Saturday, November 23, 2013

Diving the Gulf: Gulf vs Atlantic

For all of you that have been contemplating whether to dive the Gulf or travel to the other coast of Florida, let me shed some light on the topic. I have been diving the Gulf coast now for 10 years and have seen first-hand the amazing things divers get certified in the first place for. I hear all the time from people that never have even been in the Gulf, “I thought there’s nothing to see”. They then tell me other shops in the area told them this and then tried to sell them a trip somewhere else. Maybe the truth is that there is really great diving in the Gulf but since they don’t own the boats and make money off you diving here, they rather get you to book a trip where they can make money. Yes it is true we don’t have the tropical waters like the Cayman Islands but neither does Alaska and there is amazing things to see there as well. The fact of the, matter is the Gulf of Mexico has more bio diversity than anywhere in Florida period! I will stand behind that statement any day and in fact I will go as far and say that the Gulf has the best diving in Florida. It really comes down to opinion and what you consider good diving. Since I have had the chance to survey thousands of divers that have actually been in the Gulf the information I share is not just my opinion but thousands of peoples. If you look at the facts which are that the Gulf has two types of water one being the Gulf water which is green and then at about 18-20 miles out we get the blue water like you find in the Keys or the Atlantic. This creates bio diversity like no other. Here you get different water temperatures and salinity which has a huge effect on the marine life. Within the first 18 miles from shore the Gulf has many natural reefs in fact off Wiggins Pass in Naples you can dive one of the largest natural reefs right from the beach. You can also dive many natural ledges and sponge forests; I like to call them since they go on for a long distance. Then there are areas that have unique plant life and don’t forget the abundant amount of artificial reefs which now have tons of soft corals, sponges and an immense amount of fish species. Also the Gulf has underwater springs both fresh and saltwater which are the equivalent of the Seven Wonders of the World. I know of four springs, which are just absolutely awesome and like no other site you will ever see. With all this said you must remember, we became divers to have fun and see the underwater universe that is life changing for most people. Any dive can be a good dive if you go in the water with a good attitude, the proper training, the right equipment and something to see. If big fish, tons of fish, marine plants, corals and color make you happy, then the Gulf of Mexico has plenty to offer. Find an operator that has the experience like you would anywhere you dive and then you will certainly have a good time. For more information on diving the Gulf, feel free to contact me or our dive shop at 239-592-1200. By Capt. Mark Garcy