Turks and Caicos Diving: Our Marine Life
A large area of the coast of Provo comprises the Princess Alexandra National Park within which there is no commercial or sport fishing allowed. As a result, the diver benefits from a profusion of marine life at the Turks and Caicos dive sites, most of which remain undisturbed by visiting divers. Even outside the boundaries of the Princess Alexandra National Park, the dive operators all happily support a policy of coral reef preservation and conservation.
Sharks: Caribbean reef sharks are frequently seen cruising the depths off the walls at the Provo dive sites along North West Point and West Caicos, But do not discount Grace Bay, which often produces a shark fest all of its own. While Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks are by far the most common, blacktips, tiger sharks, and hammerheads are sometimes spotted.
Turtles: Always a crowd-pleaser, these pre-historic creatures, although endangered in many areas, are seen quite commonly on our dives. The very pretty Hawksbill Turtles are most commonly sighted. (We’ve got a nice close-up video for you to watch on our YouTube channel.)
Bottlenose Dolphin: Sometimes seen underwater on dives, but more often enjoyed as they play in the wake of the boats traveling to and from the dive sites. Perhaps the best-known denizen of the Provo sea is “Jojo,” a bottlenose dolphin who has frequented the area since the 1980s. Jojo is wild, but frequently visits divers and seems to enjoy human company.
Whales: Humpback whales are frequently seen in January through March when they are migrating to the Silver Banks off the Dominican Republic to mate and calf.
Rays: Sightings of Spotted Eagle Rays seems cyclical at most Turks and Caicos dive sites. Usually seen in ones and twos cruising the edge of the barrier reef, some years produce huge schools of eagle rays, especially at the southern sites. Imagine flying along the edge of the wall among 15 or 16 eagle rays. Southern Stingrays are more commonly sighted skimming along the sand.
Grouper: Provo is also home to many large groupers which can be seen regularly at cleaning stations on the reef. Nassau Groupers are particularly friendly with some openly welcoming interaction with divers.
Grunts: Large schools of brightly coloured grunts, ideal subjects for photography, are seen at many Turks and Caicos dive sites. Look for them in abundance among the staghorn coral at the Boneyards in Grace Bay.
Horse-eyed Jacks: These are perhaps the signature fish of Northwest Point. Spend an enchanting safety stop watching their hypnotic circling as you hang under the boat.
Eels: Easily swum over, just take a close look at the reef to see large green moray or tiny golden spotted eels. Above all, don’t forget to keep an eye out for garden eels as well, but approach slowly or they will disappear into their holes!
Squid and Octopus: Often elusive but always worth looking for. The squid you’re most likely to see the mid-water column in the shallows. While most octopuses hunt at night, they occasionally forage out during the daylight. They have exceptional camouflage skills and can transform their skin into long, lumpy ridges, mimicking nearby corals, rocks, or algae.
Burrowers: The Yellowhead Jawfish is a shy, but wonderful-looking fish. With a bright yellow head and a white or light blue body, they love to burrow in the shallows. Any number of blennies and gobies can be found in nooks in coral heads as well. So go slow and look sharp!