28 May 2011

Diving the Fish Camp Rocks Saturday Morning

The beach was calm and quiet. Dianne and I entered in front of the Tower and swam to the reef on the 100 degree bearing. We then headed out at 90 degrees, but ran into a Hawksbill Turtle and swam with her for a few minutes. When we were through, we headed East, but nothing looked familiar and I had long since lost any sense of direction I had. I spotted some of the precursor rocks and we swam on in to the Fish Camp Rocks. No schools of midnight blue parrotfish, though. Dianne did find and point out a Bearded Fireworm. We swam to the Furry Rock, then across to the Big Coral Knoll. Dianne found some Anemones and I got some good pictures. We came back early because I had promised to meet Cole Evans at 9:00 am. We just made it.

Cole has his own regulator but I borrowed a BCD and 65 ft3 tank from Underseas Sports. Cole could carry the smaller tank on his back Cole, Dianne and I got back in and essentially repeated the first dive, except we did not see any turtles. I got lost, had no faith in my bearing and went North. I ran into the mid-way rock and disc, nowever, and we then swam right to the Fish Camp Rocks. No turtles. No sharks. No schools of parrotfish. Still, the water was relatively clear and there were lots of grunts. Cole touched everything. He even managed to hold a small yellow sand ray. I got a picture.

Cole made a second dive with us, using an 80 ft3 tank. He and I carried/drug it to the water and he put it on there. We were going to the ledge, so I was not worried about maintaining a bearing. Good thing. We passed over the Big Coral Knoll both on the way out and on the way back. We found lionfish. LIONFISH! Lionfish on the Big Coral Knoll. Got to get a spear. We also saw turtles. A small Green Turtle swooped down in front of me as I was skimming along the knoll. I got a couple of good pictures. We also saw a Barracuda on the sand on the way back to the beach.

27 May 2011

Three Dives off Tower 18

Luis and I met at the beach at 8:00 am and entered the water just North of Tower 18. We swam out East but found nothing interesting until we hit the Eastern edge. I don't think I took ten shots during the whole dive. The bottom was flat with sea rods and plumes. No turtles. No eels. Pretty dull.

Luis went to fill tanks during the surface interval. I stayed at the beach. When he got back, we geared up entered the water a little further North than on the first dive. We swam to the reef to descend, then headed East and ran into the Staghorn Coral Forest. There were a lot of fish there, but they were the usual reef fish. We continued on to the Eastern edge of the reef and dived South along the ledge. On the way back I was getting low on air and we found a Hawksbill Sea Turtle and swam with her for a while. I got some good photographs and some nice video. Near the beach, we spotted a Green Sea Turtle, but she was not interested in being photographed.

For our third dive, we entered in front of where we had parked and swam on the surface to the swim buoy line. Luis lost his lens cap almost immediately upon entry. He saw an eel and too quickly got the camera out to get the shot. We headed more or less East and were South of the staghorn coral forest, but we did not get as far as the Eastern edge of the reef. I did get a photo of something that I have yet to identify. At first, I thought it was a blenny, but it is not.

26 May 2011

Thursday Afternoon Diving Tower 19 with Luis

Luis and I met at the Shop to fill tanks, then drove to the beach to make an evening dive off Tower 19. My log book says that I found the Octopus off Tower 19 in January. I cannot seem to find the rocks, or really any rocks. Pretty flat out there except for the staghorn coral forest.

Luis and I dove a bit south of Tower 19 and managed to miss the Staghorn Coral Forest. We did find both a Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtle. I also got one shot of a very shy Blue Hamlet. I found an Orange Spotted Filefish who was not quite as shy, though certainly no model.

Two Solo Dives to the Fish Camp Rocks

Since I would be taking a student there on Saturday, I thought it might be a good idea to dive the Fish Camp Rocks. I set up as usual and held my 90 degree bearing. I found precursor rocks and then the Fish Camp Rocks. When no one is around, it works out so well. I swam over to the Furry Rock to get some pictures, then to the Big Coral Knoll, where I got a photo of a Chub in spotted mode and several who were not. I also found and photographed a Flamefish, a Speckled Hermit Crab and a couple of Green Sea Turtles while at the Coral Knoll. On the way back to the beach, I found a Cushion Sea Star partially buried in the sand. I took a picture, but it did not come out very well.

On the second dive, I wanted to go to the Fish Camp Rocks, then out to the Ledge and look for my mark. I got lost, though, following and photographing a Green Sea Turtle and had trouble finding the Fish Camp Rocks. I never did make it out to the Ledge. I found the Rocks only because of the schooling Midnight Blue Parrotfish.

25 May 2011

Three Dives in the Staghorn Coral Forest

Luis was a little late getting to the beach so we started our dive at 8:00 am. We swam out due East from the Tower and into the Staghorn Coral Forest. I was looking for the medieval stands and rocks I saw yesterday, but could not find them. I did see a Green Moray Eel, a Blue Hamlet and a couple of Red Reef Hermit Crabs. Not much else, though. We went to the Eastern edge of the reef and back. I had planned to make a second dive before the lifeguard came on duty, but as Luis and I were talking on the beach, I watched the lifeguard and a supervisor arrive at the Tower. Luis had to go to work and I decided not to try to race into the water. I can't afford to anger anyone, I'm at the beach all the time.

Luis called early this afternoon. He was finished for the day and wanted to go diving. We met at the beach, parking right behind Tower 19. I discovered that I had forgotten to put in a CF card, but I had the 2 GB card in the jar, so I loaded that card. Luis and I went in just in front of the Tower and headed due East. Just before we ran into the Staghorn Coral Forest, I saw a guitar fish, but did not get any pictures. It was too fast. We swam over to the Eastern edge, and I came up to see two Grunts mouth to mouth, but I did not get a picture. By the time I got the camera up and focused, they were done. I did find both a Green and a Hawksbill turtle and got some video and pictures, both. On the way back to the beach, we found a Southern Atlantic Stingray.

Luis and I got back in the water quickly. I was a little concerned that it was getting late and the sun would soon set. We swam out on the sand hoping to find the stingray again, but did not. We swam through the staghorn coral and to the Eastern edge. On the way back, Luis spotted a small Nurse Shark.

24 May 2011

Diving the Staghorn Coral Forest

The wind was out of the East and 5 - 10 knots. There was a little surf, but not much. The visibility over the sand was bad, but opened up to about 15-20 feet on the reef. We entered just South of Tower 19 and swam out due East. We found a Staghorn Coral Forest, at one end of which was some sort of scientific equipment. We then swam to the Eastern edge of the reef and went South along the ledge. As we turned West, I found and got some shots of a Blue Hamlet, who had been quite shy initially, but them seemed to enjoy posing for me and then Luis, when he came. We had gone far enough South that we missed the Staghorn Coral Forest as we came back. I found and shot video of a Green Sea Turtle swimming. We got out of the water around 9:30 am.
Luis and I were changing gear and talking, when I watched the Lifeguard and a supervisor pull up to Tower 19. I quickly donned my gear and got in the water. I descended in 10 ft of water and swam over to the staghorn coral forest. I went into the coral, then to the Southern and Northern edges. On the Southern edge I found some odd medieval looking structures near several larger rocks. I swam around the coral trying to get some sense of how big it is and its general shape, but its difficult in such poor visibililty.

23 May 2011

Diving Tower 19

I parked well South of Tower 19 and entered the water just North of Tower 18. I let the current drift me to the North and swam out to the Eastern edge of the reef. I found a little Green Sea Turtle next to a coral head. The turtle had only its head under the coral. I startled her when the strobe went off and she quickly swam away. A few moments later, I found a Hawksbill Sea Turtle who was also sleeping in the open. I swam with her for a bit and got some nice video. I went through a large Staghorn Coral Forest and found a few big rocks, but nothing like I remember from January. I also found 3 metal bars embedded in the reef and about 1 ft apart. I have no idea what they were supposed to be. I found a lovely Blue Hamlet on the Eastern Edge of the reef, but I only got one shot. The Hamlet just disappeared after the first photo. On the way back to the beach, I seriously overcompensated for the current and ended up almost at Tower 17.

I moved up the beach to the North to begin my second dive. The current had diminished some. I just caught an edge of the staghorn coral forest and ran into a Smooth Trunkfish who was more amenable to being photographed. I swam to the Eastern edge again. On the way back I found an Indigo Hamlet and this fish stuck around for an entire photo shoot. Nice. No rocks, however.

22 May 2011

Looking for the Octopus Rocks

I had planned to go to the Pelican Grand and make 3 dives today, but there were no parking places. I ended up parking next to Tower 19 and its a long walk to get in the water after the Lifeguards start, so I decided to make only 2 dives. On the first dive, I swam on the surface out to the swim buoy line and descended. I wasn't quite to the reef, but close. I swam out due East to the Eastern edge of the reef. I did not find the Octopus rocks I had visited on 9 January 2011. I didn't find any significant placement of rocks. I did swim North along the ledge and found a lovely Blue Hamlet to photograph. It was a pleasant dive, just not what I had hoped to find.

On my second dive, I decided to swim to the reef, then go NE at about 45 degrees. The bottom was relatively flat and uninteresting until I came to the Ledge of Turtles. Yeah, the one I could not find on the second dive yesterday. I hardly recognized the place. It was a ledge and there were two Green turtles on it when I approached. It took a few moments before I started remembering and then I immediately identified the two coral heads on the mound of dead staghorn coral. I came back more or less due South, but found no other rocks. The Octopus Rocks must be South of Tower 19.