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Scuba Diving In Texas

 


 

Scuba diving in Texas sounds a bit weird as Texas rarely makes anyone's list as a major scuba diving destination, which is peculiar since it shares the same warm, clear Gulf of Mexico waters as its more popular neighbor of Mexico. Yet Texas diving has it all: major shipwrecks, marine sanctuaries, big pelagic sea life and even inland freshwater diving sites. For novice and advanced divers scuba diving in Texas has plenty of sites on offer.

 

Scuba diving in Texas

 

Scuba Diving In Texas: General Information

The underwater world may strike you with its beauty and diversity while scuba diving in Texas. State has lakes, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico in which to dive. Over 6,000 square miles of this state’s land is covered in water. Interestingly, the only lake in Texas that is naturally formed is Caddo Lake in East Texas. All other lakes in the state are man-made. Texas boasts several scuba parks which have underwater attractions and on-site air fill stations. It is worth to mention here Athens Scuba Park, Balmorhea State Park, Blue Lagoon, Clear Springs Scuba Park, and many other great places to visit.

Another place that draws attention is located in Hill Country in Central Texas. And name of this one of the most significant natural geologic treasures in Texas is Jacob's Well. It is considered as the one of the world's most dangerous dive sites. These days Jacob's Well is only open to swimmers and free divers after 12 scuba divers have died at the site.

 

Scuba Diving In Texas: Diving Conditions

Temperatures: Spring-fed waters such as the Comal River, Guadalupe River, and Balmorhea are usually 72 degrees Farenheit year-round in Texas. Lake water temperatures vary dramatically according to season. From June through October the surface water temperatures can be in the mid-80’s to even 90 degrees. In the winter our lakes can drop to the 40’s and 50’s. Just because it is a warm day outside does not mean the water is also warm; the waters usually stay cold until June although we frequently have hot weather long before that. Water temperatures are generally warm from June to November.

When scuba diving in Texas you need to know that lakes develop seasonal thermoclines. A thermocline is an area underwater in which the water temperature changes. The change can be very dramatic. Warmer water develops a layer at the surface and cooler water will stratify at depth. If you enter a thermocline you will immediately notice the water is much cooler than the water you were just in. To warm up just ascend a few feet until you exit the cooler water section. A body of water can have more than one thermocline.

Here is a link for water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico

 

Visibility: The water visibility varies widely in Texas. The Spring season is the time for the best water clarity for Texas lakes. Good visibility in a Texas lake can be 10 feet in some lakes and 40 feet in others. Spring-fed lakes and rivers are usually fairly clear year-round. The Gulf of Mexico generally has poor visibility closer to shore which improves the farther you get from shore.

 

Hazards: Probably the most overlooked hazard of scuba diving in Texas is fishing line. Texans love to fish and that means lots of fishing line left underwater. Divers can become entangled in this line and should be very wary of it. The line can be practically invisible and cannot be broken with the hands when it is new. Divers should always carry a dive knife and/or shears with them to cut any line they may become entangled in.
Unlike the ocean which has a huge variety of creatures, fresh water does not usually have a lot of potentially dangerous aquatic life. Some Texas lakes are home to alligators and water snakes. Usually these creatures are not aggressive unless provoked but it’s probably best to give them a wide berth. Ocean creatures like sharks and morays are usually only dangerous to divers who harass and feed them.
Wrecks are a dangerous allure for many divers. Wreck dangers include entanglement, injury, and overhead environments. They are often a tangle of loose wires, cable, and sharp edges. Entering a wreck can lead to disorientation and the dangers of an overhead environment.

Excerpt from Texas Dive Sites

 

Scuba Diving In Texas: Marine Flora & Fauna

Fresh Water Marine Life: Underwater creatures you will find in Texas lakes and rivers include bass, carp, sunfish, and catfish. Of course, each location will have something a little different. Balmorhea State Park in West Texas and Spring Lake in Central Texas have endangered species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Some Texas lakes are home to alligators and water snakes.

Salt Water Marine Life: The Flower Gardens Reef in the Gulf of Mexico is home to many coral species and reef dwelling fish. Some divers may be lucky to encounter a migrating whale shark or hammerheads. Moray eels live in the coral heads. Rays and turtles are sometimes seen, as are dolphins. Also you may meet striped mullet, black drum, spotted seatrout, tarpon, variety of snappers, crabs, etc.

Excerpt from Texas Dive Sites

 

Scuba Diving In Texas: Scuba Diving Centres

Athens Scuba Park Clear Springs Scuba Park International Scuba Texan Scuba Inc The Blue Lagoon
tripadvisor tripadvisor tripadvisor tripadvisor tripadvisor

Just a few Dive Shops in Texas (click on TripAdvisor icon to read divers' reviews)

 

For more scuba shops and dive sites visit TexasOutside

 

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Scuba Diving In Texas: The Best Scuba Diving Locations

State is washed by waters of Gulf of Mexico and has many man-made lakes, and ship-wrecks in open waters acceptible for scuba diving in Texas. We mention only the most popular and well-known not only in US, but around the world.

 

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

It is one of the most famous dive site is located 100 miles off the coastline. The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary encompasses a triad of reefs bathed in bio-rich Gulf Stream eddies that nourish an awesome assortment of exciting marine life. The East and West Flower Garden Banks reefs are 12 miles apart with plateaus of 250 acres and 100 acres respectively. They are the northernmost coral reefs on the North American continental shelf, and host more than 20 species of corals and at least 180 species of fish.

Besides an impressive array of stony corals and Caribbean tropicals, the Flower Garden Banks also attract much larger animals like manta rays, loggerhead turtles and silky sharks. Yet on most trips it’s common to see a silky, sandbar or nurse shark. And each year, two remarkable events occur. From January to early April, schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks migrate through the Gardens; seven to 10 days after the August full moon, the reef explodes in a reproduction frenzy known as mass coral spawning.

Winter season runs February through April; summer season is May through September. The calmest seas occur at end of July through mid-September.

Dive Conditions: Water temperatures vary from the mid-60s to low 70s in winter and from the low to mid-80s during the summer. Visibility ranges from 30 to 60 feet in the winter and 75 to 100-plus feet during the summer.

 

For more info visit Scubadiving.com

 

Twin Lakes in Manvel

Twin Lakes was a sand pit until about 15 years ago. After some time it started filling in with water and now it is about 31 acres of clear, aquifer fed lake water. Larger of the twin lakes which ia approx. 20 acres in size. The max depth found has been 52 feet but that's only in a few deep areas, 30-40 feet is the general depth. In the summer the first thermocline is around 22-24 feet where the water drops into the 60's and a second thermocline is around 30 feet where it stay in the 50's. From the surface to 22 feet, the temps range from 70º in early May up to 86-88º at the end of the summer. Visibility can range from 10-15 feet during the week and early on Saturdays. Later in the day, vis can be as low as 3-4 feet...or less.

Wreck diving available in this park - it has 5 sunk boats and even 1 bus. Typical underwater inhabitants are big bass, striper, catfish, turtles, panfish, perch. So after diving you may go fishing following your no-fly and desaturation schedule!

 

Clear Springs Scuba Park

Clear Springs Scuba Park is a 22 acre spring fed lake (an old quarry, spring fed, but no outlet) just northeast of Terrell, Tx. near Dallas. The park features incredibly clear water (for scuba diving in Texas north side) with visibility ranging from approximately 10 to 30+ feet. Visibility has probably averaged 20-25 feet in summer. Maximum depth of the lake is about 63 feet. Water temperature varies from a peak of about 84°F at the surface with a thermocline at about 30 feet dropping to the 50's in summer to about 50°F top to bottom in winter.

There is a sunk 1944 Chrysler steel hull cabin cruiser to the bottom of the lake. The boat is open for penetration and wreck certification practice.

To allow for deep-diver certifications, a section of a grain silo, 15 feet (5 m) in diameter, was placed in the deepest part of the lake. It rests at a depth of 63 feet (19 m), which meets the certification requirement of many training agencies. A second silo barrier is planned for placement in late 2003.

The southern shore of the lake features steep walls where instructors have students practice their buoyancy skills in preparation for diving ocean walls. Beds of hydrilla plants grow all along the lake and provide a lush landscape and nursery to the lake's amazing abundance of fish life. Catfish, bass, crappie, bluegill and turtles are numerous in the lake. There have even been a few sightings of freshwater eels.

 

Athens Scuba Park

Since 1987, Athens Scuba Park has always been a safe and relaxing location for divers to come out and spend a day or a weekend away from the city. The spring-fed warm waters boast an average visibility of 35 feet that can peak at 70 feet. The lake’s depth is from 20 to 35 feet with the park facilities designed for maximum safety and enjoyment for divers. There are 11 diving docks with shaded pavilions for sun and rain protection, hot/cold showers w/ shampoo and conditioner in the bath house, and camping areas for all size groups.

Park offers wide range of 30+ wrecks to discover. Dive thru its new 60 feet Hawker 600 Jet or investigate our three new 30 feet sail boats. You can dip down onto the Take Two, a triple-deck houseboat as well as explore the DART bus that made its last stop over off of dock # 7. Then after that, make your way over to dock # 11 where a Lockheed C-140 Jet Star plane also arrived at its last destination.

 

Deep 6 Wreck, South Padre Island

This wreck was an 82 feet shrimp boat that sank in rough seas. Now, the wreck lies in 60 feet of water off the coast and located 11 miles from the South Padre Island jetties.
Now, schools of fish, eels, turtles, and rays are seen on the wreck. It's great for nearly every diver looking for adventure in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is accessible only by boat. Dive site is characterized with its average depth of 45 feet/14 meters, low currents, and visibility from 10 to 30 meters.

 

Texas Clipper, South Padre Island

South Padre Island is a great area in scuba diving in Texas because of its reefs that are made of "iron" — shipwrecks and natural-gas-production platforms commonly known as rigs. What's cool is these rigs host many of the tropical fish and inver­tebrates you would expect see on natural reefs in Gulf of Mexico such as angelfish, cocoa damselfish and arrow crabs, and occasional encounters with cownose rays, mola mola, spinner dol­phins and even whale sharks. But if your passion is exploring wrecks, all you need is diving Texas Clipper.

The 472-foot-long cruiser, formerly known as the USS Queens, lies on its port side in 132 feet of water. Built in 1944, the Queens first served as a Navy attack transport during World War II, carrying troops to Iwo Jima. After the war, it was refitted as a luxury cruise ship and renamed the SS Excambion. The third phase of its life came in 1965, when it began a 25-year service as a floating classroom for Texas A&M merchant-marine students.
In 2006, Texas Clipper was transferred to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Artificial Reef Program to be turned into an artificial reef.


The Texas Clipper is a multilevel dive, meaning experienced, open-water certified divers can explore the A deck and the Promenade at 62 to 80 feet. Penetration divers, experienced with overhead environments, can tackle interior spaces to depths from 70 feet to over 110 feet. Meanwhile, because much of the wreck is more than 60 feet above the bottom it may be explored by entry level divers. We recommend entry level divers consider professionally guided dives.

The Texas Clipper can be compared to a large museum, requiring scuba divers to make several trips to fully appreciate it because of the size.

 

Valhalla

At the times of "Cold war" this area was built for Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). But nowadays this site is engaged in more peaceful duty - it's a dive site! Nature has had its way with these structures over the years and some are partially or wholly flooded with groundwater that filters through the concrete walls over time. The only safely diveable Atlas 'F' Hardened Missile Silo in existence is run by Family Scuba Center in Midland, Texas and is called "Dive Valhalla".

The water is 60 degrees, 130 feet deep and crystal clear. The silo is 60 feet in diameter and everything from the dressing areas and bathroom to the lighting systems and the actual dive area is 50-70 feet underground.
With constant 68 degrees air temperature and consistant lighting at all times, and without overhead obstructions, the diving is safe and comfortable for certified divers.


For divers to have the most fun, however, we recommend advanced certification and cold water experience as well as familiarity with altitude diving procedures and good buoyancy control. Since divers must climb down stairs 30 feet in full gear to get to the water and 30 feet back up to get out, you need to be in good health and physical condition to enjoy this dive!

Dive Valhalla is not open to the general public, but dives are easily arranged for dive clubs and dive shops by reservation. The group must consist of an instructor or insured divemaster who will be responsible for coordinating the diving activities and maintaining safety divers ready for any problems that might occur.

Currently, divers from all over the world are already enjoying the site for advanced openwater training in deep diving, altitude dives, nitrox, rebreathers and other specialty courses.

 
***Dive sites information was quoted from various web-sources

 

Diversity of dive sites made scuba diving in Texas popular type outdoor activities. So opportunities are impressive: everyone can choose a dive to one's liking and suitible to one's preferences. If you are a beginner - most dive shops have all necessary training to bring you up to the level and help discovering wonderful underwater world of The Lone Star State!

 

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