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Summer’s here—and the Ocean Awaits!

Summer is Here

Summer’s here—and the Ocean Awaits!

Summer vacation doesn’t have to be a thing of the past—and we know just the place to visit. Jupiter, Florida! Imagine it: warm water, pristine reefs, exciting wrecks. Jupiter has something for every scuba diving enthusiast—and plenty for the non-divers in the family, too! Jupiter Dive Center is happy to announce we’re open for diving and we’ve taken considerable steps to ensure your vacation is safe and fun.

FUN FACT: Jupiter, Florida has warm water, tons of marine life, & healthy coral reefs. #JupiterSummer

Let’s start with the reef. A portion of the third largest barrier reef in the world runs parallel to the coast just a few miles from shore, providing a home to colorful tropical fish as well as a tremendous diversity of other marine life. It’s also part of a greater ecosystem that draws in larger pelagic animals.

Because of the proximity of the Gulf Stream, all of Jupiter Dive Center’s dives are drift dives, which allows divers to see more than you ever imagined as the current carries you along. At the end of the dive, the boat comes to you!

Looking for a wreck? We’ve got three on one dive when you dive our famed Wreck Trek. Look for goliath groupers who love to hang out in the large nooks and crannies of the Zion Train, Miss Jenny, and the Esso Bonaire. (And if you’ve never seen one of these gentle goliaths, their size can be a bit surprising. Imagine a VW Bug underwater!)

FUN FACT: Few places have more sea turtles in the water than Jupiter, Florida during nesting season.  #JupiterSummer

Centrally located on the Atlantic Coast, Jupiter, Florida is a premier destination with fabulous diving—and perfect for those who don’t want to gamble on making airline reservations. Our waterfront shop is easy to reach by major highways. Even better, we are a one-stop location with our boats mere steps from the store! Hotels are open and we can recommend several in the area that give our divers a special rate.

Safety is our highest priority—and we’ve adjusted some of our procedures to meet the challenges presented by the coronavirus. While restrictions may change at any time, our charters are currently limited to eight divers to comply with group gathering guidelines on deck. This also means reservations are highly recommended as our boats are selling out quickly.

Our safety precautions extend to our boats and crew as well. Our crew will be wearing gloves anytime they handle gear or tanks. The deck hand will be wearing gloves as divers get on and off the boat. A hose with fresh water will be available to rinse gear to avoid mixing multiple divers’ gear in rinse buckets.  On board, rails, benches and decks will be thoroughly cleaned before each charter. We are closely following the State guidelines and our policies and procedures may change as new guidelines are implemented or eased. 

FUN FACT: Goliath groupers return to Jupiter, Florida to spawn. #JupiterSummer

Our check-in procedures are new. In a nutshell, we are doing as much as we can in advance regarding payment and gear rental so we can sanitize and prepare things before you even arrive at the shop. Once here, you will see our entrance and exits are designated to help the flow of people in the shop where you need to check in and sign waivers. Please note, you must bring your certification cards. If you need a replacement, we’d be happy to order one for you, but this must be completed before the day of the charter. Seats on the boat will be assigned. The new procedures take a little bit more time, so please arrive promptly for check-in: 8:00a.m. for morning boats and 12:30p.m. for afternoon charters. To familiarize yourself with all of the procedures, click on our Temporary Procedures for Boat Charters link.

JUPITER, FLORIDA: Close to home, and a world away!

Summer is an exciting time to dive in Jupiter, Florida—and it’s a great place to take a fun and safe summer vacation! Sea turtles are already nesting and hang around until October. Goliath groupers are here year-round but their numbers skyrocket during August and September when they aggregate to spawn. You can catch your own lobster dinner during Florida’s July mini-season (or wait for the regular season to open in August). There’s even the occasional whale shark, hammerhead sharks, and manta rays that cruise through during warm months. So what are you waiting for? Dive in, the water’s fine! Call Jupiter Dive Center, today.

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To log or not to log?

To log or not to log? That is the question of many an experienced diver. After all, once you’re beyond logging the requisite number of dives for the next class you want to take, why bother? The answers might surprise you.

First off, logging your dives is easier than it’s ever been. Most dive computers can download your dive profile to an electronic logbook. Add in the name of the dive site, the equipment you used, buddy information, and conditions, and a wealth of information is available for recall with a few keystrokes.  This information is easily shared between your electronic devices.  Being able to access this information on the go is particularly beneficial.  Why?

Glad you asked. Most dive operators ask you to fill out the date of your last dive when you are completing your boat waivers. Many destination resorts ask for proof. If your log is on your phone, that’s one less thing to worry about packing.

But the reason behind the question is even more important. Dive skills are perishable. If you’ve been out of the water over a year, it may be time for a refresher—or when you take that giant stride off the boat, you may find yourself in over your head in more ways than you intended.

Divers often travel to their destinations. Perhaps you’re a photographer and you have the opportunity to return to a favorite destination from time to time. Remember that site in Little Cayman where the baby squid like to congregate? Or what about the frog fish that likes to hang out by the buoy. What was the name of that site again? If you logged your dives you’d know. Plus, if you logged your equipment, you’d also know exactly how you got the shot—or didn’t, and what to do next time.

Thinking of becoming a tec diver? What about an instructor? Maybe you’re a public safety diver. Depending on the position, there may be mandates to log your dives. Even without a mandate, for professionals, it’s considered best practice.

Even if you haven’t hit the ranks of professional diver, it’s still important to maintain your gear. Logbooks hold more information than just your dives. Do you remember when you last serviced your regulator? Did you take in your buoyancy compensator device at the same time? How about your tanks? Hydro, VIPs; all require regular service for safety reasons. At depth is not when you want to experience a malfunction that could have been prevented with regular service. Recording that information in your logbook eliminates the guesswork.

Speaking of guesswork.  How much weight do you use with your 5mm in freshwater? What about saltwater? How does that compare with your shorty? Are you feeling chillier when you dive lately? Using more weight? The greater your number of dives, the less effective your wetsuit becomes due to compression. Knowing how many dives you have on your wetsuit can help project when you’ll need a new one.

Need one more reason? Do you remember your first dive? All the silt you stirred up, the trepidation you felt, the thrill of being weightless?  Or how about the time you saw your first (you, fill in the blank)? What about the new friend you made when you were paired up with another solo diver? Dive logs offer a trip down memory lane. Which considering our current situation, is a gift.  Fortunately, when restrictions are lifted, we’ll be here—and we look forward to you logging your next dives with Jupiter Dive Center.

Book A Dive

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Intro to Tech Diving

Technical diving offers divers the ability to expand their underwater exploration and adventures, but to do so safely, you’ll need to add to the skills you learned in your open water course. Jupiter Dive Center offers a full slate of technical diving courses. We’ll discuss three separate courses, but it all starts with Intro to Tech Diving.

Intro to Tech Diving

The introductory tech diving course builds on everything you learned as a recreational diver. During the course you’ll learn in-depth dive planning, advanced buoyancy control, gas management, situational awareness, proper trim, gear configurations used for technical diving, and propulsion techniques—all things that will help you enhance your recreational diving experience. Divers wanting to take the course must already possess their open water diver certification and provide proof of 25 logged dives.

Academics are taught online by enrolling through Jupiter Dive Center for the eLearning component. This allows you to take your time to fully understand the fundamentals. Once that’s completed, you’ll meet your instructor for additional classroom time and then hit the pool to make sure you’re comfortable with new skills. Finally, it’s time to put it all in practice in the ocean with two instructional dives.

The cost of this course is $450, plus eLearning, boat trips, gear and tanks.

Decompression Procedures Diver

Are you finding your no-decompression limits (NDLs) a limiting factor when diving? Do you want to explore deeper depths? The Decompression Procedures Course gives you the knowledge to plan staged decompression diving to depths of 45 meters/150 feet and is the first step beyond recreational limits. This course, in combination with the Advanced Nitrox course, forms the foundation of all other technical courses.

During the decompression procedures course, you’ll learn: decompression dive planning; decompression diving procedures; proper trim and buoyancy; emergency procedures; and equipment considerations.

To take this class you must have earned your advanced open water certification, and possess proof of 25 logged dives.

This certification course also starts with an eLearning course so you can learn the academics at your own pace. Then, you’ll meet with your instructor for additional classroom time, then head out for a pool session. The course finishes with three open water dives.

The cost for this course is $450 plus eLearning, boat trips, gear, and tanks.

Advanced Nitrox Diver

Looking to extend your dive time? Scientists, photographers, and adventurers can all use a bit more time underwater—whether it’s to complete that survey, capture the perfect shot, or finally be able to explore that little-known place that’s always been slightly beyond reach.

This course is perfect for certified enriched air divers who are looking to expand their knowledge of nitrox mixtures containing more than 40% oxygen. It’s a must for divers intending to move forward with technical diving education—and in fact is often taken simultaneously with the Decompression Procedures course.

During the course you’ll learn the physics and physiology relating to diving with gas mixes containing more than 40% oxygen, how to plan your dive using dive tables and computers, and both oxygen and nitrogen limitations. You’ll also discuss equipment considerations, cylinder labeling, analyzing mixtures, gas blending procedures and oxygen service ratings. When you’ve completed the certification, you’ll be able to dive using EAN 21 through EAN 100 percent oxygen within your current certification levels to a maximum of 40 meters/130 feet on dives that do not require staged decompression.

This course starts with an eLearning component so you can learn the academics at your own pace. After the academics are successfully completed, you’ll meet your instructor for a review, head to the pool, and then finish the course with three instructional dives.

The cost of this course is $450, plus eLearning, boat trips, gear, and tanks.

Want to jump start your Tech education?

Take both the Decompression Procedures Diver and the Advanced Nitrox Diver course together. This will allow you to use the various gas mixes in order to accelerate decompression.

These three courses offer entry into a new world—and it all begins at Jupiter Dive Center. Call our shop at 561-745-7807 today for more information or to book a spot in your continuing adventure!

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5 Reasons to Go Scuba Diving

5 Reasons to Go Scuba Diving 

Scuba diving is one of the most fulfilling leisure activities you can try. There’s nothing else that compares to putting on your equipment and getting lost in the world beneath the waves. Whether you’re looking to tick scuba diving off your bucket list, or you want to experience a feeling of utter weightlessness, with scuba diving there’s something for everyone.

We never need any encouragement to head out on a dive. But just in case you’re lacking motivation, here are our top five reasons for trying out scuba diving.

  1. Every Dive Is Unique

Oceans and seas are so diverse that no matter whether you’ve dived over 100 times in various locations across the globe, or it’s your second adventure on the same reef as your last dive, you’re always certain to have a unique experience.

For instance, when we take trips out to our very own “Area 51” reef, you never know what you’re going to find. One dive might be dominated by your interaction with reef sharks, but return just a few days later, and you’ll find yourself tracking the movements of huge green moray eels, with no sharks in sight. It’s this unpredictability that keeps so-called “bucket-listers” coming back for more!

  1. Experience True Weightlessness 

Short of becoming an astronaut, scuba diving offer participants the only realistic chance of experiencing weightlessness. As you sink toward a reef or shipwreck, you can’t escape the floating sensation associated with zero gravity.

Once you’ve mastered buoyancy control, you can glide completely effortless through the water as if you weigh nothing at all. Better still, it’s certainly much cheaper than booking a flight on Elon Musk’s next space flight!

  1. Explore the World as You Don’t Already Know It 

No matter how many nature documentaries you’ve watched, nothing compares with coming face-to-face with nature first hand. Scuba diving trips help you uncover parts of the world that not very many others get to see. Remember, 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, and it contains an extra 15 species of animal to encounter, with 33,600 different types of fish alone!

There are creatures that will do nothing but captivate you as you silently swim past each other. Manta rays, dolphins, sharks, and turtles all have to be seen in person to truly appreciate their majesty. What’s more, there’s nothing more exciting that descending on your first ever ship wreck. You’ll gaze in amazement at the sheer scale of the vessel as it lies broken on the seabed.

  1. Learn New Skills

While scuba diving is primarily about having wonderful experiences, you will learn a great deal of new skills as part of the process of becoming a fully-qualified scuba diver. You will gain all kinds of knowledge regarding physics, physiology, the environment, and the effect of currents and tides.

As well as developing your knowledge of the ocean, you’ll also get to learn important skills such as judging depth, communicating non-verbally, and how to remain calm and make decisions when under pressure. Many of these skills transfer over into your profession, giving you a whole new set of personal tools to take into the workplace.

  1. Meet New People

Even though you can’t talk underwater, scuba diving is an incredibly social activity. After all, you rarely (if ever) go scuba diving by yourself. There’s nothing better than getting back on the boat and sharing stories of each other’s perspectives on an epic shared dive.

Many scuba divers end up becoming friends for life. Which is not surprising since these are individuals who each share the same passion for the ocean, and just as you will, they all tried it once and never looked back!

Come and Join Us on a Dive 

Here are Jupiter Dive Center, we offer a full array of scuba diving classes from open water all the way up to assistant instructor. Better still, we are both a PADI 5 Star Center and a SCUBAPRO platinum dealer, providing a one stop solution for all of your diving needs.

Our boats Republic IV and Republic VII are moored up right outside our shop and we offer daily charters to many of our famous dive sites. If you’re looking to tick scuba diving off your bucket list while on vacation, we can also offer a wide range of great deals on local hotels.

Just give us a call to find out how we can provide you with the perfect scuba diving experience!

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Used Scuba Equipment: How to Make an Educated Choice Used Scuba Equipment:

Used Scuba Equipment: How to Make an Educated Choice

Used Scuba Equipment: How to Make an Educated Choice

 

Let’s just put it out there. This is not an article about why you should always buy new equipment. There are plenty of good reasons why used gear can be a valid choice. What this article is about is how to make an informed decision and more importantly when and why you should care. Scuba diving is a great sport, but it’s not without its risks. Your safety depends in part on your equipment, and Jupiter Dive Center wants to help you make wise decisions.

 

Happily, there are plenty of good deals to be found on used gear if you know where to look. Hint: It isn’t on social media. This is where we remind you of the old adage If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So how can you tell the difference between a smoking deal and one that will leave you fuming?

 

Ask questions. Pitfalls of buying used equipment from an unknown source abound. Before buying anything, consider the following:

  • When was the last time the gear was serviced? Unlike tanks, regulators and BCDs don’t come with stickers that indicate when they may have been last serviced (and stickers can be removed). Does that air cylinder have a current VIP? Can it be hydro’d? (Do you know what those terms mean?) Or is it one of the brands that have been discontinued and can’t be filled any longer? If so, you may have just bought yourself a fifty-dollar doorstop.
  • Can you still get parts for the equipment? You may be able to get a Dacor regulator for next to nothing, but good luck finding parts.
  • Are there any recalls on the equipment? Will the weight pockets of that BC work like they’re supposed to, or are you risking an equipment malfunction that would have been preventable if you’d done a bit more homework?
  • How old is the technology? Incredible safety advances have been made in the sport. Does that computer do everything you want it to? Does it sync to your home computer or is it incompatible with your technology?
  • How old is that wetsuit? Why does this matter? Neoprene compresses with use and degrades with time. That 5 mm wetsuit may only have a warmth rating of a skin.
  • Does it fit my budget? This may seem a strange question, but to really know what a piece of gear costs, you have to factor in the cost of service it needs to ensure it’s safe to use, or that the item truly serves your needs. Buying something that has to be replaced after two dives isn’t the bargain you thought it was.

 

Why should you consider used gear?

Scuba divers love to buy equipment. Some stick with the sport. Others enjoy it so much that they upgrade their entry-level gear to more advanced equipment. That means there is a lot of great gear on the secondary market. The best way to buy equipment – new or used – is through a reputable dive shop and here’s why.

 

  • The price. Let’s face it. Gear can be expensive and buying used is easier on the budget. But price isn’t the most important part of the decision equation when considering a purchase.
  • Dive shops have their reputation to maintain. Unlike that guy on eBay or Craigslist, your dive shop has a storefront. If you have an issue with the equipment, the shop has a reason to make things right.
  • Shops have knowledgeable people to help you make the right equipment choices for the type of diving you want to do. That person who decided after two dives that they didn’t like the sport? They don’t have the expertise to answer your questions.
  • In most cases, dive shops will service used gear before putting it up for sale. ASK! At Jupiter Dive Center, we have a full-service repair and maintenance department. Our certified technicians have inspected and repaired used equipment that comes through our shop. And if we aren’t certified to service it, we don’t sell it.
  • Depending on the equipment, new gear may come with a warranty. Sometimes that warranty is assigned to the first owner, sometimes it is defined by time. And sometimes it is the absence of a warranty that reduces the price. Regardless, a shop will know the status.
  • Buying used equipment from a shop may come with perks. Do they offer a return policy? Offer finance options? Can you try it before you buy?

 

Budget should never be more important than safety. Used gear can be a great option if it fits your needs, is in good shape, and helps you enjoy this incredible sport. For equipment you can count on, visit Jupiter Dive Center. We’ll help you make the right decisions—for you. Happy diving!

 

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Dive Equipment spotlight: Some New Options for 2020!

Dive Equipment spotlight: Some New Options for 2020!

All you need to do is look to your phone to realize how quickly technology changes, but you may not realize that scuba technology is always advancing as well. Dive computers today offer more options and better accuracy than even a few years ago. Even staples like regulators can be improved upon. At Jupiter Dive Center, we carry the latest scuba technology and have the knowledgeable staff to help you make the right decisions for your gear needs.

MK25/D420

Let’s face it. A regulator is an investment in safety, and deep down, you do want the best—and that means Scubapro.  The MK25 is a workhorse first stage, but this season introduces the D420 second stage. This second-stage includes the best of the D-series heritage with the latest advances in breathing performance. The air-balanced progressive flow control valve ensures an easy draw whether you are shallow diving or surpassing the limits of recreational depths. The Dive/Pre-dive systems adjusts with a convenient thumb tab. Wish you could switch your hose routing from one side to the other? Well, now you can. Add an easy-to-reach purge button with a comfortable mouthpiece, and you’ve got all the makings of a great regulator. Dive with DIN? No problem.

A1 & A2 Computers

Now that your breathing is under control, let’s talk computers—the Aladin Series Dive Watches to be exact. Not only do they have a great entry price point, but they’ve got a ton of great features that make them worth every penny! 

First up, the A1.
This entry level dive watch computer has a large, high-contrast display with backlight to make sure you can read your computer in all water conditions. It’s lightweight which makes it a great option to wear every day, and the modern design offers a fresh look. Even more important though, is its intuitive operation. Underwater, you want fast and easy access to all your info. Topside, being able to access your log is just as easy, and downloading your dives is a snap with wireless downloads via Bluetooth.

Thinking of leveling up? The A2 is for you.
In a nutshell, the A2 is a matrix designed dive watch computer loaded with topside and underwater features including air integration, multi-gas and cutting-edge biometrics for smarter diving.

Let’s go a little deeper.
Divers are an adventurous lot, and they often do more than one type of diving. This computer adapts to your needs. Breathing Nitrox? It’s got a mode for that. Trimix, too. Let’s not forget CCR, sidemount, gauge and freediving to round out all the modes this watch possesses. The wireless air integration constantly monitors your tank pressure and provides true remaining bottom time (RBT) so you can get the most dive time possible. Like the A1, the computer face offers superior readability with a large, high-contrast display and backlight capability. Bonus, the A2 has a convenient swim and sport mode that is an integrated activity counter and swimming stroke (distance) counter for your between-dive exercise. Finally, the A2 has an easy and intuitive menu, a graphical logbook, and convenient Bluetooth downloads that do away with the need of any extra cables or cradles—which make this a great choice for traveling.

Curious? Visit Jupiter Dive Center and see these—and many more items—for yourself. And bring your questions! Our trained staff can help you make informed decisions no matter what gear you need. Want another reason to shop local? Your USB port can’t fill your tanks, but we can. Plus, our boats are right outside the back door. So come on in and make a day of it! Let’s go diving!

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Earn Your Divemaster Certification with Jupiter Dive Center!

December is the perfect time to think about what you want to accomplish in the coming year, and if becoming a dive professional tops your list, Jupiter Dive Center can help you realize your dream!

In a nutshell, divemasters help other divers hone their skills, assist instructors with classes, and apply advanced dive theory knowledge to prevent and solve problems. The fun part is being a dive professional means you can travel the world, explore exotic locations, and get paid to dive!

Divemaster is a hands-on, intensive course. After completing your academics online, you’ll spend five weekends developing practical skills that include water skills, rescue and first aid review, dive site management and set-up, and how to conduct introductory scuba and skin diver courses. During the course, you’ll also assist with specialty courses under the supervision of your instructor.

Here’s how to plan:

First the prerequisites: to become a professional divemaster, you’ll need to be a certified rescue diver and have First Aid, AED, and CPR certifications, 40 logged dives, complete a medical statement, and obtain a doctor’s approval.

Next, the equipment: To become a dive professional, you’ll need to purchase a dive master learning kit containing certification standards, teaching slates and more. You’ll also need equipment such as lift bags and reels. Because all Jupiter Dive Center charters are drift dives, divers must have their own surface marker buoy and timing device.

Combo Rescue Diver / First Aid, AED, & CPR certifications course dates

We’re streamlining the process and offering the two courses together!

March 21, 22, and 29, 2020

Online academics

After registering for your class with Jupiter Dive Center, you’ll need to enroll in your e-learning course to complete the academics online. This allows you to learn at your own pace and at the time of your choosing. Please note the cost of the e-learning course is separate.

Divemaster course dates

Jupiter Dive Center will be presenting the 5-weekend courses twice in 2020

May 16 – June 14

May 30 – July 5

Make 2020 the year you achieve your goal to become a dive professional. Call Jupiter Dive Center today!

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Tis the Season…To Go Diving!

Winter brings with it an abundance of holidays, after all, ‘tis the season. But did you know that Jupiter diving has seasons as well?  So while other people are pulling out their ugly sweaters, grab your wetsuit and check out what gifts the ocean has to offer – all year ‘round!

 

Sawfish November – December

As we mentioned in our blog on sawfish, seeing one of these incredible fish is truly a bucket list experience. Identifiable by their elongated snouts that look like a saw, they are an endangered species. Happily, sawfish sightings are increasing along the Jupiter coast especially on our northern reefs. During winter months, we run special charters to search for the elusive fish. And who knows? You may get to check something off your bucket list!

Rays Migrate throughout the year

Spotted eagle rays are always a treat to encounter on a dive. With a pectoral wingspread that can reach over nine feet, they are majestic and graceful as they swim. Capable of leaping from the water, the spotted eagle ray frequently schools and is known to travel long distances, but individual rays often return to the same sites. In Jupiter, we tend to see these rays more frequently in the autumn months.

Southern Stingrays are smaller than their spotted cousins and olive-brown to green-gray on top. They frequently burrow into the sand, so divers can often detect them by looking for their “footprint,” or by their eyes that protrude from the sand. Abundant in Florida, we tend to have more sightings in the winter months through February.

Lemon Sharks January - February

Sharks play a critical role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems and the waters off Jupiter, Florida provide habitat for a wide variety of sharks. Lemon sharks are migratory and visit the waters off Jupiter during January and February. Known for their color, lemon sharks have a pale lemon-brown hue to their skin.

Blacktip Reef Sharks February - March

Blacktip reef sharks are easy to identify by the black markings on the tips of their fins. Also, migratory, these sharks swim through Jupiter in large aggregations usually beginning in February.

Sea Turtles March - October

The area around Jupiter has one of the largest sea turtle nesting populations in the nation. That means divers are likely to encounter sea turtles whenever they dive, but particularly from March to October during breeding and nesting season. Five species of sea turtles can be found in our area, and all are considered endangered. The three most abundant species are the loggerhead, hawksbill, and green sea turtles. Less abundant are the leatherbacks and the Kemps’ Ridleys.

Loggerhead sea turtles have massive heads, strong jaws, and a reddish-brown shell, or carapace. Adult males reach about three to four feet in shell length and weigh about 250 pounds. Green sea turtles, as their name suggests, are green. They are typically three feet
long, have small heads and display four scutes (the keratin shell plates) on each side of their shells. Named for their narrow heads and bird-like beaks, hawksbill sea turtles have the most colorful shells of the marine turtles. Leatherback sea turtles are pelagic by nature, so their return to their nesting area is often the only time divers can see them. The largest of the marine turtles, they typically weigh between 700 and 1500 pounds at maturity and can reach lengths from four to eight feet. Unlike other sea turtles, the leatherback has a soft shell that resembles leather. As pressure increases on their deep dives, the shell compresses. Kemps’ Ridley sea turtles are the smallest of the sea turtles, weighing between 75 - 100 pounds and rarely topping two feet. They have triangular heads and hooked beaks. These are the only sea turtles that nest during the day.

Lobster Sport Season July 29-30, 2020,

Lobster Regular Season August 2020 – March 31, 2021

Lobsters are here year-round, but for divers, lobsters definitely have a season…or in this case two of them. Sport season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July and Jupiter Dive Center will have special charters just for lobster hunters. It’s no surprise, these charters sell out quickly, so be sure to book early. We’ll also have dedicated trips on opening day of the regular season, and then will dedicate additional charters throughout the season. Participating divers must have their own fishing license and lobster tag!

Goliath Groupers July - September

Diving with a goliath grouper is an unforgettable experience. Their distinctive bark booms through the water—and then they swim into view, gentle giants stretching up to eight feet and weighing in at a stout 500 pounds. Historically, goliaths ranged well beyond our state’s shores. Now, they are primarily found in the waters of southern Florida. In fact, every year from July through September they aggregate off Jupiter, Florida to spawn. Seeing sixty or more of these behemoths in one spot is truly an incredible opportunity that only a fortunate few get to experience.

And that brings us back to the rays, sawfish, and other winter visitors that we started with at the beginning of this blog.

Book Early!

While the holiday season will soon be over, a new season is just getting started in Jupiter. So what are you waiting for? Book your charter today! And may whatever holiday season you celebrate be merry and safe.

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Sawfish: A Bucket List Experience in Jupiter, Florida

Every diver has a bucket list of places they want to dive and the type of marine life they hope to someday see. The waters off the coast of Jupiter, Florida have plenty of bucket list sightings; sea turtles, goliath groupers, and sharks to name a few. But there is another, more elusive fish that calls these waters home that needs to be added to the list—the sawfish. And Jupiter Dive Center wants to help you see one for yourself.

 

Even if you’ve never encountered a sawfish before, it is an easy species to identify—unsurprisingly their elongated snout (rostrum) looks like a saw with sharp transverse teeth lining the edges and can be as much as one-third the entire length of the fish. Also known as carpenter sharks, they actually belong to the ray family. Depending on the species, small sawfishes commonly reach 10 to 11 feet in length. Larger species typically come in around 16 feet. According to the Florida Museum, the largest sawfish is believed to be a whopping 24 feet long!

It’s comforting to note that sawfish, despite their size, prefer diets devoid of divers. While the rostrum is used in predation and for defense, the teeth in their mouths are small and flat—similar to those possessed by stingrays. While hunting, sawfishes whip their saw through schools of fish, stunning or injuring their prey. Sawfish are not aggressive toward people, nor do they shy away from divers like many shark species. That said, they will defend themselves if provoked or threatened.

There are five species of sawfishes located throughout the world—and all are considered endangered. To combat the declining population of sawfish, Florida prohibited harvesting of the fish in 1992. In 2003, the sawfish had the dubious distinction of being the very first marine fish to be added to the federal Endangered Species Act.

The smalltooth sawfish can be found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Although still a rare occurrence, sightings of the sawfish are increasing along the Jupiter coast—a hopeful sign that the population of these endangered fish is rebounding. NOAA Fisheries announced an initiative last year encouraging divers, anglers and boaters to report sawfish encounters by calling 1-844-4SAWFISH. The information will help scientists learn more about sawfish behavior and population growth or decline.

 

Many tribal cultures consider the sawfish culturally important. The Kuna, for example, believe sawfish will fend off dangerous sea creatures and protect mariners from drowning. In other cultures, sawfish inspires admiration and is often considered to be a symbol of strength and spirituality.

 

 

Sawfish are fascinating creatures. In the winter, Jupiter Dive Center designates specific charters to go in search of sawfish on our northern reefs where the fish have been spotted before. Follow us on Facebook to be the first to see our special event announcements and lock in your spot on the boat! Even if we don’t find one, you’re still diving in Jupiter—and you may just get to check something off your bucket list!

 

 

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How to Avoid Injuries from Common Marine Animals

How to Avoid Injuries from Common Marine Animals

Every time divers enter the water, we plunge into a realm where we are guests. And like any conscientious traveler, we can minimize our risks when we take the time to educate ourselves regarding the inhabitants of the place we’re visiting. Fortunately very few aquatic animals are aggressive toward divers. However, it is important to remember that even the gentlest creature will defend itself and the vast majority of marine life injuries occur because of diver behaviors when we touch, step on, or startle an animal.

Let’s face it: diving would be dull without marine life. In Jupiter, we schedule our dives to maximize the possibilities of encountering certain marine life including lemon sharks, turtles, goliath groupers, and more. But in seeking one species, we will always encounter others—and some we may not recognize as hazardous.

Fire Coral

This one is easy to avoid. It doesn’t move and maintaining good buoyancy and keeping your hands to yourself greatly minimizes your risk. Most divers find themselves brushing against fire coral inadvertently or if a surge pushes them against it.

Fire coral isn’t a true coral despite its appearance and is more akin to a jellyfish. Found in Florida, the Caribbean and Bermuda areas, fire corals are bright yellow-green and brown and attach themselves to rocks, coral, and other stationary objects. You might not initially realize you’ve brushed against fire coral as the burning sensation may set in 5-30 minutes following the contact. Often a red rash will develop and when the stinging subsides, it will be replaced by itching. What to do? Rinse the infected area with seawater (not fresh water which can actually increase the pain). Apply vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to help neutralize the toxin. If you notice any fine hair-like bits on your skin, remove them with tweezers (they are the cnidea—stinging threads—and are capable of stinging again despite no longer being attached to the animal).

Jellyfish

Jellyfish are non-aggressive, gelatinous, and often beautifully translucent animals that are surrounded by tentacles. Not all species pose a hazard to divers, but the Portuguese man-of-war is a notable exception.

Jellyfish are usually found near the surface of the water when light is weak, but they can also hang out in the water column, and can wash up on the beach (the Portuguese man-of-war looks like a crumpled black trash bag). Jellyfish injuries are almost always accidental when divers find themselves swimming within the animals trailing tentacles.

If stung, it is important to remove any remaining tentacles (see above regarding the use of tweezers—the same rule applies here). Vinegar or alcohol will help neutralize the cells. When clean, applying ice packs to the area may help alleviate pain. If the injury creates more than mild pain, continue medical care and seek professional medical assistance.

A Lionfish by Any Other Name

Lionfish, firefish, red lionfish, butterfly cod, peacock lionfish, or dinner. No matter what you commonly call a Pterois volitans, a run-in with a lionfish can ruin your whole day.  Native to the Indo-Pacific, the lionfish has invaded the Atlantic and can be found on reefs and shipwrecks as well as in mangrove and seagrass environments at depths ranging between one and 300 feet. They have no known predators and a single mature female can produce two million eggs per year. Divers have become the first line of defense against this invasive species, and lionfish derbies are popular events. The fish are easy to identify with their striped bodies and fleshy fins, and like many animals that move slowly, they have a built in defense system. Armed with 13 dorsal spines, 3 anal spines and a host of soft tentacles, the spines pack a venomous sting that can cause extreme pain and in some cases even respiratory distress and paralysis.

If stung

Stings are accompanied by a throbbing, intense pain. Keep your wits and ascend safely.  Topside, carefully remove any visible spine and apply pressure to the wound to control any bleeding. Soak the injured area in warm water for 30 minutes. With any injury involving venom, anaphylactic shock is a real risk. Sweatiness, nausea, breathing or pulse rate changes, or tremors are all signs you need professional medical attention.

Other Venomous Animals

Lionfishes hold the dubious distinction of ranking second in the number of human stings worldwide. The number one spot is held by stingrays. Surprised? Most of these injuries are caused in shallow water when a person accidentally steps on the docile animal.

Other venomous animals include scorpionfish, stonefish, and urchins. Scorpionfish and stonefish are often confused for one another, and they are masters of disguise, capable of disappearing into the reef. Both are popular photography subjects because they tend to remain stationary allowing the photographer to move in for a close-up. Both fishes have venomous spines, with the stonefish packing a particularly powerful wallop.

Scared yet?

Don’t be. Hazards exist all around us, regardless of our environment. Training, education, and awareness greatly reduce the likelihood of injury. Respect the ocean inhabitants and your chance of injury goes down even further.  It’s easy. Don’t harass marine life, stick your hands in dark holes (moray eels have sharp teeth), or interrupt any animal while it’s feeding. Be a considerate traveler. After all, we are all only guests under the sea.