High-Resolution 3D Multibeam Survey of the Caicos Platform Margin November 2017

8th January 2018 10:22 am


A prestigious team of Geo-scientists from the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas has been studying the shape, geometry, and variability of the Caicos platform. Of particular interest is the shelf margin that has been modified by sea-level changes which have occurred over the past 400,000 years. During glacial maximums (times of global sea level lows), it is believed that significant wave cut notches developed along the shelf margin at depths of -80 and -125 meters below current day sea level. These notches may be linked to the collapse of large reef blocks that can be observed at recreational dive sites along the leeward margin of the Caicos platform (e.g., Coral Stairway west of Amanyara).


In November 2017 they collaborated with us at Big Blue to conduct a multibeam survey from the north-west point of Provo along the western edge of the banks down to West Caicos and then along the southern edge of the banks to French Cay and onto West Sand Spit. An amazing amount of high resolution data was collected over this 70 mile stretch.


The objectives of the study included:

  1. Creation a high-resolution 3D bathymetry of the steep-walled rim along an approximately 70 km long survey from North West point to West-End Spit;
  2. Integrate the shelf margin with the platform that was mapped by the previously acquired airborne Topo-bathymetric survey by the University of Texas at Austin;
  3. Enable detailed characterization of the upper 400 m of the slope and steep-walled reef margin within the survey area;
  4. Improve the understanding of the dynamic between shelf margin geometry and sea-level changes.


The Equipment

Multibeam echosounder surveys utilize the same technology as commercial fish finders, but the instruments used by the research team, the Reson model T-50 multibeam echosounder and Edgetech Sidescan sonar, sent a wider signal to enable surveying a swath of the seafloor in 3D down to 400 meters. Our dive vessel Live and Direct was rigged with the echosounder on a fixed arm that transmitted and received data while traveling 4-7 knots along the edge of the shelf boundary. It took 6-days to cover the distance and collect the data. We were blessed with some favourable weather and the data collected was exceptional.     


The Results

Post-processing of the date was conducted at the University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Drs. Chris Zahm and John Goff. The dataset was combined in a 3D triangulated surface to enable detailed mapping characterization of the shape and geometry of the shelf margin. Here are some of the initial bathymetric maps of West Caicos, Sandbore Channel and the North-West Point areas. There are dynamic ranges of topography on West Caicos (0 to 18 m above sea level), and bathymetry on the shelf (0 to -25 m below sea level), the wall (-25 to -150 m) and slope (-150 m to -350 m). What is very interesting to note is how deep the vertical walls go.  These maps show that the vertical walls descends to almost 400ft/120m which supports data on the extent of the sea-level fall during glaciation. The preliminary map of West Caicos is obtained from the raw data of an individual sounding from the multibeam and includes horizontal contours placed at 120ft/36m. It shows us that as recreational divers we are really only seeing the very top of the wall. Subsequent maps combine data from different runs to provide a more accurate image and we’re grateful for a better understanding of our famous walls. Does this get you excited for your next dive in the Turks and Caicos?

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Turks and Caicos Weather in December

19th December 2017 9:08 am

Turks and Caicos weather in December offers some of the best conditions you will ever have in the Caribbean. December is well into the “dry” season, and it is the time when the Turks and Caicos truly claims its top spot of being one of the world’s best paradises.

Turks and Caicos Weather in December

While localized weather patterns can’t be predicted long term with accuracy, the Turks and Caicos temperatures in December tends to average between 24°C and 28°C (or 82°F and 75°F respectively).

November 30 is the official end of the hurricane season (that officially began June 1) so December has historically been a hurricane-free month. In fact, it’s unlikely that there will be much rainfall during December.

Turks and Caicos in December

The Turks and Caicos is a year round destination, but December is peak travelling time. This means the Turks and Caicos will be at its busiest with tourism prices being at their highest. However, this also means the tourism sector will be in full swing, and you expect every touring operation to do everything they can to exceed your expectations.


Mosquitos will be less of a nuisance in December than in most months. While the Turks and Caicos are in the natural habitable range of mosquitos, they only become a nuisance when there is flooding, which is unlikely in December.

Also, trade winds tend to pick up during December, which can greatly reduce a mosquito’s ability to fly. Tourist areas like Providenciales will practically be mosquito free.


Turks and Caicos in December is great if you love hanging out in or on the water. The ocean is frequently described to be at a comfortable, “bathtub warm” temperature with mostly calm conditions.

The ocean water is at a very comfortable 82°F, or 28°C.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The waters around Turks and Caicos are warm year round and can be exceptionally calm on the shallow beaches at this time. Even if the ocean gets a bit choppy from the higher winds, the natural reefs form a shelter that protects the beaches from high surf. This makes stand up paddleboarding a great activity for families, kids, or people who want a more relaxed activity.

Some special tours using paddleboards include eco-tours you can take to see delicate ecosystems supporting nesting birds. Or, you can skim over clear waters near reefs and see vibrantly colored marine life right beneath your board.


Kayaking is great to explore beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and around the cays. It’s a quiet and non-intrusive way to get close up pictures of wildlife like iguanas and birds.

Like paddleboarding, you can embark on kayak eco-tours that let you explore the Turks and Caicos’ natural beauty.

Snorkeling and Diving

Snorkeling and diving are great activities to do when you’re in the Turks and Caicos during December. The waters are mostly calm and visibility should be crystal clear.

In fact, there are snorkeling tours that will take you out to several snorkel sites. Knowledgeable guides can help you identify the hundreds of different fish and describe the important coral reef ecology.

If you’re more comfortable with deep waters, diving is an excellent December activity. You can descend and scale walls that are dozens of feet to over 100 feet that are overflowing with life.

However, you should consider booking your snorkeling and diving trips early, as there are limited spots.



Christmas is a quiet time, and many locals spend the day with their families.

Maskanoo Parade

Winter celebrations kick off with the Maskanoo parade on December 26 in the Bight Settlement, close to Grace Bay.

Maskanoo is based on the rituals of the Africans brought to the Turks and Caicos islands two hundred years ago to work on salt plantations throughout our islands. Today, the post-Christmas Maskanoo masquerade is a reminder of the country’s rich history, unique culture and friendly, lively locals.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve starts off with an island tradition called Old Year’s Night. Residents of Turks and Caicos attend church services until late on New Year’s Eve. After church service ends, bells ring out into the night to bring good luck into the New Year.

Expect to see a fireworks show on Grace Bay Beach to help bring in the new year.

Book Early for Your Turks and Caicos December Vacation

December is one of Turks and Caicos’ busiest months in terms of tourism. It’s important that you book early—not only for your hotel and flights, but also for any activities you want to do.

Contact Big Blue Unlimited to learn more about what eco-friend activities you can do while you’re in Providenciales or go ahead and book your adventures today.

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Overcoming Nature’s Release

11th October 2017 10:33 am

During the second week of September the power of Hurricane Irma was felt far and wide across the northern Caribbean and Turks and Caicos Islands. The eye passed mere miles south of Provo and the winds lashed hard against homes, businesses and the islands. We were very grateful not to experience the anticipated 15ft sea surge, and with the exception of a handful of boats and dock systems, it was the wind that did the damage over the land.

A solid preparation plan secured the Big Blue vessels to underground concrete blocks and the water sports gear was stored safely indoors. These all weathered the storm admirably. The elevated Big Blue base, one of only four of the original iconic Leeward buildings still in existence, took a beating and the wooden front section and balcony were ripped away. It is testament to the builders that the majority of the original roof and walls stayed intact and the stone foundations held fast. Despite what seemed like a large amount of debris and rain damage our beloved adventure base will live to fight another day.

While we bare witness to the devastating power of a hurricane and sympathize enormously with those who lost of lot more and remain temporarily homeless, we have taken the opportunity for a spring clean and an office revamp. The onset of another large hurricane named Maria hastened our clean-up operation and the staff rallied around to prepare. With great relief she passed by Provo with barely a scratch so under blazing sun and through days of windless and relenting heat most of the hard work was painfully completed. The kayaks and paddleboards returned to their racks by the waterfront and the resumption of power fired up the dive compressor. The boats, new fleet and old favourites, made their way back to the Big Blue dock ready for action. Our office has been relocated to the former dive maintenance room and the effervescent Sherline is standing by to answer calls and reply to messages.  We are grateful that the cooler weather of autumn is just around the corner.

The beaches survived and the mangrove wetlands have stood up to nature’s ultimate test. The sand, churned up by the wind and waves, continues to settle and the vivid colours we all love so much are becoming evident once again. Even the wind is blowing out of the east as it should. The whole island is rallying around and while there is still much to be done we are all keen to return to our respective passions. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the magical playground of the Turks and Caicos.

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TCI Wetland Program Continues

22nd March 2017 1:11 pm

The joint expedition to assess the wetland areas of the Turks and Caicos continued through the week with visits to North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Grand Turk. Mark Parrish of Big Blue caught up with the team to help lead a trip to the vital wetland areas between South Caicos and East Caicos. Initial findings and observations were then presented to an open meeting of stakeholders and interested parties at the National Environmental Centre. Aspects of the proposal that will be submitted to the Darwin Initiative later in the year were discussed including the designation of particular wetlands as new RAMSAR sites, the ‘wise use’ of these areas, and available international cooperation for RAMSAR sites. Ralph Higgs of the TCI Tourist Board invited Wesley Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DECR) to a joint meeting with the TCI National Trust to assess cross department cooperation and use of resources. Dr. David Stroud suggested that the TCI might be the first country in the world to have a network of managed RAMSAR sites and explained how RAMSAR protection can be applied to mangroves, coral reefs, sea-grass beds and Karst or underground wetlands. This is set to be an ongoing project of significant importance to the environmental health of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Big Blue Short Film

22nd July 2012 12:51 pm

The Big Blue Expo 2012 was the perfect start to our year. Our event was held at the OPUS bar and grill. The Expo showcasing our team and products and our BIG BLUE SHORT FILM, it was well attended by our friends and partners through the islands and across the tourist sector. Prizes for contributions towards ECOTOURISM were awarded to our unsuspecting partners from the sister islands of North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Parrot Cay. Susan Butterfield, Lawrence “Big Mac” Campbell, Cardinal Arthur, Danny Forbes & Sara Kaufmann (middle co-op), JD Thomson and Parrot Cay resort and spa. Many of you who have been with us know our team up north and their awards were well earned through their hard work and dedication.

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Kayaking with Documentary Film Maker, Ian Cross

22nd March 2010 12:39 pm

Another great day in the mangroves south of Bellefield Landing, North Caicos. The protected RAMSAR wetlands site continues to offer world class kayaking and birdlife. Ian Cross, legendary Australian wildlife documentary filmmaker & owner of Pilot Productions joins Big Blue together with his son for an afternoon of exploration. The lower tides brought hundreds of fish out from their hiding places including small barracudas (10-20cm in length) and an assortment of Mojarras. The reddish egret we had seen the week before continued to resolutely guard her nest and we were careful not to disturb her. The highlight was probably the flock of Sandpipers that scouted the way for us all the way up the mangroves, showing off their beautiful wings and making plenty of noise. To top off the day we even saw a small group of elusive Wimbrals and a spectacular yellow crowned night heron.

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Big Blue Hosts 2013 Kalama Kamp Turks & Caicos

22nd March 2013 11:08 am

After the resounding success of the last 3 years, Big Blue’s season was again kick started by hosting our annual 2013 Turks and Caicos Kalama Kamp. Dave Kalama and John Denney teamed up with Philip, Jason and Wes as eight stand up paddlers converged on the Turks and Caicos Islands to learn the finer points of stand up paddle boarding while getting to a little bit more about the waterman’s lifestyle.

Dena, Mark, Mike, Curt, Larry, James, Joe and Colin woke up early every morning to take part in Dave’s daily beach work out. The all action dawn wake up call highlights the core concepts of why and how Dave stays in shape for not only his big wave surfing but also his grueling long distance paddles.
A hearty breakfast was followed by a trip to Big Blue to strip down the essentials processes that make up a solid and effective paddle stroke. With video, demos and on water critique, Dave, John and Philip help rebuild everyone’s stroke from a solid foundation.

With this in place the Kalama Kampers were treated to amazing down winders, mangrove excursions and reef safaris. When the waves did kick up….well you can guess what happened. Excitement and mayhem. Dave’s outstanding teaching ability and wave riding demos helped one and all catch either their first waves of make the next one better.

Another classic week, where we laughed, played, paddled, learned and surfed a little. Bring on 2014. See you there.

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New Kayak Routes – Turks and Caicos

18th March 2012 1:54 pm

Mark spent a long weekend over in South Caicos exploring new kayaking heaven. Miles and miles of channels and mangroves deep into the heart of East Caicos. Watch this space for more information. Very exciting indeed!

These routes have now been opened out and we offer tours throughout the Turks and Caicos for all levels of Kayaker, from beginner to advanced – come and see what makes our kayak adventures on TCI different. 

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Multiple Whale sightings on Turks and Caicos

11th February 2017 1:51 pm

What a season! February is not even finished and nearly the whole Big Blue team has had multiple whale sightings and encounters! Our Stand Up paddle board guide, Ray was able to get his first in water encounter as well. Needless to say he is jumping for joy. Get down here and give us a call!

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Whale watching by boat in February

16th January 2012 1:24 pm

Mark and Philip took their good friend Andy on a birthday boat ride today to show him some whales. Well February has not disappointed and nor have the whales. Within minutes of leaving the dock we found our whale. True to form, we had to work hard to keep our eyes on him in the swell. We lost him for 30 minutes and picked him up on the way to Parrot Cay. Both Andy and Mark managed to get a full frontal underwater view as he passed by. Not once but 4 times! How many people do you know get to see a for the first time whale on their birthday and then board a flight 90 minutes later? Only at Big Blue……..
We can’t wait for March. See you down here.

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