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How to be a Superhero While Scuba Diving

How to be a Superhero While Scuba Diving

Few communities are more passionate about safeguarding the ocean than divers. After all, divers are a group of sports enthusiasts, naturalists, scientists, and explorers who see firsthand the incredible ecosystems, biodiversity and beauty that’s found beneath the waves. That appreciation often inspires divers to become ocean advocates—and it doesn’t take much to be a superhero.

Seventy percent of our planet is covered by water. Only a fraction of that is routinely explored by divers, yet the impact of mankind reaches down to the very bottom of the deepest trench. In southern Florida we are fortunate to be able to dive on the nation’s only coral reef and see plenty of incredible marine creatures. But many of the animals we see are endangered, and others are invasive species that if left unchecked could tip the balance of our ecosystems. Certifying agencies all discuss how divers can minimize their personal impact, but in addition to the “do no harm” aspect of diving, there are plenty of ways divers can make a difference—and ensure it’s a positive one.

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Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Fundraiser

Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Fundraiser

As divers, we all know the value of artificial reefs. They provide habitat for marine species, which in turn improves the health of our oceans. Artificial reefs also offer divers new and vibrant sites to explore. And now you can help. Join Jupiter Dive Center at the Palm Beach County Diving Association 2019 Artificial Reef Fundraiser on October fifth!

The Details

Grab your buddies! This year’s family-friendly fundraiser will be at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, located at 14200 U.S. Hwy 1, in Juno Beach, Florida. The festivities start at 6p.m. and conclude at 9p.m.

Enjoy good food, cold beer, wine and live music—all included in the $20.00 entry price. There will be a live raffle where you can bid on a variety of items that include dive excursions and vacation packages! If a silent auction is more to your liking, check out the wreck memorabilia, dive gear and yet another epic dive excursion you can bid on!

Tickets can be purchased by going online at https://divepbc.com/events/  If you can’t make the fundraiser, please consider making a donation and lending your support from afar.

Palm Beach County is Florida’s largest county with 45 miles of coastline. The waters offshore are populated with a diversity of marine life that makes for world class diving. At various times of the year, you’ll encounter sea turtles, sharks, goliath groupers, and a host of other fishes and creatures—large and small—drawn in by the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream current. Add in an abundance of wrecks and you can see why we love diving off the coast of Jupiter and are passionate about promoting the reefs and surrounding underwater habitats as a sustainable resource.

Now’s your chance to be a part of something big—help support Palm Beach County artificial reefs and join Jupiter Dive Center on October 5, 2019.

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Sea Turtle Awareness Course Offered August 23rd!

Sea Turtle Awareness Course Offered August 23rd!

It’s turtle time along the Jupiter Coast, but if you don’t know the difference between a loggerhead and a hawksbill you can’t fully appreciate one of the area’s wonders. Jupiter Dive Center can change that. We’ve partnered with Loggerhead Marinelife Center to offer a Sea Turtle Awareness Specialty Course on August 23, 2019.

Five species of sea turtles can be found in our area and all are considered endangered. The three most abundant species are the loggerhead, green, and hawksbill. Less abundant are the leatherbacks and the Kemps’ Ridley sea turtles.

The beaches along Jupiter, Florida host one of the densest sea turtle nesting populations in the nation. That means chances are good that divers will encounter sea turtles whenever they dive, but between March and October, the likelihood of seeing one or more of these fabulous marine creatures’ skyrockets.

Because of their love of the ocean, divers often become some of the staunchest marine advocates. Our friends over at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center share our enthusiasm and are dedicated to promoting the conservation of ocean ecosystems and focus their attention on threatened and endangered sea turtles. Together, we provide an in-depth Sea Turtle Awareness program that will help ensure that the magnificent turtles we see today will continue to delight divers well into the future.

The Class

The class begins at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center where experts share their knowledge regarding the role sea turtles play in the marine environment, the issues they face, and the steps diver can take to protect sea turtles. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center also provides sea turtle rehabilitation care, and students will be able to see hatchlings as well as adult turtles at the facility.

Following the presentation, students will have time to grab lunch on their own before certified divers will meet at Jupiter Dive Center for an afternoon two-tank guided dive. Divers will focus on identifying the sea turtles they encounter, locating the types of habitat they prefer and noting any visible human impacts affecting the sea turtles.

Divers who complete both the classroom and dives will receive a Sea Turtle Awareness certification.

Jupiter Dive Center is offering this class August 23rd. So, what are you waiting for? Call (561)745-7807 to reserve your space in the next Sea Turtle Awareness course!

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Dive with the Giants—Goliath Groupers!

Dive with the Giants—Goliath Groupers!

One of the joys of exploring the Jupiter Wreck Trek is encountering the many goliath groupers that shelter in and around the individual wrecks. As the summer progresses, even more groupers arrive in the area to spawn.  These gentle giants are truly spectacular creatures and you can see them for yourself by joining Jupiter Dive Center on one of their weekly Wednesday Wreck Trek charters!

Diving With Goliaths

You’ll probably hear them first, a deep bark that booms for long distances through the water. As you drift closer to the wrecks, prepare yourself—they’re big!  How big? When these gentle giants attain maturity, they can stretch up to eight feet and weigh in at 500 pounds.

Goliath Grouper

 

Goliaths groupers were declared critically endangered in 1994, and the harvesting of groupers was prohibited in both state and federal waters. Historically, goliaths ranged far beyond our state, but their habitat has shrunk and now they are found primarily in southern Florida waters.

Every year, between July and September, goliath groupers gather off the coast of Jupiter to spawn. Seeing sixty or more of these behemoths is truly an experience that only a fortunate few get to experience. Although a push was made last year to reopen a limited sport season, there wasn’t enough data to show the goliath population had rebounded enough. The effort failed—much to local divers’ delight.

Want To Learn More?

Jupiter Dive Center is proud to offer an exclusive Goliath Grouper Specialty course where you will learn all about goliath grouper identification, habitat, range, diet and role in the marine ecosystem. It starts in the classroom in the morning. Lunch is on us. Then in the afternoon, it’s off on our boats for a two-tank charter where you get to put your newfound knowledge to use accompanied by your instructor. Divers who complete both portions of the class will receive a Goliath Grouper Specialty certification.

Your Next Adventure 

Goliath aggregation has begun, so there’s no better time to book a spot on one of the Wednesday Wreck Trek trips.  Don’t miss this opportunity to interact with these gentle giants of the ocean! 

Reserve your spot now by calling (561)745-7807 or visit our website here!

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Lobster Sport Season: How to catch your dinner safely 

Lobster Sport Season: How to catch your dinner safely.

Spiny Lobster Sport Season opens at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday July 24 and Jupiter Dive Center is ready with special charters! So, grab your license and reserve your spot now!

Love it or hate it, Lobster Sport Season is two days when it seems the entire population of Florida floods the waterways in search of their next dinner. Increased boat traffic, inexperienced hunters, and alcohol add to the crazy factor of mini-season. But there are steps you can take to increase your safety. 

Equipment:

If you haven’t been diving since last mini-season, you need to make sure your equipment is in good shape and serviced before you hit the water. All the diving off Jupiter is drift diving and divers are required to have their own surface marker buoy.

On the boat:

Listen to the boat briefings! Jupiter Dive Center crews will discuss the conditions, the site, boat procedures and what to do in an emergency—all to make sure your dive is safe and enjoyable.

In the water:

Either pull a float or be with someone who is. All Jupiter Dive Center charters have an in-water guide who pulls a float so you don’t have to. But lets face it, it’s lobster season. You and your buddy may splinter off from the guide or need to ascend before the guide. Carry—and know how to deploy—a surface marker buoy. More on that later…

Watch your gauges. In the thrill of the chase, it’s easy to go deeper and stay longer than you intended. And speaking of keeping an eye on things, pay attention to your buddy. Hunting or not, the unexpected can still happen.

At the end of the dive:

Make sure to start your ascent with enough air in your tank to complete your safety stop. As you ascend, listen for boat traffic. The waterways see more private boating during these two days than probably any other time of year. Because sound travels four times faster in water, it is impossible to guess a boat’s direction of travel. Look up and make sure your path is clear. And remember to inflate your surface marker buoy!

The Charters:

We’re offering additional charters during sport season that leave earlier and offer 3-tank dive options. These charters fill quickly—make your reservations now! (add links)

Wednesday:   2-tank charter departs at 7:30 a.m. (Please note the earlier time)
3-tank charter departs at 7:30 a.m.
2-tank charter departs at 12:30 p.m.

Thursday:      2-tank charter departs at 7:30 a.m.
3-tank charter departs at 7:30 a.m.

Lobster Sport Season Rules:

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers are out in force during sport season and it is each diver’s responsibility to know and comply with the regulations.

The daily bag limit is 12 lobsters!

Minimum size limit: Carapace must be larger than three inches, measured in the water. Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times.  And just in case you don’t already know, here’s how to measure a spiny lobster.

Make sure you have a current recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit to harvest spiny lobster. The harvesting of any egg-bearing lobster is prohibited. Likewise, don’t use any device that is going to puncture or crush the shell or flesh of the lobster. Undersized lobster must be released unharmed.

 

And finally, if you didn’t get your limit during the sport season, don’t worry.  Regular lobster season opens on August 6th and we’re dedicating both our morning and afternoon trips on August 6th and 7th to lobster dives. After the initial opening, we will continue to dedicate our Wednesday and Friday afternoon charters to lobster hunters for the rest of the season.

 

So what are you waiting for? Reserve your spot  today and on July 24th, you can be dining on fresh-caught lobster!

 

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The Return of Wreck Wednesdays at Jupiter Dive Center!

The Return of Wreck Wednesdays at Jupiter Dive Center!

Summertime is officially here and that means it’s time to dive the Wreck Trek with Jupiter Dive Center!  Beginning July 10th, we’ll be resuming our Wreck Wednesdays. With plenty of large marine animals to see and wrecks to explore, it’s drift diving at its finest!

Wreck Diver

 

The Wreck Trek

The Wreck Trek is a series of three wrecks that include the Zion Train, Miss Jenny, and the ESSO Bonaire. Goliath groupers love to hang out in the large nooks and crannies of the ships and the wrecks have become a popular aggregation site.

Jupiter Dive Center offers charters to the Wreck Trek every Wednesday mornings and by request. In August and September, we’ll add in a dive on the MG 1-11 to capitalize on viewing the goliaths. Remember to bring your camera, because diving with these gentle giants is a bucket-list experience!

A bit about the individual wrecks: 

The Zion Train is 164-foot cargo ship that rests on its port side in 90 feet of water about a mile north of the Jupiter Inlet. Built in the Netherlands in 1962, it moved European cargo for years. Its history tells a bloody tale of docking in Miami where five of its nine Haitian crewmembers were shot and killed by pirates. Three months later, the ship ran aground off South Beach. The ship was seized by Federal authorities and sold to a salvage company. It was scuttled June 2nd, 2003. Today, hurricanes and currents have torn the ship open and resident groupers are often found inside the broken bow. East of the Zion Train, at 90 feet, is a pile of concrete beams, which draws its own share of large marine life.

 

Zion Train Wreck

The Miss Jenny’s history is far more demure. The Maritime Tug & Barge Company donated the 55-foot dredge barge for use as an artificial reef and it was sunk north of the Zion Train. It is currently upside-down and is home to goliath, gag, and black groupers.

From there, set a 340-degree course to the ESSO Bonaire. Hailing from Tegucigaipa, Honduras. the 147-foot oil tanker was seized by U.S. Customs after agents discovered 55,000 pounds of marijuana on board. The Economic Council of Palm Beach County stepped forward and purchased the boat and it was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef on July 23, 1989. The largest of the three wrecks, she sits upright and her deck is about 75 feet below the surface in 90 feet of water. An easy wreck to explore, her holds are open and the cabin area at the stern may be safely penetrated as long as the diver does not go into the lower areas. Again, don’t be surprised to come face-to-face with a goliath grouper.

And now, a bit about goliath groupers:

If you haven’t yet seen one of these huge fish, they are a bit surprising. At maturity, they can reach 700 pounds and attain a length of eight feet. Imagine encountering a VW Bug underwater, and you get the idea. But don’t worry, goliaths are the gentle giants of the sea. Want to know more? Check out our Goliath Grouper Specialty Course!

 

So what are you waiting for? Grab your buddy and come dive with us. The water’s fine–and there are wrecks to explore! Call Jupiter Dive Center at 561-745-7807 or book your dive online, today.

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Sea Turtle Awareness Course Offered May 18th!

Sea Turtle Awareness Course Offered May 18th!

It’s turtle time along the Jupiter Coast, but if you don’t know the difference between a loggerhead and a hawksbill you can’t fully appreciate one of the area’s wonders. Jupiter Dive Center can change that. We’ve partnered with Loggerhead Marinelife Center to offer a Sea Turtle Awareness Specialty Course on May 18, 2019.

Five species of sea turtles can be found in our area and all are considered endangered. The three most abundant species are the loggerhead, green, and hawksbill. Less abundant are the leatherbacks and the Kemps’ Ridley sea turtles.

The beaches along Jupiter, Florida host one of the densest sea turtle nesting populations in the nation. That means chances are good that divers will encounter sea turtles whenever they dive, but between March and October, the likelihood of seeing one or more of these fabulous marine creatures skyrockets.

Because of their love of the ocean, divers often become some of the staunchest marine advocates. Our friends over at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center share our enthusiasm, and are dedicated to promoting the conservation of ocean ecosystems and focus their attention on threatened and endangered sea turtles. Together, we provide an in-depth Sea Turtle Awareness program that will help ensure that the magnificent turtles we see today will continue to delight divers well into the future.

The Class

The class begins at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center where experts share their knowledge regarding the role sea turtles play in the marine environment, the issues they face, and the steps diver can take to protect sea turtles. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center also provides sea turtle rehabilitation care, and students will be able to see hatchlings as well as adult turtles at the facility.

Following the presentation, students will have time to grab lunch on their own before certified divers will meet at Jupiter Dive Center for an afternoon two-tank guided dive. Divers will focus on identifying the sea turtles they encounter, locating the types of habitat they prefer and noting any visible human impacts affecting the sea turtles.

Divers who complete both the classroom and dives will receive a Sea Turtle Awareness certification.

Jupiter Dive Center is offering this class May 18th. So what are you waiting for? Call (561)745-7807 to reserve your space in the next Sea Turtle Awareness course!

 

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Celebrate Earth Day with Jupiter Dive Center!

Keep Palm Beach County beautiful! Celebrate Earth Day on April 20th with Jupiter Dive Center and help keep our local reefs trash-free by participating in the Great American Cleanup. We’ll make it worth your while with a special afternoon charter rate and t-shirts for the first 25 divers who sign up! After all, the earth doesn’t stop at the high tide mark.

What is the Great American Cleanup?

The Great American Cleanup is a celebration of Earth Day that takes place during the entire month of April. Thousands of volunteers will show their appreciation and dedication to their communities by participating in community-sponsored events removing litter from our public spaces—both above and below the water. Additional activities may include tree plantings, recycling events, graffiti removal, and other activities that help safeguard the environment and beautify our communities. Jupiter Dive Center has partnered with Keep Palm Beach Beautiful to help bring this opportunity and more to Jupiter, Florida.

Marine Debris

Marine debris is a growing environmental concern. Sadly, marine animals ingest plastics at an alarming rate. Debris can also smother delicate corals. Derelict fishing nets, line, six-pack plastics and other trash poses a significant entanglement issue to marine life. Debris can even damage boats and other watercraft upon contact. Not only does marine trash impact sea creatures, but it also negatively impacts the economic health of coastal communities. Learn more by visiting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program.

Jupiter Dive Center: Clean Reefs Clean Earth

Divers have always been stewards of the underwater realm. Take the plunge with Jupiter Dive Center and help scour the reefs for trash on Saturday, April 20th. Need more incentive? How about a reduced charter rate? Join in our reef cleanup and only pay $60.00 for the afternoon 2-tank charter. Still not convinced? The first 25 to register will receive a Great American Cleanup t-shirt!

Earth Day may only occur once a year, but divers know that keeping our reefs healthy is an ongoing concern. Jupiter Dive Center is dedicated to this mission and also partners with the Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN) a reporting and response system designed to improve the protection and management of Florida’s southeastern reefs. If you can’t participate on our Earth Day event, please consider joining us in late July for another debris dive to safeguard our precious reefs.

Help keep the waters and reefs we love to dive debris-free. Together we can make a difference!

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Leatherback Sea Turtles Are On the Move!

Leatherback Sea Turtles Are On the Move! 

March marks the start of the sea turtle nesting season and leatherbacks are usually the first to arrive. Leatherbacks are pelagic by nature, so they are rarely seen by recreational divers, but the odds improve considerably during nesting season and Jupiter Dive Center can help!

How to Recognize a Leatherback Sea Turtle 

Leatherback sea turtles are the largest and deepest diving of the sea turtles. They typically weigh between 700 and 1500 pounds at maturity and can reach lengths between 4 and 8 feet. Unlike other sea turtles, leatherbacks lack hard shells. Instead, their elongated carapaces are composed of a thin, tough rubbery skin that is dark gray or black with pale spots. Seven ridges run the length of the carapace. The largest leatherback ever recorded clocked in at a staggering 2,019 pounds and measured nearly 9 feet from beak to tail, an amazing feat considering leatherbacks feed almost exclusively on jellyfish (and consume their body weight daily). 

Nesting Along the Palm Beach and Treasure Coasts

Palm Beach County beaches are not only some of the most densely nested in Florida, but along the entire coastal United States.  According to recently released statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, leatherback sea turtles created a total of 949 nests across the state. That was 286 more than reported in 2017.  Nesting occurs when females crawl ashore, but it’s their travel to the beaches that increases the likelihood of being spotted by divers.

Leatherback Habitat 

Leatherbacks are typically found beyond the offshore sites frequented by recreational divers, capable of going far deeper than a diver’s limits. The majority of their time is spent swimming in the upper 900 feet of the water column, but leatherbacks routinely dive deeper than 3,000 feet.  It’s that depth that accounts for their pliable shell. As pressure increases, the leatherback’s shell compresses.  However, their shell is only one of their adaptations that allow them to explore depths few other creatures can reach. Their lungs are collapsible, which helps them avoid decompression issues. Factor in their slowed heart rate, the ability to store oxygen in their blood and muscles, and the ability stay underwater for long lengths of time; one thing becomes clear, leatherbacks are designed to go deep. Fortunately for divers, nesting season brings sea turtles closer to shore. This provides divers an opportunity to get a glimpse at nature’s most exclusive sea turtles. 

How To Spot A Leatherback

Look up! Divers tend to look forward to see where they are going or down as they explore reefs, while turtles are most often hanging out on the surface. During your ascent, make sure to turn so you can take in a full 360 degree-view.

Want To Learn More? 

Sea Turtle classes start in May! Jupiter Dive Center has been a longtime partner with the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach to support the protection of our local sea turtles. Together, we offer an exclusive opportunity to spend a morning at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center learning more about the sea turtles, then scuba dive with Jupiter Dive Center in the afternoon and identify the different species in their natural habitat! Click here for more information.

Already been through the class? Click here to reserve your seat on one of our charters and remember to look up!

 

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Tanah Keeta Scout Reservation Needs Your Help

Tanah Keeta Scout Reservation Needs Your Help

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Helping boys and girls prepare for life’s challenges is one of the primary goals of scouting and school organizations. Every summer, hundreds of young people spend a week or more at Tanah Keeta Summer Camp in Tequesta. Jupiter Dive Center is proud to help these youths learn more about the marine environment by introducing them to the joys of scuba diving.

Do you remember the excitement you felt when you took your first breath underwater? Jupiter Dive Center in partnership with the Tanah Keeta Summer Camp, provides that experience to the young men and women attending the camp. Depending on the skill level of the youth, they can choose from Discover SCUBA, Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Enriched Air Diver courses. Sadly, several programs are now in jeopardy as the pool where the instruction begins requires a complete overhaul.

As stated on the scout website “The Tanah Keeta pool is 33 years old and has not yet had any significant renovations other than patching what is already there.” Due to the rural nature of the camp, the planned overhaul is a major project that extends beyond the Olympic-sized pool and the Gulf Stream Council is asking for your help. More than half of the needed funds for the project have been raised, yet $400,000 more is needed.

So, why should you consider donating? According to the Gulf Stream Council, local Boy Scouts of America provided over 77,682 hours of community service in 2018, including food drives, conservation projects, projects that benefitted schools, churches, communities and other organizations. Altogether, the projects equated to $1.9 million dollars of service all performed in our local communities.

The Scout Oath includes a promise “…to help other people at all times.” These young people have fulfilled that promise, working hard for their communities. It’s our turn to return the favor and show them some appreciation.

To donate, please visit https://www.gulfstreamcouncil.org/pool-donations