The Following Trip Report was submitted by Bryan from Sea Sports Scuba:
July 4th-6th, 2014
South Padre Island, TX
Our divers gathered for a meet & greet on Friday at the Sea Ranch Restaurant with myself and Rob Hancock of American Diving, South Padre. After a warm welcome, a quick briefing on the weekend’s events and a couple of drinks, it was time to watch the island’s outstanding fireworks display over Laguna Madre Bay.
Saturday we did two dives on the wreck of the Deep Six, an 80′ shrimp boat that went down in rough seas, splitting the hull and resting on a sandy bottom around 65’. She’s taken some damage from hurricanes over the years, and no longer has a super structure. However, since the wreck is not marked and doesn’t show up on any charts, there are loads of fish living around it. More scorpion fish than I’ve EVER seen in one spot, they were absolutely everywhere. The highlight was a surprise encounter with a very large Goliath Grouper attempting to hide from us under some wreckage. I say attempting because this was easily a 250 pound fish, so “hiding” is a relative term here! Water was around 82 on the surface, 72 on the bottom under the thermocline. Deep Six sits pretty close to shore, so she’s in green water, 12-15 feet of visibility on the bottom, better than that the shallower you are. Later that evening, the group returned to the marina for a sunset dolphin-watching cruise in the bay. We saw several pods of dolphins around the jetties, and took in a spectacular sunset. A great way to finish off the day!
On Sunday, we were headed back out into the Gulf of Mexico by 7 am, eagerly anticipating the main event of the weekend: our two dives on Texas Clipper! Conditions were picture perfect with smooth seas and 80+ feet of visibility on the wreck, which sits rolled on its left side on a 132’ bottom. The most interesting parts of the dive are between 60’ and 100’.
Upon splashing for our first dive, a huge school of Lookdowns were hovering above the central portion of the vessel, glistening in the cascading sunlight. A handful of large Amberjacks circled around slowly, and of course what Gulf of Mexico dive would be complete without a few large Barracuda? Just before coming up the mooring line at the end of our first dive, a nice sized male Southern Stingray cruised along the side of the Clipper’s hull and made a couple of passes as we ascended to the surface.
The Texas Clipper has a great swim through along the Promenade deck, where the large windows are now on the ceiling above you due to the orientation of the ship. You can see down into the vessel below you as you swim over openings that were cut into the thick walls. Another point of interest is a large crack in the hull that formed in 2008 as hurricane Ike moved through the Gulf on its way to the Houston area. Even though the storm was hundreds of miles away, the hydraulic force was enough to create a small canyon of twisted and torn steel big enough to swim through easily. Throughout the second dive, our group continued to enjoy the fish life attracted to the Clipper such as Queen Angels, Blackjacks, Snapper, and that same huge school of Lookdowns. Over the two dives on Sunday, divers on the boat killed fourteen lionfish!! How about that?!
The Gulf of Mexico, and more specifically the Texas Gulf Coast is home to some really unique and worthwhile diving opportunities. If you haven’t been down to South Padre Island to dive the Texas Clipper, I would highly recommend it. We’ve got a world-class wreck dive right off of our coast!