09 June 2011

Exploring the Staghorn Coral Forest

The wind is from the East at about 10 knots. The surf is about 3 ft, but there are a few 5 ft breakers, too. I enter in front of Tower 19 and head out at 100 degrees. Along the way I encounter a small Green Sea Turtle, who does not see me coming. He races away before I can even raise my camera. I get to the staghorn coral and find a small Brittle Sea Star, then the camera goes dark. I play with it, but cannot figure out what is wrong. I notice that I cannot change the aperature.

I swim on looking for the mountainous coral next to the medieval coral racks. I move North a bit and find some coral racks built of concrete blocks and the sampling station I'd seen earlier, but I have no idea where I am other than North and East of the staghorn coral. I continue playing with the camer and discover that the switch on the strobe battery is on "Full" rather than TTL. I switch it back and apparently fix the problem. What a relief. I continue to the Eastern edge of the reef and then swim North along the ledge, where I find a Scamp who is interested in me and lets me get some good shots and a Blue Hamlet who is also accommodating. Then I turn West to the beach at a large rock and come upon the medieval racks withon 50 yards of the ledge. I don't initially see the mountainous corals, then I do. I surface to see where I am. I think 100 degrees out from the Tower. When I descend, though, I cannot find the mountainous coral or the medieval racks.

My second dive begins the same as the first, except the wind has died down a bit and the surf has diminished some. I swim out to the staghorn coral and to the ledge. On the way back, I once again find the medieval racks and the moutainous coral. This time, I surface to check and find it is 240 degrees looking back at the Tower, which is lined up 1/3rd of the way in the house across the street. I look for the scietific station and the concrete block racks, but I do not find those. I also look for a rock or some other easily recognized feature in the staghorn coral, but find nothing. Visibility is bad, only 5-10 feet.

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