Mar 22

Blue Heron Bridge – East side

My last day of diving this week was a Thursday with threatening weather out of the south.  I decided to dive the BHB (Blue Heron Bridge, see here and here) solo, and stay on the east side in 20 feet of water.  There weren’t too many people there.  I decided to work the east side under the low bridge, because of the wrecks underneath the bridge and all of the animals that can be found within.  I’d heard something about seahorses, and hoped to find some myself.

I entered the water about 20 minutes before slack high tide, which was 2:12 PM. Now that’s an easy schedule!  For some reason the board near the water’s edge had a high tide time of 2:30 posted; check some tables if you’re making plans.  The water temperature was 72, air temp about the same.  Using a 3mm suit and a hood, it was doable, but I was pushing it. Visibility was about 20″, but when the current changed at the end of my dive – about an hour and 15 minutes later – the vis dropped to less than 10 feet over less than five minutes.

A lot of the best photo opportunities can be found in the shallow sand leading up to the channel under the bridge, in only 8-12 feet of water, just where the slope rolls off into the 20″ region.  You are supposed to tow one of those damned surface markers here, and I did – but none of the 10 other divers that I saw were using one.  WTF?  It’s a pain to tow one because they can get tangled with fishing lines from people fishing off of the bridge, and it is one more thing to handle when you’ve got a camera.  Between handling the float, the camera, standard dive safety things, trying not to blunder into other divers in the murk and sometimes low vizibility, and remembering not to dive near the swimming beach – there’s a lot to keep in mind here.  Luckily, it’s so shallow, and so close to shore, that it doesn’t strike me as a particularly dangerous place to dive.

First, as always around BHB, the ubiquitous arrow crab.

Juvenile Gray Angelfish.  This animal will grow up to have a very different coloration; see the animal in the background in this image.

Flounders are miraculous creatures.  They are invisible until they move, and then they are graceful as they swim with a rippling motion.  This”eyed” flounder – funny name, given that they all have eyes – is almost undetectable, blending in with the sand and broken shells on the bottom.

Under the bridge it is like a spooky underworld cathedral.  The bridge’s columns march into obscure distance and indistinct blue light.  Although it is the Lake Worth lagoon – a stretch of sea water protected by a barrier island, and fed by fresh water too from a number of sources – it might as well be the river Styx.  The bodies of several small sailboats lie under the bridge, swathed in continual gloom and watched over by large schools of spadefish.  The schools can be so large that on occasion, as they flow around you, it can be disorienting, like flying through a flock of mirrors.  The presence of a large school appearing out of the misty darkness can be a little frightening, as it first seems to be the body of an enormous animal.  The bottom, particularly under the wrecks, teems with otherworldly life.  A five-foot southern stingray, looking like a fleshy stealth fighter, rippled from the nothingness beyond my line of sight and, upon seeing me, spun on its axis and disappeared into the haze, followed by a retinue of remoras.  Had it been a vision?  I knelt on the bottom and stared at the activity, awed and soaking in the spiritual moment.  Photography was superfluous.  Overhead, cars rumbled over the bridge, oblivious to the world below.

A bright plastic object – a fishing lure – distracted me.  Surrounded by a cloud of fish, it was being gigged up and down by its owner 25 feet overhead on the bridge sidewalk.  The fish were nibbling at the attached piece of squid, getting some meat but not taking the hook.  The fisherman had no idea what he was up against; a small army of animals with miniature tweezer mouths and lighting reaction times.  I was having trouble seeing it – and it was only 5 feet away; I was also shivering.  Time to go back!  Total dive time: 72 minutes, and only 1/2 of my air consumed.

No comments

No Comments

Leave a comment