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What To Expect On A Big Mama's Reef Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Big Mama's Reef will visit what is primarily a large channel of sand that is contained by a colossal reef. Located just off Point Blanche Bay, St. Maarten to the southeast, The maximum depth of this site is 164 feet (50 m) although the average depth is 40 feet (12 m). Visibility is usually around 100 feet (30 m), and with little current this site is suitable for Open Water divers, or equivalent.
Positioned between Time Tunnels and Hens & Chickens, and to the east of HMS Proselyte, the site lies beyond the traffic of cruise ships and in calm waters.
What you can see
Sharks! Caribbean reef sharks are the most common shark species here, with the occasional visit from nurse sharks and if you're lucky, the Atlantic sharpnose shark. Both nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks can measure up to 10 feet (3m) in length, providing prime opportunity to take some amazing photos to show off to your friends! Diving with sharks from a liveaboard cruise at Big Mama's Reef is a great thrill while being a very safe activity.
Big Mama's Reef is an incredibly special reef. It is one of the few remaining locations in the Caribbean where sharks naturally congregate and are free to come and go. But why does this make Big Mama's Reef so important?
Every year, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed. Typically, they are targeted for their fins or they are caught as by-catch on trawlers. Only recently have we begun to understand the profound devastation this is causing all oceans.
As apex predators, sharks curate the oceans and act as ocean-health indicators. They keep the general balance of life sustainable in the ocean. Sharks achieve this by being efficient predators; they target weak, sick and slow fish, preventing the spread of diseases, as well as ensuring that numbers of other competitive predators stay under control. This helps to establish and maintain healthy schools of fish, and a high species diversity.
Big Mama's Reef is where you will also see the larger species, such as grouper, barracuda, stingrays and the very pretty French angelfish. Big, complicated structures of Elkhorn coral are found on the surrounding reef, providing the perfect shelter for many other species like parrotfish, lobster, squirrelfish and shrimp.
Although accessible by smaller boats on day-trips, a St. Maarten/Martin liveaboard cruise offers the best means of diving Big Mama's Reef, avoiding a long trip in a small boat over what can be choppy water. The Caribbean Explorer II liveaboard departs from either Bobby's Marina in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, or from the Basseterre Marina in St. Kitts.
St. Maarten/Martin's only airport is the Princess Juliana International Airport, located in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. Both Air France and KLM offer daily flights from Europe, while several carriers from the US also fly directly. From here, it is a short drive to Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten on the southern, Dutch half of the island.
If departing from St. Kitts, flights are available to Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, the island's only international airport. Just like St. Maarten, it is a short drive to anywhere on the island.