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Location: Montserrat Island (Montserrat)
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Some of Montserrat's greatest treasures lie in the sea. This volcanic island was never densely populated. In her best times before the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted, not more than 12 000 people lived on the island, too few to seriously pollute the surrounding sea. Thus, Montserrat is one of only very few places in the Caribbean, where hard corals are virtually free of the destructive diseases attributed to pollution.

The island is surrounded by a shelf that gently slopes from the coast to about 60 feet depth. Then the sea floor abruptly drops into the abyss of the Caribbean Sea. The shelf is covered with sand and volcanic rocks. The rocks form the base of extensive patch reefs. The rim of the shelf slopes down by about 45 degrees. Outcroppings of rocky material provide substrate for deep water reef communities.

The East Coast

The east coast of the island is exposed to the heavy surf driven from the Atlantic by the trade winds. Only the hardiest of the species can cope with the forces of the heavy surges that constantly wash over the rocks. The conditions for diving and snorkelling on the east coast are very demanding and only the most well trained and strongest individuals should attempt it.

The West Coast

The west coast is in the lee of the island for the most part of the year. Thus, the conditions are usually calm and the shallow reefs could develop to their full potential. Most of the diving and snorkelling is done on the West coast. However in the winter months quite often waves from the North West can generate heavy surf on this side of the island too.In general, the distribution pattern of rocks and sand mirrors the contour of the coast line. At places where the coastline is shallow and where beaches form, the sea floor is usually sand bottom. Under cliffs, the sea floor is usually littered with rocks and stony ledges. Here, the diving is spectacular.

In the very shallow region (10 to 30 feet), adjacent to the cliffs, we find mostly boulders of variable sizes. They are covered with sponges, and hard corals (picture). Small to medium size brain corals, star corals, and pillar corals compete for space. Sea plumes and sea fans provide a fairy-tale forest. Colourful reef fish dart around. Snails of all kind forage for food. An occasional octopus climbs over rocks, and in small caverns, formed by rocks piled one upon another, one might spot a spiny lobster. Cleaner shrimps and tiny cleaner fish advertise their services.

A little further out to the sea at a depth of 40 to 50 feet the bolder fields are replaced by rocky ledges separated by valleys, that often have been compared to isles in a supermarket. But what a supermarket! You could stay in one spot for an hour and you will not have seen all of the stunning details on the shelves. This is the region where large barrel sponges mimic medieval castles, where the brain and star corals grow to considerable sizes, where you find small caverns full of copper sweepers, spotted drums, and other creatures who wait out the daytime hours in the safety of their hiding places. Larger fish patrol the reefs and you may be lucky to find a sea turtle resting under a ledge.

At about 50 feet the shelf of the island is covered by sand. The sand flat extends into the sea until it reaches the rim of the island's shelf in 60 to 70 feet of water. Here you enter the region of the deep reefs. They consist of large patches of rocky outcroppings embedded into the slope of the shelf. These areas are protected from the surges of most storms. The most delicate life forms of the tropical reef community can survive here. You will find spectacular brain corals, star corals, gigantic barrel sponges and slender tube sponges. The fish are plentiful and most of them carry on their lives undisturbed by the visiting SCUBA diver. You may encounter huge pelagic fish darting along. Some areas may be covered with the delicate branches of the fragile staghorn coral, an ideal hiding place for the smaller and more timid creatures of the reef.

The North Coast

The activity of the Soufriere Hills Volcano has gone back to almost the pre-volcanic level. However, some restrictions still apply and diving is mainly done in the northern part of the island. The area from Old Road Bluff to the North West Bluff comprises the majority of the dive sites anyhow. The relaxation of the safety restrictions will allow us soon to dive on the new lava deposits. We will witness the formation of new coral reefs.

Information courtesy Seawolf Diving School http//www.seawolfdivingschool.com/
Location Photos: (shared by My Blue Planet users)

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Climate Data:
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Average air temperature: Chance of rain: Hours of sun / day:
Surface water temperature: Water temperature at 30m: Water visibility:
General Info:

Travel Tips:
Most visitors thought
Montserrat Island was:
Good.
Ranked as Good by independant reviews Ranked as Good by independant reviews Ranked as Good by independant reviews Ranked as Good by independant reviews
Non diving activities: Some things to see and do.
Language: English
Money: Local Currency
Stability: Active travel warnings exist for this location (see Lonely Planet)!
More Information: Country Bio from Lonely Planet


Rating: Ranked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviews95%
Highest ranked My Blue Planet photo shared by Sushi.
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Marine Sightings section)

Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna
No Some Always
Banded Butterflyfish
No Some Always
Basking Shark
No Some Always
Bluntnose Stingray
No Some Always
Bottlenose Dolphin
No Some Always
Caribbean Reef Shark
No Some Always
Caribbean Spiny Lobster
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French Angelfish
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Great Barracuda
No Some Always
Great Hammerhead
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Green Moray
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Green Sea Turtle
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Hawksbill Sea Turtle
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Humpback Whale
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Leatherback Sea Turtle
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Longlure Frogfish
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Longspine Porcupine Fish
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Manta Ray
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Nurse Shark
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Orca (Killer Whale)
No Some Always
Pilot Whale
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Queen Angel Fish
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Reef Squid
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Scorpion Fish
No Some Always
Sixgill Shark
No Some Always
Southern Stingray
No Some Always
Spotted Eagle Ray
No Some Always
Tarpon
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Trumpetfish
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West Indian Manatee
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Whale Shark
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