Danny McCauley Reef – August 26, 2017

Water Temp: 59° F
Max Depth: 79 ft.
Start Time: 9:06 am
Dive Duration: 34 min.
Weather: Overcast
Wind: SSW @ 7 mph
Thermal: @ 20’, 37’ & 53’

Air Temp: 79° F
Current: None at depth,
  1.5 kts at surface
Visibility: horiz. 50 ft., vert. 50 ft.
Seas: 1-2 ft.
Boat: Deep Obsession
Lat/Long: 26°47.623/80°01.090

   The goal for this dive was to note the condition of the site, obtain fish counts and video benthics.
   The tug was deployed on February 22nd, 2013. Built in Ontario, Canada in 1944, this 110-foot tugboat was sunk in approximately 80 feet of water about 1.5 miles northeast of the Lake Worth Inlet. This area is already a permitted artificial reef site and contains vessels sunk by Palm Beach County in the 1960s, large concrete pieces from the old Royal Park Bridge, several barges and another smaller tugboat. This reef provides a stepping stone between the older reef placements to the south and the Royal Park Bridge materials to the north.
   The process to purchase, prepare, and sink the Pocahontas was overseen by ERM staff at a total cost of $35,000. The McCauley Family donated $10,000 and asked that the new reef be named the “Danny McCauley Memorial Reef” in honor of their son, a popular student at Palm Beach Central High School and an avid fisherman and diver. Since his death, his family has celebrated Danny’s life and sought to leave this reef as part of his legacy.
   Since the current at the surface was so strong, the captain gave us a long lead into the wreck so we had to swim a distance before reaching the site. At the surface the water temperature was close to 80°, but an upwelling at depth had the water temperature down to 59°!! It was FLIPPIN’ COLD!! As we approached the ship, we could see several Goliath Grouper hanging about. Once on the ship, over 12 Goliaths were counted in just one area. At the bow of the ship, two Goliaths were “spooning” and several others throughout the site were grayed out ready to spawn.
   The ship is covered in growth ranging from sponges to algae. The Celtic cross is missing from atop the wheel house, but the other cross is still intact with the top at a depth of 53’. At the bow, sand has scoured out about 4’ making the depth to the sand 77’ with a minimum relief of 54’. The top of the wheelhouse, which is also the highest point of the ship, is at a depth of 49’. The stern of the ship has a minimum relief of 64’, 79’ to the sand, with about 3’ of scouring.
   Fish noted on this site, besides the Goliath Groupers, were: two Scrawled Filefish, a Goldspot Goby, a couple of huge Queen Angelfish and a small Spotted Eel.
   Video was on a small format and didn’t get close enough to substrate for clear identification. Some benthics noted were: Slender feather hydroid, red orange encrusting sponge, pink lumpy sponge, star encrusting sponge, vase sponge, branching vase sponge, branching tube, brown variable, green finger, pearly orange briozoane and black tunicates.

 

Tri-County Reef – August 26, 2017

Water Temp: 60° F
Max Depth: 58 ft.
Start Time: 10:39 am
Dive Duration: 25 min.
Weather: Overcast
Wind: S @ 14 mph
Thermal: yes @ 48’

Air Temp: 84° F
Current: N @ .25 kts at depth,
  2 kts at surface
Visibility: horiz. 60 ft.; vert. 60 ft.
Seas: 1-2 ft.
Boat: Deep Obsession
Lat/Long: 26°45.802/80°01.302

   The goal for this dive was to note the condition of the site, obtain fish counts and video benthics.
   Tri-County Reef consists of about 6,500 tons of concrete light poles, drainage culverts, and other concrete deployed in 1989 and includes the remains of the steel yacht TSO Paradise that was scuttled in July of 1997 on the south end of the site. This site is an amazing habitat for sea life, both fish and benthics. It has been noted that a diver could see over 14 different types of coral on a single piece of concrete, as well as more than 90 species of fish!
   This was another wickedly cold dive due to a cold upwelling, but if you stayed at about 48’ it was tolerable. It was too cold even for the fish!
   The team dropped in on the southern end of the site near the bow section of the yacht which is tipped over on its port side. At the southern end of the site there were very few fish, just a Goliath Grouper and a few other brave fish, including a Townsend Angelfish. As we progressed north through the site, large groups of Black Margates and Tomtates were noted. Other fish spotted were a Gag Grouper, Spanish Grunts, Spotfin Hogfish, Scrawled Filefish, even a Trumpetfish and a Midnight Parrotfish.
   A 2.5’ Hawksbill turtle was spotted swimming around.
   Two lionfish were spotted and one was eradicated.
   There is a lot of benthic growth on this site! Some of the coverage noted were:
Corals - Montastraea cavernosa, Solenastrea bournoni, Siderastrea sidera, Porites astreoides, Brain coral, Symmetrical brain coral, Knobby cactus coral
Gorgonians – Sea fan, Warty sea rod, Sea plum
Hydroids - Algae hydroids, Feather hydroids, Slender feather, Stinging bush hydroid, hydroid zoanthids
Sponges – branching vase, lavender rope, green finger, vase, pink lumpy, loggerhead, red orange encrusting, red encrusting, stinker, barrel, branching tube
Tunicates – White condo tunicates, Black tunicates
Turf algae
Three row sea cucumber

goldfish

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