Diving on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas, USA
Diving into the structure of an oil platform is certainly one of the most amazing experiences I have known in my diver life. I dive regularly on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas.
I have experienced dizziness during my first dive on a platform which was located on the edge of the underwater national park Flower Garden. Arriving on the structure I looked at the legs that plunged at more than 300 meters deep (900 feet). Visibility was over 100 meters (300 feet). I was at 20 meters deep (60 feet). It was as I was as caught in the abyss. I never would forget this feeling of unease I felt.
It is not possible to dive on all platforms. The diving boat needs to have a permit which is not always granted. In addition, each dive must be prepared carefully. Indeed, the dive boat must be correctly positioned relative to wind and current. It is essential to avoid hitting the super structure made with steel. Once all lines attached, this the long-awaited moment of descent. It's always an intense moment because it is a unique and wonderful universe.
Indeed, the platforms are places where meet huge schools of jacks, white tip sharks and turtles. But that is not all. The structures are colonized by huge sponges and large coral colonies that allow coral fish to grow. I photographed scrawled filefish, barracuda, blennies, gobies, angel fish, etc. A platform is a great place for marine life and it is a refuge for many species.
The marine life is growing from the surface to great depths. For a photographer, it's a paradise. Remaining in the top 10 meters of depth, it is possible to stay 90 minutes tirelessly. All types of photography are possible from scenery to the close-up shots.
The most impressive when diving on a platform is certainly the metallic sounds that resonate. The super structure seems to live. The sounds are generated by oil extraction but also by the movement of the platform.
An oil rig is certainly synonymous with danger and risk of pollution for many divers. For me, it is primarily a submarine Eden which gathers marine species that find refuge in normally inhospitable places.