the sunburst above. This antediluvian sinkhole is accolade to Mother Nature’s skillful architecture and we were privileged to share it’s splendor. After this exhilarating dive, we decided to explore Halfmoon cay by land. We stretched our legs a bit as we meandered the footpaths leading to the Red footed boobies. Along the way we encountered iguanas, hermit crabs and numerous lizards. Once we received our booby fix, we returned to where Chef Anna had grilled up a storm resulting in cheese burgers in paradise. Cheese burgers in paradise allowed a archetypal tropical setting for lunch with swaying palms and subtle sounds from the Caribbean sea creating a relaxing ambiance. We soon returned to the diving part of the ‘eat, sleep and dive’ equation with Painted wall off of Long cay. This is truly an amazing shallow dive. Bermuda Chub and Sergeant majors enveloped us completely and it was virtually impossible to see our fellow divers. With beautiful water the sun rays were glistening from the surface creating a surreal experience. The frantic activities of the cleaning stations gain our undivided attention and we simply could not keep up with the activities. Parrotfish stop in for a trim and wash. Gullies, sand chutes and a stunning wall provided ample exploring prospects. Puffers and Trumpet fish to name a few, kept us so busy we did not know where to look. The astonishing colors made this an idyllic caribbean dive. A great way to end a fine days diving.
A beautiful morning dawned upon us on Long cay. After a nourishing breakfast Dos Cocos was next. This dive showcases much of the best Belize has to offer. As we descended we were greeted by numerous swirling Horse eyed jacks underneath the yacht and majestic Tarpon patrolling their village. Lobsters, various moray eels, tarpon, eagle rays, large black groupers languidly enjoying the warm clear water every bit as much as the divers. Again Audrey managed to find a male yellow head jawfish with eggs. During lunch the yacht was steered toward Half moon cay. We enjoyed the afternoon discovering Half Moon and it’s finer intricacies. Half moon wall was the flavor of the morning. The splendor of the wall revealed itself with striking sponges and wafting gorgonian sea fans providing shelter to a number of Arrow crabs and Banded coral shrimps. It lived up to its reputation of being the best dive in the area producing an array of marine beauty. The nursery was bustling with juveniles of various kinds playing in the conch shells. Stingrays and bar jacks were digging in the sand and elusive pipe fish here playing hide and seek with us in the turtle grass. What an amazing exploit this dive offered.
Morning broke over Half moon as we headed to Terneffe atoll. Grand bogue was next on our agenda. This, one of my personal favorites, offers a little of everything for everyone. Here we find a nursery for juveniles a wide variety. Stingrays and bar jacks scurry along the sand looking for a snack. The amazing wall is filled with color, encompassing large gorgonian fans wafting in the mild surge, massive barrel sponges and tube sponges made us appreciate the natural wonders of Turneffe. Even a little pipehorse made an appearance and proved to be a willing model for the photographers in the group. After a refreshing lunch, Front porch was next. This dive showcases much of the best Belize has to offer with lobsters, various moray eels, tarpon, eagle rays, large black groupers languidly enjoying the warm clear water every bit as much as the divers. After this awesome dive it was time for the Belize Aggressor to make way back to Turneffe Atoll. The night dive at Amberhead produced Turneffe's nocturnal ensemble. Spotted toadfish croaked the night awayand made a ‘full monty’ appearance. An octopus amazed us with it's graceful late night stroll over the reef and a tiny burr fish hovered around sleepily bumping into coral. This brought to a close a fun action packed day.
For the finale we moved up to Amberhead further north on the west side of Turneffe. This dive proved to be a fantastic way the end the trip. With startling viability, we were once again spoilt. Blue chromis were scattered as far as the eye could see, creole wrasse were buzzing by, Lobster and even a curious spotted toadfish were all out and about to bid us farewell. What a find and a way to end this ‘unBelizable’ adventure.
So the week comes to a close. We would like to congratulate Natalie for completing her Digital Underwater Photography course and Bryan for being a great sport.
All of us here on the Belize Aggressor III wish our new friends a safe trip home and a speedy return to eating, sleeping and diving the Aggressor way!