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Oil Rigs in Gulf of Mexico:

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Location: Oil Rigs in Gulf of Mexico (United States (south))
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For every terrific or easy day of diving the rigs, there are likely 100 days where the conditions will test and challenge even the most experienced of divers. In short, the 'rigs' are not for the meek or inexperienced.

As the Mississippi River flows down and out into the Gulf of Mexico, it creates a potential yet real obstacle for diving. This fresh water can cause a zero visibility layer of silt-laden water at the surface extending down to unforeseeable depths. This river water invasion lends to additional appearance difficulties such as the locally famous 'haloclines' which cause everything to look blurry and out of focus. The Mississippi River water also creates unusual temperature changes not common to other diving areas. Matters of buoyancy, temperature variations, and visual acuity can be adversely affected.

The dive boat must be kept a safe distance away from the rig for protection of itself and the divers it transports. For this reason, a line-guided surface swim from the boat to the rig is required. The diver's fatigue level and potential inability to follow strict directions are key issues.

Only after arriving at the actual and physical rig structure itself should a diver descend down a particular pipe or leg, in single file, to join up with the dive buddy. As per the rig diving 'Rule of Thumb,' decisions and guidelines for each dive must be discussed and agreed to prior to entering the water.

There is little margin for error when the river causes top water to be muddy. A dive light is a necessity when the visibility is limited. And we never know exactly where or how deep the river water has intruded. This phenomenon is never truly known until actually experienced at each dive day on any given rig. And bear in mind that circumstances or conditions can change very quickly, even while underwater during the dive.

Divers must wear sturdy gloves to protect against the many barnacles and otherwise rusted steel structure. And for the same reason, no human flesh should be left exposed -- cover everything possible with a wetsuit of appropriate thickness. Divers should also have a minimum of one sharp yet strong knife due to the possibility of entanglement in fishing line and Spyder wire left behind by unsuccessful fishermen. And let us not forget about the fallen rig cables from workers topside. This is nothing a knife or cutting pliers can cut but rather something a diver needs to avoid.

Once the descent is accomplished without event, superb buoyancy skills come into play. Because the rigs most preferred are those in water 300 feet deep and more, a diver must constantly monitor where s/he is at all times. With 200+ feet of visibility both vertically and horizontally, it is easy to forget and descend deeper than planned. For this reason, diving NITROX is not recommended at the oil rigs.

Now that you understand the guidelines and rules for diving the rigs, let me tell you about how wonderful they can be. As a matter of fact, if I, personally, were condemned to dive only one area for the remainder of my life, considering anywhere and everywhere possible on earth, I would have to choose the rigs. Why? Each rig is like an island unto itself. They can be neighbors or foreign to one another. Some rigs are known for their shark activity. Others are famous for their tropical fish life. Still other rigs are known for the abundance of snappers and other game fish that frequent them. Some rigs are in deep water while others stand in 40 feet or less. Some are lying on their sides, some stand firmly on the bottom, and others are anchored with cables to counter the positive buoyancy of submerged ballast containers.

Each year or season, the 'personality' of any given rig can change. The water temperatures and accompanying marine life change measurably with topside seasonal variations. I cannot begin to explain all that is and all that can be at the oil rigs. Suffice it to say that I have seen and photographed virtually every size and species of fish common the Caribbean - bar none. We see Spiny Langousta (lobsters) with regularity while the octopus and eel are more elusive. But isn't this also true in the Caribbean?

How often has a Manta Ray offered you a ride in the Caribbean? How does such a creature offer a ride you ask? In my experienced opinion, when a manta ray comes over to gently glide by allowing a diver to reach out and stroke him without fear, it is a good thing. But . . . when he comes back three or four times to 'hang out' with you, I consider it a blatant invitation to hop on and go for a ride. If you have not spooked the manta, go along but keep your mind and wits about you. This is a one-way trip to an undisclosed destination. Remain vigil as to your whereabouts and nitrogen status. And what about the air supply? Might you be a bit more excited than usual thereby breathing more rapidly? This sort of encounter has happened to me not once, not twice, but THREE times and all of them at the oil rigs. Naturally, diving conditions were perfect at the time. Crystal clear water. No current! No river water invasion. This experience provided terrific elation of a particular diver I happen to know very well. (me)


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Climate Data:
View data in degrees Fahrenheit.
Average air temperature: Chance of rain: Hours of sun / day:
Surface water temperature: Water temperature at 30m: Water visibility:
General Info:

Travel Tips:
Language: English
Money: USD
Stability: No travelling problems expected
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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Please add your review of Oil Rigs in Gulf of Mexico here:

When did you go?
What was the visibility like?
Would you go again?
What else could you do?
Your first name/nickname:
Did you see any of these?
(the information you provide
will help create the
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
No Some Always
French Angelfish
No Some Always
Great Barracuda
No Some Always
Great Hammerhead
No Some Always
Green Moray
No Some Always
Green Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Humpback Whale
No Some Always
Leatherback Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Longlure Frogfish
No Some Always
Longspine Porcupine Fish
No Some Always
Manta Ray
No Some Always
Nurse Shark
No Some Always
Orca (Killer Whale)
No Some Always
Pilot Whale
No Some Always
Queen Angel Fish
No Some Always
Reef Squid
No Some Always
Scorpion Fish
No Some Always
Sixgill Shark
No Some Always
Southern Stingray
No Some Always
Spotted Eagle Ray
No Some Always
Tarpon
No Some Always
Trumpetfish
No Some Always
West Indian Manatee
No Some Always
Whale Shark
No Some Always
What was the name of your favourite dive?
What was the coral damage like?
Were there any reef fish?
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