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.
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.