11 June 2011

Diving the Fish Camp Rocks with Luis and Dianne

Dianne, Luis and I entered in front of the Tower and swam to the reef on our mark. The wind was less than yesterday and from the West. Seas were calm. We descended and headed out at 90 degrees. I was looking for but did not see the precursor rocks. We swam right to the Furry Rock, however, got some photos and then swam to the Fish Camp Rocks. We Hung around there for a while shooting pictures and exploring, then swam to the Big Coral Knoll. I found a large Green Sea Turtle, but could not get close enough to get a picture. Somewhere on the Knoll, my camera battery died. We headed North from the Knoll and went about 400 psi then turned around to come back. I spotted some rocks that I thought might be South and West of the Knoll, but I was not sure enough of the identification to turn. We continued South and ran into some more rocks. These I recognized and we turned West there. I found a Brittle Star on a Sea Rod, then accidently pulled the Sea Rod out. Shortly after than, I spotted a purple mouth moral eel under a rock and Dianne spotted an Atlantic Guitar fish. I watched it swim away, but without a battery, the camera was of little use. It was a long dive: 115 mintues. Five minutes short of two hours.

10 June 2011

Exploring from the Ledge of Turtles

I got to the beach early. The wind was up: maybe 10-15 knots from the East. Seas were 5-6 ft, but manageable. I swam out to the reef, but I could not find the railing. The visibility over the sand was about 2 ft. I surfaced and lined up the pole in the opening, but I still could not find the railing when I descended, so I just headed out at 300 degrees. I went through 250 psi and found the mid-way rocks. Visibility opened up to maybe 10 ft. I continued to the Ledge and found two small Green Turtles swimming over it and a Hawksbill Turtle sleeping underneath an outcropping. I got some shots of the small Green Turtle and a few of the Hawksbill, though only the really close shots were any good. More than 1 ft away, there is too much backscatter. I got some shots of Squirrelfish and Yellowtail Damselfish, then headed off to Shark's Rock. Visibility never got better than 10-15 feet. I was spot on hitting the Rock. Got some pictures, then went back to the Ledge and found the two small Green Turtles. Got some additional pictures then headed down the reef to the railing, to which I swam directly. From there, to the beach and out.

The second dive was much the same, except that I found the railing, so I got a good start and hit the mid-way rocks then the Ledge. Again, the Green Turtles were on the ledge, but there was no sign of the Hawksbill. I went directly to Shark's Rock, but I almost swam past it. I just happened to notice fish milling about to my left so I swam over and sure enough, there was the Rock. I went to the East Rocks, too, then just headed South. I came upon the concrete block coral racks and I found the scientific station, but I did not locate the medieval coral racks. I swam over the the staghorn coral and spent some time cruising through the forest, then swam NW to the sand and to the beach to end the dive.

09 June 2011

Exploring the Staghorn Coral Forest

The wind is from the East at about 10 knots. The surf is about 3 ft, but there are a few 5 ft breakers, too. I enter in front of Tower 19 and head out at 100 degrees. Along the way I encounter a small Green Sea Turtle, who does not see me coming. He races away before I can even raise my camera. I get to the staghorn coral and find a small Brittle Sea Star, then the camera goes dark. I play with it, but cannot figure out what is wrong. I notice that I cannot change the aperature.

I swim on looking for the mountainous coral next to the medieval coral racks. I move North a bit and find some coral racks built of concrete blocks and the sampling station I'd seen earlier, but I have no idea where I am other than North and East of the staghorn coral. I continue playing with the camer and discover that the switch on the strobe battery is on "Full" rather than TTL. I switch it back and apparently fix the problem. What a relief. I continue to the Eastern edge of the reef and then swim North along the ledge, where I find a Scamp who is interested in me and lets me get some good shots and a Blue Hamlet who is also accommodating. Then I turn West to the beach at a large rock and come upon the medieval racks withon 50 yards of the ledge. I don't initially see the mountainous corals, then I do. I surface to see where I am. I think 100 degrees out from the Tower. When I descend, though, I cannot find the mountainous coral or the medieval racks.

My second dive begins the same as the first, except the wind has died down a bit and the surf has diminished some. I swim out to the staghorn coral and to the ledge. On the way back, I once again find the medieval racks and the moutainous coral. This time, I surface to check and find it is 240 degrees looking back at the Tower, which is lined up 1/3rd of the way in the house across the street. I look for the scietific station and the concrete block racks, but I do not find those. I also look for a rock or some other easily recognized feature in the staghorn coral, but find nothing. Visibility is bad, only 5-10 feet.

08 June 2011

Finding the Ledge of Turtles and the Medieval Coral Racks

I decided to go to the Ledge of Turtles, so I swam to the reef, found the railing and set out at 120 degrees, but I missed the mid-way rocks and the Ledge of Turtles. The visibility was terrible on the sand: less than 5 ft. It wasn't a lot better on the reef: maybe 15 ft. I stopped when I had burned through 500 psi. I should have made it to the Ledge in 300 psi. I came West a bit, but did not see anything, so I went a bit farther North and came back East. This time, I came up on the backside of the Ledge and found a Hawksbill Sea Turtle sleeping in the Ledge. Got a few pictures, but left the Turtles where I found her and swam around to the front looking for fish to photograph. Found a Squirrelfish. Came back, but the Hawksbill was gone. I headed West to the beach, but over-compensated for the current and ended up almost to Tower 18.

I entered the water at the shower just South of Tower 20 and headed out due East. I saw smatterings of staghorn coral, but not the forest. I swam to the Eastern edge of the reef, then went South a short distance on the sand before turning West. Shortly after I turned, I spotted the medieval coral racks and mountainous small star corals. I kept going West and ran into the forest. Looked for cowries, but did not see any.

07 June 2011

Diving the Staghorn Coral Forest

For the first dive, I entered the water in front of the lifeguard tower, swam to the reef and descended. I headed out at 90 degrees, looking for the large rocks I saw before or the large rocks where I photographed the octopus last January. I found neither. I went to the Eastern edge of the reef and came back South, then headed back to the beach. I did see a Pederson Shrimp while swimming South on the ledge and an Indigo Hamlet on the way to the edge, but otherwise did not see much.

The second dive was a little better. Again, I entered in front of the Tower, but this time I swam into the staghorn coral and zig-zagged East to West through the coral as I headed South, generally. I shot got lots of pictures. Saw a French Grunt biting other fish to protect his turf, which was a bit unusual. I got some interesting shots of an Arrow Crab and some yellow zoanthid. I also found an Atlantic Deer Cowrie, but was so intrigued by the animal that I forgot to photograph the really lovely shell it produced and the photos I did shoot are ugly shots of the animal with little definition. I really blew a rare opportunity.

06 June 2011

Used the Zuma Pro again and am really getting to like it. I headed due East from the shower just North of Tower 19. On the sand I found a few of the Amphipod holes and got some shots. I saw a little Green Turtle just as I got to the reef and swam after him to get a few pictures, but the pictures were not well exposed. I need to work on setting the strobe on the fly, as it were.

I continued to the East, but the current set me a bit. I found some Shark's Rock like rocks, which were off Tower 20 when I surfaced to look. I don't remember them as the Octopus Rock, but it could have been. It was on the Northern edge of the Staghorn Coral Forest. I continued on to the ledge and then went South looking for the medieval coral supports and rocks from yesterday. I found nothing, but I did come back through a part of the staghorn coral.

I got my tank changed and swallowed the rest of my coffee, so I could get to the flag before it disappeared for ever. While the surface interval was 23 mintues, it included my swim out to the middle of the reef where the reel caught on a sea rod. Anyway, I descended and headed to the Eastern edge of the reef. I was not able to find the large rock I found on my first dive, but I did find a Blue Cornetfish and I found an with its head sticking up above the sand as I swam to the beach. Too bad I could not see enough of the eel to identify it.

05 June 2011

Diving the Ledge of Turtles with Dianne, Trisha and Nic

Dianne and I picked up Nic and Trisha at 7:30 am and we headed for the beach. Our first dive was the Leddge of Turtles. We swam out to the reef and found the railing, then swam slowly on a 120 degree bearing until we came to the Ledge of Turtles. There was a large Green Turtle and a small Green Turtle on the Ledge. I went to the small one and got some pictrures, but both turtles swam off the Ledge. We looked around, then swam due East to the Shark's Rock. We explored the Rock and the surrounding rocks, then came back to the Ledge to find the small turtle swimming. I swam towards her and she turned and swam towards me. We swam together a bit and I got some nice video. Then we went back to the railing at 300 degrees, except that I swam over to the Crow's Nest and then to the railing. Nice dive.

The second dive started as did the first, swimming to the railing and then to the Ledge of Turtles. There were no turtles there when we got there, however, and we went more or less SE from there to the Eastern edge of the reef. We went South along the Ledge, then West and ran into the Fish Camp-like rocks and the medieval coral supports. They looked to be 300 degrees from Tower 20. We played around in the staghorn coral forest, then went North and ended up in front of Tower 20.