Out on the reef and under the surface is about the best place to enjoy what Florida has to offer while still maintaining distance. Luckily, August on the Treasure Coast is an exciting time of year to be in the water because lobster season is back and grouper and hogfish seasons continue to remain open.
This summer has been great for exploring nearshore waters and beach diving spots thanks to weeks of clear water and calm conditions. Snorkeling around high tide is always best for clearest water nearshore and generally, you should be able to see the reef while standing on the beach wearing polarized sunglasses. If visibility is poor, the reef will be obscured. Offshore, clean water can also indicate strong currents due to the proximity to the Gulf Stream. For this reason, drift diving is the way to go and it’s important captains and divers review some important details before jumping in. Carrying a float ball is a critical part of the process and knowing what to do if the float line snaps or the ball gets pulled under while a diver is hooked off to the bottom can help everyone get back on board safely. Large capacity reels for more scope, handheld grappling hooks to hold the bottom and a two-buoy system are all great ways to handle heavy current. Large, rigid float balls with more volume tend to stay on the surface better them small Styrofoam styles used by snorkelers. Establishing an emergency recall system (like revving the engines three times) and agreeing when to activate professional search and rescue in the event of separation are all good practices. Divers should carry signal devices with them in the water like inflatable safety sausages, signal mirrors and whistles.
Many locals who skipped the rush of mini season may time their first dive trip in August to coincide with opening weekend of lobster season. Since grouper and hogfish seasons are both open, buddy teams may consider each taking a different role on the dive to increase the odds of success and not to get too overloaded with equipment. For example, one diver has lobster and lionfish supplies and the other carries the speargun and fish stringer. This way, each diver has a narrow objective, the other can lend help as needed and both can focus on being good at only one or two activities yet still have all options covered.