Fall Collecting Trip #10: Wreck Diving

Today was our last full day in the Bahamas, as well as our last collecting dives. Tomorrow we will need to begin preparing the fish for transportation to Boston, a process that will take almost a full 24-hour period.

The wreck of the Sapona (photo courtesy of Bill Murphy)

Our first dive of the day was at the wreck of the Sapona. The Sapona was built out of concrete around 1910 when traditional building supplies were scarce. It ran aground in 1926 and has been sitting in about 15’ of water off the coast of Bimini since then and has become a thriving artificial reef.

Bill entering the wreck of the Sapona

Once we entered the wreck we all came up to the surface to look around – it is amazing from the inside, sort of like a rusty cathedral with reinforcement bars jutting out all over the place.

Scott and Dave at the surface, inside the wreck

The R/V Coral Reef II as seen from the wreck of the Sapona (photo courtesy of Mariah Shore)

A quick check-in with all of the divers and we went back down. The most noticeable thing about the wreck is the sound; hundreds – perhaps thousands of snapping shrimp like the noisiest bowl of Rice Crispies you have ever heard.

A Diadema sea urchin in the rubble

Sergeant majors come and go

A southern stingray near the bottom of the hull

I am not sure if it was because we were so shallow, but it seemed like this site was especially busy with life. Huge schools of sergeant majors and grunts, as well as needlefish and two different types of stingrays.

A christmastree worm on coral

Yellow stingray

School of grunts

Needlefish near the surface

Collection on this dive was very successful; Sam and Dave caught a goldentail moray, and Sarah, Bill, Scott and Suzanne caught an adorable pair of balloonfish!

Tomorrow is our last day in the Bahamas, and it’s a little bittersweet. We will do a couple of dives (sans collecting) in the morning, and then we make the crossing back to Miami.


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