Walt Stearns: Florida’s Palm Beach Coast
The 45-mile stretch of coastline of Florida’s largest county Palm Beach often goes by the nickname Florida’s Gold Coast. While this title might apply to the golden tint of the beach sands, the real gold is the incredible diversity and density of marine life that is regularly seen here.
On any given day, divers are likely to see fish in more significant concentration and sizes than you’d encounter at any dive site in the Caribbean. The list of big-ticket subjects includes sea turtles (all 5 species found in the Atlantic), sharks (lemon, bull, reef, sandbar, silky, tiger, hammerhead, etc.) and there is, of course, the Palm Beaches heavyweight darling, the goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara).
Growing to weights over 450 lbs., goliaths are the biggest member of the grouper family in the world. Adding to that spectacle, during August and September, these heavyweights of the reef form spawning aggregations of the likes you will not find anywhere else in the world.
Ask any local diver in Palm Beach Florida as to why the diving here is excitingly good here; you’re likely to get the answer; “it’s the Gulf Stream silly.”
That part would be correct, as this significant player of the Atlantic’s oceanic currents sweeps closer to shore (sometimes a mere 3 miles out) here than anywhere else along the US Atlantic coast. The reason as to why is due to a geographical quirk as the contours of the continental shelf reach its narrowest point spanning as little as 3.5 miles in width. In addition to retaining closest point than anywhere else along the Eastern Seaboard, this particular part of the Florida coast bulges eastward into the pathway in the Stream as it flows northward through the Florida Straits placing those sparkling blue waters right on the Palm Beaches doorstep.
To see more of Walt’s stunning work, please visit his website.