Dive Team: Dave Miller, Matt Miller, Shane Miller, Holly Miller, Jacque Miller, Rosie Miller
Date: December 23, 2007
Shane’s first dive at age 13. A great introductory river dive. The dive boat coasted 1.1 mile downriver to K.P. Hole County Park as Rosie, Jacque and Holly snorkeled nearby. Below Matt, Shane and Dave were scuba diving in the spring fed river viewing various fish hiding in the grasses. We spent time sticking our arms down to our elbows in the thermal spring underwater “blowholes” hoping to grab a shark tooth.
Dave’s 45th dive and Holly’s second ocean dive after diving the Benwood shipwreck earlier in the morning. We dove 50 minutes at a depth of 30 to 38 feet. Holly led the way swimming inside a swim-through cave called Sand Bottom Cave. In the cave we viewed six large silver snapper. Later we saw our first giant eagle ray half submerged in the sand. Very abundant reef as we saw beautiful coral and thousands of fish. Returning toward the dive boat we swam once again through Sand Bottom Cave this time seeing a large angelfish and a school of butterfly fish. We had lunch at my favorite restaurant, The Galley. I had mahi-mahi and Holly had calamari and shrimp quesadillas.
Saw several nurse sharks, sea turtle, barracuda, green and spotted moray eels. Vibrant reefs with porkfish, angelfish, groupers, filefish, spadefish, grouper, trumpetfish, trunkfish, sea fans, colorful coral and thousands of small fish. Had lunch at Holiday Isle Raw Bar and we both ordered “Jaws” – the famous large fish sandwich & fries.
It was CJHS Spring Break, so Matt and I headed to the Florida Keys pulling the pop-up camper. We stayed at the Fiesta Key Resort KOA. Our pop-up camper was 25 feet from the edge of the Gulf of Mexico with a fantastic view at sunset. We enjoyed two days of great diving and ate our first ever key lime pie. On the third night, Dave went to the campground bathroom at 2:40am and the weather channel was flashing that severe thunderstorms with 60mph winds would hit the keys in 10 minutes. Dave ran back, lowered the pop-up camper a few feet and hung on as the camper was battered by rain and high wind for three hours. Next morning, tents and camper awnings were scattered around the campground but we were fine. Sadly, due to moderate winds and high swells our third day of diving was cancelled.
We made alternative plans. Matt & I snorkeled the 10 foot deep waters about 50 yards out from our campground and we saw dozens of lobsters. Matt pulled at their antennas. We celebrated at an all-you-can eat seafood restaurant where we tried many things we had never eaten before. We made 8 total dives at Islamorada with Holiday Isle Divers.
Our favorite dive was Ham Reef or Hamasarus Reef, where, at a depth of 34 feet, we saw six nurse sharks, many moray eels, grouper, parrotfish, barracuda, lobster and many more. We also had our first large sea turtle encounter.
We dove just one of the many areas of Molasses Reef, one of the world’s most popular reefs. The depth of our 55 minute dive at Coral Canyon ranged from 15 to 25 feet. Matt & I saw our first shark – a four foot long nurse shark. We also saw our first scorpionfish. We also viewed beautiful coral, squirrelfish, barracuda, grunts, angelfish, porkfish and trumpetfish. We even had two NASA aquanauts on board our dive ship who were living nearby underwater in the 45 foot long Aquarius Laboratory.
Located at the Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef the famous nine foot tall “Christ of the Abyss” statue is in only 25 feet of water making it a popular snorkel and dive site. The statue, made by the Italian Sculpture Galletti, was placed in these protected waters around 1966. During our 35 minute dive over six fingers of the reef we spotted large brain corals (Photo#3), butterfly fish, jacks and tangs. Sadly, the once beautiful coral around the statue is gray in color and has died due to careless divers and snorkelers who have stepped on the coral.
After a successful morning manatee hunt on Crystal River where we snorkeled nearly an hour with two adults and a baby manatee (Photo #1 & #2), the American Pro dive boat took us westward to Kings Bay. At a site called King Spring we did our first cavern dive. We dove down 35 feet to a reef that had hundreds of small fish. In the distance behind some large rocks was the entrance to the cavern. We descended, turned on our dive lights and entered the cavern. As we swam to the cavern’s maximum depth of 47 feet we saw many fossils embedded in the walls. One room of the cavern was called “Catfish Closet” as 4 large catfish hung out in a dark recessed hole. We swam to another room and turned off our dive lights creating a solid black labyrinth. Turning our lights back on we swam to another area of the cave where our divemaster showed us how to create a “air bubble hot springs”. In turn, we removed our air regulator from our mouth and blew bubbles of air watching them float to the top of the cave and “boil”.
Matts first Florida dive at age 14. We boarded the American Pro dive boat at K.P. Hole County Park and motored 1.1 miles upstream. The Rainbow River Float Dive was a 1.1 mile underwater dive back downstream with the current. Matt and I dove in for the 65 minute dive and were amazed. The clear spring water had incredible 175 feet of visibility. The river bottom depth varied from 10 to 19 feet and was a mix of sand, grass and the occasional bubbling underground spring. We saw catfish, turtles, bass and gar.
Dive Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Miller, Matt Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller
Dive Date: June 2008
We booked the Manatee Dive with American Pro Divers. Cruising the Crystal River we spotted several adult manatees and one baby manatee. We entered the water and for over 30 minutes snorkeled, observed and floated with them. Matt and Dave got in trouble from the guide once for diving down and watching two manatees in their underground habitat eating sea grass. We were supposed to stay on the surface and let them come to us, which they did. We were able to touch them and gently rub them. The baby was so cute.
Dive Team: Rosie Miller, Holly Miller, Jacque Miller
As part of the week-long Disney Cruise Trip from Texas throughout the Caribbean, the ship spent a day anchored at Grand Cayman Island. The girls took a bus to a boat then to a location where they could feed and pet and even kiss large stingrays in shallow water. After many initial screams by Jacque as the rays swam in and out of their legs they got to hold and feed squid to the rays. Later they snorkeled (Photo#3) and watched the rays below. Rosie said they had a great time and felt one with the rays while snorkeling in their habitat.
They left to visit a turtle conservatory and then off to “Hell”, a group of short, black limestone formations (Photo#4) about the size of half a football field. The formations were jagged, spongy looking and gave you an impression of what hell might really look like.