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Southwest Cut offers wall diving together with larger fish watching critters doing their thing on the coral reef.
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Bordered by a wide channel, Southwest Cut is exposed to a flood of lagoon water and sometimes ocean swells that cross the lagoon from the windward side. Frequent changes in current strength, visibility and water temperature can be expected during the day, except when winds come from the north or northwest. Even when favorable winds exist, water temperature will change dramatically near the wall, where a plume of warm lagoon water escapes in the channel, crosses the reef and passes over the cool water of the open sea.
The reef at Southwest Cut is peculiar. Much of the reef top is covered with algae, soft coral and sand. The reef is dissected by wide sand channels that plunge steeply to great depths. Except for local accumulations of turtle grass mats, the channels are pretty much barren of marine life. Only the wall with its many grottos and holes appears to team with life and offers the best opportunity to see shrimp, eels and various other organisms.
The variety of marine life seen during the day at this site can take your breath away, but the most consistent good diving occurs here at night. Dozens of basket starfish can be seen clinging to soft corals near and on the wall. A varied collection of eels also emerge from their shelters in the reef. Many come to the turtle grass mats in the channel to feed, while others, such as sharp-tail eels, are most frequently spotted in the large coral heads behind the wall. Here and elsewhere on the sand flats or among the scattered coral heads are good places to find scorpion fish and loads of tarpons can be seen swimming above the reef. You might also see some unusual critters here, such as the yellow-banded coral shrimp or the sail-finned blenny. You can also get right up to some of the trunkfish and filefish for some excellent photographs. Huge hogfish congregate here too, and there are always some nudibranch or manta rays to spice up the diving at this site.
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