21 May 2011

Diving the Ledge of Turtles with Luis

I got to the beach first and Luis arrived about 15 minutes later. We geared up and got in. I swam out to the mark and showed it to Luis, then swam at 110 degrees to the Ledge of Turtles. There was a little Green Sea Turtle over the Ledge when we arrived. A second Green was tucked under the Ledge. LuisI found a Spotted Moray Eel in the Ledge. I had used a lot of air fighting the current on the way out, and used more chasing turtles. After we explored the Ledge, I did not have enough air to get out to the Shark Rocks and back, so we just killed time in the immediate area of the Ledge.

Our second dive was supposed to be just like the first. I wanted to get to the Ledge, then swim out to the Shark Rocks. But I missed the Ledge. Visibility had diminished, but we were off course. We missed the mid-way rocks. Anyway, we swam out to the Eastern Edge of the Reef and came upon the Shark Rocks on the way back. From there I navigated to the Ledge of Turtles. We spotted a Florida Regal Sea Goddess and a Striped Burrfish on the way back to the beach.

20 May 2011

Mapping the Ledge of Turtles

I got in the water shortly after 7:00 am, swam on the surface to the reef and descended. I wanted to make my first dive before meeting Luis this morning. I found the railling buried in the sand and covered with algae. From the railing, I swam at 120 degrees to adjust for a moderate current set and swam right to the Ledge of Turtles. On the Ledge, I found a small Green Sea Turtle, a Stoplight Parrotfish, a couple of Yellowtail Damselfish and various grunts, highhats and reef fish. I spent most of the dive at the Ledge, but did venture to the South a bit looking for more turtles.

Luis started the second dive with me, but just before we got to the Ledge of Turtles, an O-ring blew on his alternate airsource and he had to return to the beach. I saw him safely to the surface, then returned to the dive. I found the Ledge of Turtles and explored to the East and North some, looking for the Shark Rocks.

Since I was entering the water after 10:00 am, when the lifeguards are on duty, I could not go through the main entry. Instead, I hiked up to the fence, walked to the beach but hugged the fence as I walked North to the hotel beach to enter the water. I don't know if its because they have no jurisdiction over that beach or if they just do not see me, but I have found that the lifeguards leave me alone if I do not enter the water right in front of them. Once past the surf, I fin up and swim out. I descend on the reef, but swim South to the railing. From there, I head to the Ledge at 100 degrees. Actually, I swim at 120 degrees to compensate for the current set. Along the way, I find a small nurse shark just lying in the open. I swim right to the Ledge. Because I am fighting the current, however, I have used a good deal of air. I try to relax and drift over the reef.

When I got out and as I was packing up my gear to go home, the fellow who had parked directly behind me came by and chided me for diving without a buddy. At first I ignored him, but he was insistent. Wasn't I unsafe without a buddy? What if a shark attacked me? He obviously was not a diver and had no idea what he was talking about, but it sure didn't stop him from sharing his opinions with me. He was one arm-chair expert who has rejected the notion that the man on the ground is in a better position to analyze the risks and choose his own course of action than some expert or legislator. Pity.

19 May 2011

Finding the Ledge of Turtles

I entered through the main entry and swam to the reef keeping the power pole in the middle of the entry. Once on the reef, I was over what appears to be a railing from a small power boat half buried in the sand. From that mark, I swam out at 90 degrees. I found a hermit crab and got video of him coming out of the shell and righting it. I swam into and through a old staghorn coral forest. I turned South and found the Ledge of Turtles. There was a Hawksbill on site and I got some video. I also found a spotted moray eel bedded in the coral. Also found a Rock Hind and lots of other reef fish. Surfaced and got a bearing of 100 degrees to the main entry. Swam that bearing back to the beach.

My surface interval was short: just long enough to change tanks and then get back in quickly before the lifeguards showed up for work. Swam out to the reef and descended. Followed the same 100 degree bearing and found the Ledge of Turtles, but there were no turtles in evidence. I swam South a considerable distance and then back to the Ledge. Then I swam North even farther and returned to the Ledge and swam back at 280 degrees. First time I have been to the Ledge of Turtles and not seen a turtle. At least I found the place, though.

18 May 2011

Luis Returns and We Dive Off Tower 17

Luis has been on vacation in Hawaii, but did not get to dive. Our first dive is to the Fish Camp Rocks. We swim out from the Lifeguard Tower and descend over the reef. We then swim at 90 degrees but encounter a Hawksbill Sea Turtle almost immediately and swim with her considerably South, then North and East. I long since gave up holding a bearing. We spotted a second Hawksbill and followed her, as well. We are with her for a while. Of course my camera is not working. The battery is apparently dead, even though it worked just fine when I took the test shot at the truck. We stop following the second turtle and try to figure out where we are. I decide we can go to the Ledge then go North to find our mark, but it is unnecessary. I see fish schooling and swim to investigate. I find one of the precursor Fish Camp Rocks and we swim on in. The big Nurse Shark is not there today, but a much smaller shark is under one of the earlier rocks. I also find a fire worm and a speckled hermit crab. Then we head for the Big Coral Knoll and run into a little Green Sea Turtle who allows us to get very close. Its a great dive. Wish I had gotten pictures.

Luis left to fill out a job application. I replaced the battery in my camera. Dianne and I then made a second dive. We went to the Fish Camp Rocks then over to the Big Coral Knoll and North a ways looking for turtles. We did not find any. I did find a Goldentail Moray Eel on the Knoll and a juvenile yellowtail damselfish, but not much that was unusual.

17 May 2011

Back to the Fish Camp Rocks

Running even later this morning than yesterday. I geared up, swam out and descended in about 10 feet of water. Headed to the Fish Camp Rocks in a moderate current. I got disoriented and missed my marks. Spotted the Furry Rock. Swam to the Fish Camp Rocks and spotted the Nurse Shark where she was yesterday. Also found a Speckled Hermit Crab. Headed over to the Big Coral Knoll and found what I think is a Yellowheaded Jawfish. First one I have seen.

Switched tanks and got back in the water. Lifeguards will be here soon. I descend in 10 feet of water and try to hold 100 degrees out to the reef, but end up overcompensating. Get back on mark and swim out at 90 degrees to find the Fish Camp Rocks. I swim right to them. The Nurse Shark is still there and I find another hermit crab. This time, I get some good video of the crab crawling out and righting his shell.

16 May 2011

Solo Off Tower 17

I was running late, so I dropped to the sand in about 10 feet of water and swam out on the 100 degree bearing, except that when I surfaced at the reef I was well North of where I wanted to be. Need to keep doing this until I can adjust for current. I changed to 90 degrees at the reef and swam out slowly. I ran into what appears to be an older Hawksbill Turtle. The back of the carapace is torn as if something bit it or maybe a propellor struck it. This turtle also had 3 barnacles on its carapce. I found the precursor rocks and the Fish Camp Rocks. Lots of Midnight Blue Parrotfish and I found a large Nurse Shark under one of the Eastern rocks. Swam over the the Furry Rock and found a second Hawksbill on the way back. Headed back to the beach.

Second dive was just like the first except that I missed the Fish Camp Rocks. I spotted the furry Rock and found them that way. The Nurse Shark was back were I first saw her. I went to the Big Coral Knoll. Found a purplemouth Moray Eel when I was leaving. Also got some good shots of a Yellowtail Damselfish that flirted with the camera.

15 May 2011

Dianne and I Dive South of the Pelican Grand

Although we awakened quite early, neither Dianne nor I were eager to get to the beach this morning. It was cloudy out and had rained quite hard last night. The air temperature was a little colder than usual. We got to the beach around 9:00 am and had some trouble finding a place to park. We parked South of the Pelican Grand, really closer to Tower 19 than Tower 20. The water was warm and surprisingly calm, despite some breaking surf near the sand bar. We went East to the ledge starting mid-way between Towers 19 and 20. The visibility was not bad once we got on the reef. We saw two different Green Sea Turtles and I got video of each of them. We did not see much else, however. This was new and relatively uninteresting territory. We quit after only one dive.