Tela’s Newest Dive Site
To our delight, over the weekend we got to explore two brand new spots in Tela. It all started Friday when we began planning our dives. Armed with a map and a few exploratory GPS points, we had our sights set on adventure.
The first reef we visited had been marked in the GPS as Flor, after the fisherman named Flor who is frequently found floating above in his wooden canoe. We found the reef and dropped down to 17m (55 feet) to find a dark, murky, algae-filled habitat. This was a far cry from the mountains of Agaricia coral common in Tela.
Being the total coral nerd that we are, we discovered this was the perfect habitat for Scolymia corals and enjoyed spending the dive scanning the mud looking for little gems.
We named the site Arrecife de Flor, which translated from Spanish means, Flower Reef. And it was just that, a little reef full of colorful flowers. But this wasn’t what we set out to find, we wanted more!
We set off to the second GPS point, this one above a small blip on the map that showed the typical Tela dive profile, reefs starting at 10m (32 feet) and dropping off around 20m (65 feet). We approached the mark and threw the anchor.
We geared up and quickly descended to 11m (35 feet) and were greeted by the familiar Agaricia tenuifolia coral, but this time the reef was different. There seemed to be less of the thin leafy blades and more open space for other coral species to grow.
A few minutes into the dive we came across some bright yellow bouquets of Madracis mirabilis, a small branching coral with fuzzy extended polyps. Already we knew this dive was special.
The Porites asteroides corals were tucked between large Gorgonian sea fans and the light hitting this reef created the perfect pastel pallet. And perhaps we’ve just got used to seeing all these corals but we noticed more fish on this dive than any other dive.
As this was a new site our goal was to cover as much ground as possible and identify the best location to place a buoy. We swam over a handful of ridges until we came to a wide sandy valley with a huge colony of Orbicella in the center. This was it.
We attached a temporary line and shot a surface marker buoy to the top. After we ended the dive we headed up grinning ear to ear. We hopped on the boat doubled back to our market buoy and set a new GPS point. And lucky would have it when we got on the boat Antal proposed to name the site Nikki’s Reef!
The next day we headed back and cemented a chain in place. To avoid fishermen using the buoy the research center opts to attached a sunken buoy which stays a meter or less under the water.
During this dive we didn’t have much time to explore, as installing the chain took up more than half our dive. Next time we visit Nikki’s Reef we will be mapping the area around the buoy. Stay tuned for more updates!