Uneven visibility: The winter storms that pounded the Midwest and Northeast have impacted Florida's west coast. The numerous cold fronts and accompanying surface swells have made underwater visibility unpredictable. Off St. Petersburg and Sarasota, visibility has been poor. Off Venice and Port Charlotte, it has been fair with divers finding snapper and flounder. The only good visibility in Pinellas has been in the bay with divers finding snapper and hogfish.
Changing fast: Water clarity at this time of year can go from nothing to top to bottom in a day. Unfortunately for divers, most find out it is clear too late. Your best bet is to develop a close relationship with a local dive shop that can provide accurate and timely information. Don't be hesitant to call and ask about visibility, fish, water temperature and seas. If you get friendly, current and precise information, then you know you are getting that extra valued service from the place where you spend your dollars.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.