19 February 2011

Night Dive off Tower 17

Mia Cillers emailed me last week about earning her Advanced Open Water certification this weekend. I explained the course and warned her that the weather would really impact our ability to complete the course in only two days, but otherwise encouraged her to come diving. She called this morning while I was diving with Luis and I called her back and arranged to meet this afternoon, get gear and make at least one night dive. It was cold enough that one dive was all we wanted to do.

The wind had died during the late afternoon and we entered calm seas just in front of the lifeguard tower. We swam more or less East, but did not encounter either the rock-with-a-head or the Fish Camp Rocks. We did stumble upon the Little Coral Knoll. The highlight was finding a large Hawksbill Sea Turtle wedged between a couple of large rocks. She was perfectly content to have me shoot the flash. She was safe between the rocks.

We continued on to the Eastern Edge of the reef and went to the sand at 34 feet. I keep hoping to find another Snake Eel poking up through the sand, but not tonight. We did find some larger shrimp on the sand as we made our way back to the beach.

These photos were taken with a 10 MP Intova point and shoot with an automatic flash. I did not take the Canon 5d out this evening since it was the first time I've been diving with Mia in a while.

Finding Fish Camp Rocks

Luis and I met at Tower 17 this morning. There was virtually no wind and the ocean was flat. Luis brought a 6 mm wetsuit and needed additional weight, but he expected to be warm. We entered the water in front of the Tower and descended at the reef, though it was difficult to see the reef. Visibility was terrible on the sand and for the first 30 yards or so onto the reef. Even then, it only opened up to 15 ft or so.

Once on the reef, we headed East. Luis fought the wetsuit and the flag. I was looking for the rock-with-a-head and found the Fish Camp Rocks. Luis had me take his trim weights out so he could put them on this legs in an effort to hold his legs down. We had to surface to communicate, and by the time we were finished and descended, we could not find the Rocks. We swam around and eventually got to them, but it was amazing to me how quickly we lost them and how truly lost they were in the low visibility.

While looking for the Fish Camp Rocks the second time, we found the rock with the long coral shoots. It was slightly East and South of the Fish Camp Rocks.

18 February 2011

The East Wind Is Not Your Friend

The beach was busy this afternoon. We had to park North of the 14th Court traffic light, which is also a little North of our mark for the Big Coral Knoll. The winds was probably 5-10 knots from the East and the surf was 2-3 feet. We entered the water and set out at 90 degrees. The visibility was only a few feet on the sand and not much more on the reef. We stopped at several rocks and I got a good shot of some juvenile Sweepers. We missed the knoll, however, and swam to the Eastern Edge of the reef. I watched a Guitar fish swoop down the ledge and head out onto the sand, but I could not follow him in the low visibility.

We spent an hour and a quarter warming up after our first dive before we got back in the water for a second one. We went a little further South along the beach, this time, hoping, again, to swim to the Big Coral Knoll. The wind had died down some and the surf was less, but visibility was about as bad as before and we swam to the Eastern edge of the reef before turning around. We did find a Blue Hamlet at the edge of the reef and I got some nice photos.

16 February 2011

We entered in front of Tower 17 and swam out on the 100 degree bearing. Before we got to the reef, I noticed jellies in the water and descended to take some pictures. We both took pictures, then continued swimming on the surface to the reef, where we descended and swam out at 90 degrees, due East. We found some rocks and I headed NNE and found the Big Coral Knoll. Luis was busy taking pictures at the rocks. After drifting across the knoll, I spotted a Green Sea Turtle and started shoot a video. Luis spotted her about the same time, and the turtle was concerned about both of us coming after her, but we backed off and she stuck around. We then headed South, looking for the fish camp rocks, but never found them. I was down to 1000 psi when we headed West to the beach.

15 February 2011

Looking for Fish Camp Rocks

As we did Friday afternoon, we entered in front of Tower 17 and swam to the reef before descending. We headed East at 100 degrees, but did not find the fish camp rocks. We swam through a field of moon jellies and got to the Eastern edge of the reef. My camera battery died before we got to the edge. On the way back to the beach, we found a nurse shark, which Luis photographed without disturbing her. After we got to the sand, we found numerous jellies and sea nettles on the bottom, still alive, but unable to get buoyant.