Diving the Texas Gulf!
The Texas Gulf has a shelf which extends from 40 to 110 miles off the coast. The base structure
of the food chain provides large quanities of deverse small shrimp and small fish. This results in
large quanities of larger pelgic and bottom dwelling marine life. The Texas coast has 36 different
banks which raise off the shelf floor. The underlying structure is salt domes thousands of feet below the
sea floor pushing upward and creating sea mounds. Some of these banks have living reefs like for
example the Flower Gardens, and others sponge covered like Stetson Bank. The banks which occur off
the Port Aransas area still have remains of dead coral reefs from the time periods when the sea was
forty to fifty feet lower. Currently these banks have large quanities of sponges and the top of the
banks are in 120 to 160 feet of water.
The Oil Industry resulted in the creation of artificial habitats of over 3000 production platforms
on the Texas Gulf Shelf. Many of these have been removed or placed in zones of Rigs to Reef areas
to maintain areas of fish habitats. In the Early to Late seventies the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
obtained Liberty Ships that were decommissioned from World War I and II. In planning for the future
the concrete ships had large holes cut into them to prevent divers from being trapped and allow schooling
fish to migrate through the wrecks. Most of these ships were placed in 100 feet of water with the tops
of the ships not exceeding the sixty foot level to avoid tankers ramming them. Each Port area along
the Texas Gulf has ships placed from 10 miles to 35 miles off shore to provide recreationial sport use within
a reasonable distance to shore.
Most diving along the Texas Coast has been slow in developing due to several reasons. First dive shops could make
more money running trips to Cozumel and always promoted that there was no diving in the Gulf. Only those fisherman which
became divers to spearfish really enjoyed the secretes of Texas Gulf Diving. In 1989 with the Flower Garden gaining
Boats and tours to the Flower Gardens and Charter Boats started running regular trips to Oil Rigs did the sport
of Diving Texas Gulf really get going. The nature of Charter Boats mostly being six passager has keep gulf diving
around the $100 to $200 dollar range for trips to Rigs 30 to 40 miles off shore. The multi day trips to the Flower Gardens
has stayed around the $300 to $500 dollar range which limits the type of divers who visit. In the upper coast there
has yet to be a party type charter boat which can carry 10 to 20 people to arrive. Once this occurs pricing will be around the
$55 dollar range for a two tank rig or wreck dive. The major problem is that of new type venture of Four hundred Thousand dollars
to One-Million dollars to get an operation into full swing. Not many banks or venture capital groups will take the risk
on this type venture due to attitude of dive shops not getting enough profit and will turn people against that option.
Most dive stores are profit orientated with hobbie type attitudes which hurt the industry in Texas. Not providing the
foundation to grow the industry, even though Texas is the Fourth largest state certifing divers.
Diving in the Texas Gulf can be rewarding fun with great marine life that can not be seen in the quanities any where else
in the world. Adventures to Rigs, ship wrecks and the banks will be awesome experience if you dive with experienced season
dive guides who know where, when to dive and when to cancell a dive due to tides, currents, waves or potiential weather problems and
even water tempature. A good website for learning about the Texas Gulf and Rigs is BoatDive Charters which
has ten years of diving Texas Rigs and photographing the marine life off shore.
Usually one needs to start watching the weather about 5 days before a
trip in the Gulf of Mexico. If the winds are from the North it results in large swells and will
take one to two days for the seas to lay flat again. Always take seasick medicine
an hour before the boat gets underway.
The better explored your dive adventure, the better it will be, Well Planned!