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mantastrip1 mantastrip2 mantastrip3 Manta Ray - Flower Gardens, Gulf of Mexico 2000 dutchwestindies From Arkansas to the Dutch West Indies 2007 miscstrip1 Misc Strip 2 Misc strip 3 Misc strip 4 All images Copyright 2009 Michael Tierney

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Swimming in liquid topaz

Dive Log 7:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Bimini Chain -- June 23, 1999
Half-Pipe Reef
Tuna Alley
Bull Run
Wrecks of the Rita and the Miami: Night Dive

Half-Pipe Reef

The ship had headed back South, and we were now working our way along the smaller islands of the Bimini Chain. The Half-Pipe Reef was a reef wall that dropped down 2,000 feet. Did a 43 minute dive to 110 feet.

This was the only time that I ever felt a twinge of discomfort at the sight of a shark, when I spotted one headed straight at me from way out in the dark blue of the deep sea. I was about a hundred yards out in front of the rest of the group, and continued along the reef, but kept an eye on the shark.

This was no reef shark, but an oceanic breed, and it maintained its course to pass directly between myself and the group. It's back was arched and pectoral fins down. Knowing that's not a good sign, I decided it would be a good idea to slow down and rejoin the rest of the group.

Didn't see that shark again.

Half Pipe 1 Half Pipe 2 Half Pipe 3 Half Pipe 4 Half Pipe 5 Half Pipe 6 Half Pipe 7 Half Pipe 8 Half Pipe 9

Tuna Alley

This was a 64 foot dive, with a bottom time of 52 minutes. Saw the usual 7 foot reef sharks and big barracuda, along with a brown spotted eel.

Tuna Alley is a spot where Ernest Hemingway and others used to make huge catches. The area is now fished out.

There are no more tuna in Tuna Alley.

Tuna Alley Tuna Alley 1 Tuna Alley 2 Tuna Alley 3 Tuna Alley 4 Tuna Alley 5 Tuna Alley 6 Tuna Alley 7 Tuna Alley 8 Tuna Alley 9

Bull Run

This was our scheduled 'Shark Dive,' for which they'd had us sign legal releases when first boarding the ship. If someone were injured or died, even as a result of negligence by the Blackbeard's crew, we'd already signed our lives away in a pledge that both we and our heirs would not hold them liable.

Below, there was a natural amphitheater surrounded by reef ridges, where they had us backed up against the walls of the coral heads. They then ran a spear loaded with shark food down a rope. Since this was a weekly occurance, the reef and nurse sharks were already gathering while we descended. Once that spear hit bottom, the feeding frenzy was on!

But before we entered the water, Yolanda, the Blackbeard's Divemaster, gave us a breifing that I would hear again on future shark dives. Whatever you do, during a feeding frenzy you never want to break from the group and swim for the surface. This would probably trigger a shark attack, and could be fatal. After hearing this, one diver asked: "But what if someone's waiting down there, and swims out from behind the coral and cuts our air hose?" He was quite serious.

With no land anywhere in sight, I think the paranoia got the better of him. What'd he think? Someone was sitting down there on a stack of air tanks?

After the show was over, I did some exploring of the surrounding coral canyons. Well fed nurse sharks hadn't swam far away, and were napping.

Finally got to see some Sand Worms before they hid.

Bull Run 1 Bull Run 2 Bull Run 3 Bull Run 4 Bull Run 5 Bull Run 6 Bull Run 7 Bull Run 8

Wrecks of the Rita and the Miami: Night Dive

Since this was a shallow dive in only 37 feet of water, we hadn't dived it before doing a night dive. This was only a 55 minute dive for me, and I came back up with 1200 P.S.I. of air left because another, elderly diver became disorientated and dazed during the dive. The Divemaster needed to stay with the group, so I signaled that I'd take him back to the boat.

The wrecks of the Rita and the Miami are reportedly haunted by the ghost of Captain Yellowhair and his crew of the Miami, and human remains have been seen on previous dives.

It was a fairly surreal sight, what with the lights of all the other divers flashing across the entangled wreckage. The sleeping stingray didn't care for the flash from my strobe light, flashing his barbed tail.

Miami Wreck 1 Miami Wreck 2 Miami Wreck 3 Miami Wreck 4 Miami Wreck 5


Up next, the last day of diving on this cruise; exploring a the wreck of a World War I ship that is referenced in the legend of the Burmuda Triangle, and make my deepest dive ever down a reef wall. Plus, I do some free diving along the legendary Road to Atlantis.

Dive Log 8:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Bimini Chain -- June 24, 1999
Nodules Reef Wall -- Drift Dive
Victory Reef
Wreck of the Sapona
Bimini Road (to Atlantis)/Gun Key


Sapona 3




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