29 January 2011

Looking for Cushion Sea Stars off Tower 17

I complained to Matt that the Blue Heron Bridge had lots of Cushion Sea Stars and there were none off our beaches. He suggested that we swim past the reef at the Tower Park, so Luis and I decided to try it. Our plans were derailed when we found a big coral knoll and a Hawksbill Turtle. I shot three videos swimming with this old gal, then I spotted a young Green Sea Turtle and swam over to shot a video of that turtle. By the time we had finished with the turtles, I was on fumes. Still, we dropped off the ledge and swam East but never did see any cusion stars. On the way back, I tried breathing off Luis' regulator while he used his air source, but the exercise was not well executed and we lasted only a short time before surfacing.

28 January 2011

Diving the Blue Heron Bridge

We got the the Bridge at 1:00 pm, parked and looked around. We decided to get in right away since there did not appear to be much current. We entered the water shortly after 2:00 pm and well before slack tide at 3:34 pm. My computer did not turn on for the first few minutes because were were less than 4 feet deep. We saw lots of

Cushion Stars, a Batfish and numerous reef fish, but we also saw an Eagle Ray and some Barracuda. As we were ending the dive, I got some video of a Manatee. Not bad for a max depth of 14 feet and an average depth of maybe 8 feet.

Diving the Little Coral Knoll at Sunrise

Luis and I met at Sunrise and A1A early this morning and went for one dive. We entered the water between Towers 14 and 15 and swam 100 degrees to find the Little Coral Knoll, then spent the better part of 30 minutes taking pictures. We did not find anything big: just a shy eel, some Giant Anemone and lots of reef fish. Swam North for 15 minutes looking for a turtle then swam back South, but must have swam right past the Knoll. We swam in to the beach and headed to the shop to fill tanks so we could dive the Blue Heron Bridge this afternoon.

27 January 2011

Back to the Pelican to look for the Ledge of Turtles

I met Luis at the beach a little after 8:00 am and we dove off Tower 20. We found the staghorn coral forest. We found the Shark Rocks. We found a smaller set of rocks to the SW. We did not see

the Ledge of Turtles. We did not see any turtles. We did find a couple of eels, but that was it. Cold surface temperature. Cold water termperature. Hazy visibility. We quit after the first dive.

26 January 2011

Exploring the Beach off Tower 16

Dianne and I drove to the beach to meet Luis, who was waiting patiently for us. We parked mid-way between Towers 16 and 17, and entered the water there. We swam essentially due East and found some rocks and staghorn coral patches on the way to the Eastern edge of the reef. Along the way we saw the usual array of life, but also several Freckled Seahare, a Blunt spined Brittle Star and some Varigated Sea Urchin. We dropped to the sand at the end of the reef and it was 35 ft deep. On the way back, we found a huge Florida Horse Conch devouring a Conch, shell and all. It was a long dive and I was a little chilly at the end, but dried off and warmed up quickly so that Luis and I could do a second dive.

On our second dive, we entered the water a bit more to the North, but not quite to Tower 17. We swam out due East and found the same huge Florida Horse Conch again. When we dropped to the sand, we swam even more to the North and came up on the backside of a Big Coral Knoll. It was difficult to get a good idea of the size and shape of this knoll, but it was raised and it had lots of coral.

25 January 2011

On my own again

The air temperature was mid-70's and pleasant in the occasional sunshine. The wind was 10 to 15 knots from the SE. The surf was rough, the waves throwing water high on the beach and creating very strong rip currents and it rushed back to the ocean. These currents also washed sand from the beach and into the sea.

I went in between Towers 14 and 15, hoping to find the Coral Knoll. I missed it going out. I could see almost nothing. I got to the sand and 26 ft of water on the Eastern Edge of the Reef and turned around. On the way back, I found the overturned coral head that sits on the North side of the Coral Knoll. I recognized it even in the poor visibility and swam around the coral knoll looking for crabs and eels. There was a lot of sand in the water and while I took a few pictures, none of them turned out very well. Still, it was nice to find the coral knoll.