Rusty Goby delivers an order of fish tacos to scuba divers on Blacktip Island’s Jawfish Reef Thursday. The small Caribbean island’s divers now have the option of mid-dive dining thanks to restauranteurs selling small meals delivered via diver propelled vehicles. (photo courtesy of Wreckdiver08)
A group of Blacktip Island restaurant professionals banded together this week to bring the popular food cart concept to hungry scuba divers underwater on Blacktip Island’s reefs.
“Food carts are all the rage, and we figured why not make the logical jump to have carts catering to scuba divers while they dive?” Blacktip Haven chef Jessie Catahoula said. “Each of us has our own themed specialty, and in place of vans, we use underwater scooters to deliver pre-cooked meals.
“Obviously, we can’t cook underwater, but we’re using Zip-Loc baggies to keep the pre-cooked meals dry,” Catahoula said. “The plan is to eventually put meals in sealed, squeezable bags with straws, like the astronauts use. We’re already using commercially-produced boxed juices.”
Local retailers have seized on the idea.
“Divers have to pay by tapping their credit card on the payment gizmo, so we came up with waterproof gizmo housings,” scuba retailer Bamboo You owner Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “Problem was, people kept having their cards float off mid dive without realizing it. That’s when we introduced the underwater credit card holder that straps on your wrist. Now divers can charge underwater to their heart’s content and not have to worry about losing their cards.”
Divers raved about the variety of offerings.
“Jessie’s rogan josh was great,” Sally Port said. “So was Cori’s callaloo. Sure, it’s all gooshy and puréed so it squirts out of the bags better, but it has all the flavor of regular food. It makes the perfect mid-dive snack. The only negative experience I’ve had was the Yorkshire pudding was way too lumpy.”
Environmentalists, however, worry about the meals’ effect on the reefs.
“What happens to all those empty pouches after divers finish their meals?” marine science professor Goby Graysby said. “This’ll create more underwater pollution and kill coral. Also, what’s to stop people from feeding fish? Liquified tacos al pastor can’t be good for grouper. We spent so long getting people to stop feeding fish canned cheese, now this.”
Others worry about diver safety concerns.
“What if a diver has their reg out to eat and swallows at the wrong time?” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Or when someone aspirates their lasagna at 80 feet? We actively discourage divers from buying from the carts, but we can’t stop them. Or the vendors. Someone’s gonna get hurt, though. Or worse. Just this morning we had to rescue a guy who got his reg clogged with lo mien.”
Catahoula said the problems would work themselves out.
“We have faith the divers can walk and chew gum at the same time, figuratively,” she said. “They have to take personal responsibility and figure it out for themselves—we’re not gonna be down there spoon feeding them. This is the cutting edge of a new frontier in dining.”