Panama, Day 11

On Friday, we hopped in the boat at 0900 to take a half-hour ride to a freighter sunk about a mile off the Panama Canal entrance. This roughly 150′-long cargo ship was intentionally sunk in the mid 1970s, and we wanted to observe how much coral growth and fish activity the wreck contained now, 30 years later. That close to the canal entrance, we weren’t expecting good visibility, but were pleasantly surprised when we broke through a murky halocline at 15′ and could clearly see the wreck, located 45′ below. For a fairly recent wreck, the freighter had considerable coral growth, especially on the sheltered stern side, where we spotted a few sea cucumbers and starfish. On the exposed top deck, multiple schools of fish flitted around, including a group of docile spadefish that let us drift next to them, just inches away, without flinching. One of the most impressive finds on the dive was a large blue tang, measuring about ten inches in length, that darted in and out of the exposed substructure and we coasted overhead. Overall, a great wreck; unfortunately I, assuming the worst for visibility, neglected to bring the Gates housing–make that one more lesson learned: always bring the videocamera!