Saturday, October 6, 2001

Spearfishing in Pristine Coral Reef of Gulf of Mexico

Good buddies of mine in Florida invited me to go on this special "hard-core" spearfishing trip from Clearwater near Tampa, Florida. We were taken to a place called, "The Middleground" - literally the middle of nowhere in Gulf of Mexico. It took us overnight by boat to get there.

The dive site was deep. We dove about 100-130 feet of water, so almost every dive was a decompression dive. Contrary to the perception of the depth for the scuba diving, I was amazed at the fact that the place was STILL that shallow because we were diving in the middle of  the big ocean - a few hundred miles offshore. It would be several thousand feet deep if it were in Hawaii. Later I found out the place was sort of an underwater atoll risen from the deep.

Due to the depth confinement, we only had several minutes of bottom time in each dive, but the abundance of big fish and the beauty of the pristine, deep coral reef impressed me the most. The reef was mainly composed of large sponges and fire corals. I thought seeing excessive numbers of hazardous fire corals was very strange, but later I learned how colorful and pretty the fire coral reef actually was.

The oldest captain said this place was like the Florida Keys 50 years ago in terms of the number of fish and the size of fish. That's perhaps true because I've never seen this many big groupers or humongous hogfishes in Florida Keys. Good old days still exist here, I guess.

* Please note that all recognizable people in this batch are model released. A copy of release is available upon request. Please also note that all spearfishing pictures are not available for any uses that promote anti-spearfishing campaign. They are buddies of mine who enjoy the activity very much. Thanks for understanding ;-)

sponge and fire coral reef at 130ft., colonies of fire coral, Millepora alcicornis, inhabit predominantly, Middlegrounds, 100 miles offshore of Tampa, Florida, USA, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean

spearfisherman with good catches - hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, off Tampa, Florida, USA, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Model Released - MR#: 000014

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