14 May 2011

Sita Armstrong Dives Tower 17

I missed Sita's call last night and did not want to call too early this morning, so I went diving. Wind was calm and seas were flat. I dropped in about 10 feet of water and swam 100 degrees. I surfaced at the reef to discover that the current had set me considerably to the North. I swam back on my mark and descended. This time I was more careful about the current and I swam out to the Fish Camp Rocks. The school of Rainbow and Midnight Parrotfish was there and I got some pictures. I also found a nurse shark, but got a picture without scaring her off. I swam over to the Furry Rock and got some pictures of Sergeant Majors. Squeezing the aperature to f/25 blacks out much of the background and produces a portrait-like image. Swam to the Big Coral Knoll and found a Hawksbill under the Eastern edge. As I left the Knoll, I spotted a Purple mouth Moray Eel under a coral head.

Sita had called while I was on the first dive, so I returned the call and met her at the Bridge. I got her some gear and we went back to the beach. I wanted to make essentially the same dive as the first dive, but I was off to the South. Spotted the Furry Rock, so we started there. Went to the Fish Camp Rocks and found the Nurse Shark just where I'd left her. Also found a Speckled Hermit Crab in a small shell. Went to the Big Coral Knoll, but the Hawksbill had moved on. Found a nudibranch: a purple-spotted Sea goddess, I think. Also found a Giant Tunicate. Lot of surge in the water, but a fun dive.

13 May 2011

Three More Dives Unsuccessfully Looking for the Ledge of Turtles

The day started badly. I left my keys behind when I walked out of the house and locked the door. Fortunately, the kitchen windows are jalousie windows. I rescued my keys and was headed to the Pelican Grand in under 15 minutes. Its the awful feeling I get when I realize I have done something stupid. Then I think, well, of course, I'm off to look for the Ledge of Turtles, again. Its the theme for the day. I am also shooting macro, so I am looking for Jawfish with eggs and other smaller creatures, such as the Amphipods that live in perfectly round holes in the sand.

I descend before the swim buoys and head out at 90 degrees. There is a moderate current to the North and I am aware that I am being set, but it is difficult to quantify because of the limited visibility. I find the Shark Rocks and the little Fish Camp Rocks. I find the Staghorn Coral forest. I do not find the Ledge of Turtles. I do encounter a large Red Grouper who stares me down.

The second dive is essentially the same as the first, except that I do not find the Shark Rocks. I do not find the Ledge of Turtles, either, but I do find and get video of a Hawksbill turtle and then a smaller Green turtle. Unfortunately, Blogger is reluctant to let me upload videos.

In order to elude the Lifeguards, I walk to the Northern most shower and then North along the fence on the beach so that I am no longer on the "public" beach when I swim out for my third dive. I swim South and find the Shark Rocks and spend some time swimming with a Smooth Trunkfish, trying to get a face shot. Long day, but it ends so much better than it started.

12 May 2011

Diving with Billy Yates

I got to the beach at 8:00 am, geared up and got in the water. I went out on the sand, but surfaced over the reef to discover that the current had set me considerably to the North. I swam back on the bearing and descended again. This time, I compensated for the current, but found a turtle and swam off-bearing to get some video of the turtle swimming. Notwithstanding this detour, I ended up at the Fish Camp Rocks and got some video of a nurse shark. I then swam over to the Furry Rock, then over to the Big Coral Knoll. Found some eels, I felt pretty confident I could find my way again.

Billy Yates and his German friend, Robin, were carrying their gear down the beach as I was coming out of the water. I stalled a bit until my parking stub ran out and I could post more time. Then we all geared up and swam out on the surface. Robin was not a fan. We descended just short of the reef. I tried to keep on a 90 degree course, but we somehow got the the Eastern edge of the reef without seeing either the Fish Camp Rocks or the Furry Rock. I headed South along the ledge and turned West when Robin was down below 1500 psi. We saw some Cowfish and Smooth Trunkfish, but I did not get any spectacular shots. We saw no nurse shark and no turtles. I was disappointed, but Billy and Robin both claimed to have enjoyed themselves, but they were not interested in a second dive.

11 May 2011

I Found the Shark Rocks Twice

The wind was a little stiffer this morning than it has been and there was a bit of a surf. I entered through the main entry area. I swam out into 12-14 feet of water and descended before getting to the swim buoys. I continued onto the reef at 90 degrees. I was looking for another Sailfin Blenny like I found yesterday. While I captured pictures of the Blenny going in and out of its hole, I was not successful in getting a photo of his sailfin unfurled. I found a Purplemouth Moray Eel in an overturned coral head and got some good pictures.

I swam towards the Eastern edge of the reef, but ran into some Fish Camp like rocks that lead me to the Shark Rocks. I headed SW from there and expected to find the Ledge of Turtles, but no such luck. West to the beach, but way South of my entry point.

Like the first dive, I descended well before the swim buoys and headed East at 100 degrees. I had to hurry because the Lifeguards usually get to the beach by 9:45 am, and they have some rule about not solo diving. I found the same purplemouth moray eel in the overturned coral head and several fish at two larger rocks. I expected to find the Shark Rocks again, but did not. Instead, I went all the way to the Eastern edge of the reef. I did not see the Ledge of Turtles, the Shark Rocks or even the Staghorn Coral Forest. I headed South along the ledge for a ways, then turned back to the beach. I ran into the Shark Rocks. I must have just past them to the North coming out. I headed SW, but did not find the Ledge of Turtles. Still, it was a nice dive.

10 May 2011

Still Looking for the Ledge of Turtles

I was late getting to the beach again, but its calm and quiet. I descend well before the swim buoy and swim out at 90 degrees, looking for the Ledge of Turtles and taking shots of blennies and gobys and a small sharptailed eel. I swim until I come to the Eastern edge of the reef and then come back and to the South. I find the Shark Rocks, which are like the Fish Camp Rocks, but much bigger. No sharks, however. No Ledge of Turtles.

I hurried to change tanks and get back in the water before the Lifeguards showed up. I descended earlier than I usually would on the theory that if they arrived and I was underwater, they would not know I was diving solo. I found a few Amphipods in the sand, but did not get any good pictures. They seemed very wary. I made my way up the reef and actually found a small green turtle to swim with, but no Ledge of Turtles. I have no idea where it is.

09 May 2011

Looking for the Ledge of Turtles

I forgot my weights, again. I did not notice until the very end of the dive, when I felt a little light. Otherwise, I seemed well balanced the entire dive. Maybe I should skip them all the time.

Headed East from the main entry. Got to the reef near a buoy and line on the bottom. Looking for the Ledge of Turtles. I found the Staghorn Coral Forest and I found some rocks like the Fish Camp Rocks, with the plates of small coral. I did not find the Ledge. Did find a Sharptail Eel and a small green turtle, but no ledge. Also found a small nurse shark that swam in front of me for a short while.

Second dive was much like the first, except this time I brought my two weight packets with 2 pounds each. I felt heavy for much of the beginning of the dive.

I dropped to the sand in 10 feet of water and worked my way East looking for Amphipods. Never got any good shots, though. Got up on the rise, but did not find the Ledge. Lots of dead staghorn coral. Not a lot to photograph, and I discovered that the lens has slipped into a mode that allows it to focus only to .48 meters instead of the .31 meters that is its minimum focal length.

08 May 2011

Solo Sunday

What a gloriously calm morning. Sun shining. Seas quiet. The visibility was not bad, though it could have been better.

I switched back to the 100 mm macro and the flat port. I decided against adding a diopter, which really limits me to shooting super macro.

There was a slight current and I must have over compensated, swimming just South of the Fish Camp Rocks. I noticed a school of midnight blue parrotfish and followed them North to the Rocks. Got some shots of the parrotfish, then headed for the Big Coral Knoll. Got some nice video of a Green Sea Turtle as well as some still shots, though the video is apparently too big to load on picasaweb or blogger. On the way back to the beach, I spotted a small Rough Box Crab. Odd creature.

Pleasant dive in okay visibility and calm seas. I would have liked to make several dives, but Dianne committed us to an 11:00 am lunch.