FORT MYERS, Fla. - You shared with us your five favorite dive sites in Southwest Florida and WINK News is taking you to each one.
Last month, we showed you a reef named for the famous inventor Thomas Edison. Now, we're diving your fourth favorite spot, a reef not created by man but by nature.
21 miles into the Gulf, you'll find one of nature's unique creations: the 240 ledge.
Named for the 240 degree heading from the Sanibel Lighthouse, the ledge starts and stops; it's full length not even known.
It's vast size means more to see and more fish.
"The ledge is really popular for its sportfish there. So your groupers and snappers are always found there," says Mike Campbell, Environmental Specialist with Lee County Department of Natural Resources.
Along with the big sport fish, you'll find plenty of smaller tropical fish. Marine-life on the ledge reminds me of what it might be like to swim in a saltwater aquarium. The ledge's low profile attracts smaller animals, but larger fish still make their presence known.
For instance, the "king" of the ledge is a Goliath Grouper. Weighing about 600 pounds, with an entourage of bait fish and even a remora in tow, the "king" can barely fit his massive body under the five foot ledge.
Campbell describes natural ledges like these as swiss cheese.
"You've got all these fish going into this crevice, this ledge on the bottom. Then you'll see them pop up out of these holes ten feet away," Campbell says. "It's pretty funny, all the cracks and crevices. It's a very complex ecosystem."
On our ascent, translucent saucers bob around us, dozens of moon jellies, some a foot in diameter. Their graceful demeanor disguises their ability to sting. I leave them floating effortlessly and depart the care-free underwater world.
Next month, we continue our dive series with Captiva Blue Hole, a massive sinkhole off Lee County's coast the descends nearly 200 feet! It's an underwater adventure you won't want to miss.