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September 17, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

BY: Dustin Cranor


© OCEANA / Gorka Leclercq


It was another day of diving for the crew onboard the Oceana Latitude. Today’s site was nearly 15 miles from Port St. Joe and is home to Sherman Tug, a vessel that was sunk in 1996 and now sits upright 75-feet underwater.

This sunken ship is covered in gorgonians and sponges and inhabited by schools of grunts, spadefish and almaco jacks. In addition to spotting a blue angelfish and leopard toadfish, the divers saw two goliath groupers, one weighing approximately 100 pounds and the second nearly double that size. These inquisitive giants were in steep decline until the U.S. government imposed a ban on catching the species in 1990. Although a slow growth rate makes rebuilding their populations a slow process, it’s gratifying to see them up close and personal.

While we don’t have any photos today from underwater photographer Carlos Suárez as he is recovering from a cold (safety first) here are some of the stills from Gorka’s video. Early tomorrow morning, the Oceana Latitude will set sail for St. Petersburg for the next leg of the expedition, shark tagging.