Tugboat Curaçao, Day and Night

We’d dove Tugboat when Colin and Charlie had visited, but because it’s easy to get to from the anchorage, it was a nice low-effort dive to do again with our friend Lee. Plus, the last time we’d mostly hung out on the shelf, which meant there was a lot of reef we’d left unexplored. The shelf continued to delight, though. Octopus!

We passed the shelf pretty quickly, though, and headed for the wall. There, we found huge elephant ear sponges and tons of sea whips. Notice Jazz’s funny suit? The water was a shockingly warm 85॰F, and for the first time, Jazz found that her 7mm wetsuit was just too warm. So she stripped out of the top part, and did the rest of the dive with her sleeves dangling by her sides.

This also meant that her chest was less protected than she’s used to, and she fell prey to an unusual piece of fire coral at the end of a sea whip. Here she is, clutching her chest where she assumes she has a huge cut. With no visible mark at all (yet), Andrew was thoroughly confused by her pointing to her chest and telling him to take a photo. “You want this sponge with your boobs? Why? I mean, it’s nice sponge I guess, but…?” Jazz eventually ripped the camera out of Andrew’s hand, because she wanted a photo of the thing that had ripped her open, in case she needed medical help.

Over the next few days, the mark would become more and more visible.

Despite her (imagined) gaping wound, Jazz soldiered on and finished the dive, and we saw plenty more fish. Like this lionfish, and these grunts.

The coral was very nice, although Jazz spent a lot of the dive with a new fear of sea whips.

We had a couple of big schools pass by, above and below.

The best spot was a big coral head at our turn-around point. It was full of little crannies with critters, including a spotted lobster (too shy to photograph), some crabs and brittle stars (same), and the big feather worm on the right.

And there was this lazy scorpionfish with an excellent view over the edge of the wall.

As always, we returned in shallower water, which meant different corals and critters. Like these two french angels, an anemone full of tiny somethings, and a Jazzfish.

Here’s Jazz with again with a big gorgonian and a bunch of chromis, and an unusually sharp and clear shot of a spotted cleaning shrimp.

This time we’d spend a little more time looking at the wreck. Of particular note, the inside was full of glassy sweepers, which we haven’t seen lots of before. When we came back at night, we would find them swarming above the wreck, but now they were huddled inside hiding.

Then it was back in, along the shelf. No flying gurnard this time, but there were a couple of other cuties.

After seeing an octopus on both our visits, we were pretty excited to return to Tugboat as a night dive, though it would take us two weeks to make it happen. We showed up, ran the gauntlet of partying locals and military at the beach-side bar, and made it into the water. Lest we bury the lede: we saw not one, not two, but three different octopuses, all hunting and skulking and putting on their best light and color shows. The first one was just sitting on a sponge, blending in, and inked at us before basically accepting our presence and going back to its hunting.

We took a lot of octopus video, and these are some highlights; a compilation of the first and third that we saw. (The second was hiding under a staghorn coral farm, so it was fun to watch but not very photogenic.)

We passed by the tugboat on the way to the wall, and found it notably different. Most striking, all the (sun?) coral polyps were open and hunting. These are on the outside of the hull, but the inside was also totally full of these, at 2″ coating of neon yellow fuzz, like fake fur at an outdoor party in San Francisco. There was also this coral shrimp crawling around the hull.

Also on the way out, a parrotfish chilling under the staghorn coral, near octopus number two. (A local had told us to look for a black seahorse there, but it didn’t show its face.) Right, an especially active hermit crab.

From the department of slithery things: there were a ton of morays out hunting, and lots of little, near-invisible crawly things in the water. But the highlight of the slitherers was this manytooth conger, first picture. Another first for us!

Other critters: on the left, we think this is an orangeball corallimorph. Right… maybe a banded tube-dwelling anemone? And an ocellate swimming crab? We are far from experts, and different things come out at night.

All in all, an excellent dive. We got out of the water with 99 minutes on our dive watches; if we’d noticed, we might have stayed down and gone for the even 100.