25 February 2012

Marc Langenohl's 3rd and 4th Open Water dives

Marc and I swam on the surface to the Eastern edge of the reef to perform the three ascents.  He was having a lot of trouble equalizing to get down to 33 ft, so I decided did the CESA first.  He did just fine.  He also successfully made the alternate air source ascent and the buddy breathing ascent.
Having finished the ascents, we headed back to the reef to meet up with Luis and swim back to the beach.  Along the way, we spotted the lobster trap I saw a few weeks ago.  
 Near the reef, I got a good shot of a Smooth Trunkfish.
 Luis spotted us before I spotted him.  He charged over and signalled that we should follow him.  He lead us to a school of Atlantic Spadefish.
 They are really quite graceful, swimming in unison.
 I also spotted and shot a Blue Spotted Coronetfish.  I was too far away.
I got a great shot of Marc as he swam between me and the sun.  
 On the beach, we met up with Leonardo, Guillermo and Victor, who had come to do a navigation dive.  Everyone got a compass and we went through a short lecture on how to use the compass, then we hit the water.  I set up shop at the swim buoy and had a flag for each of the buddy pairs.
 We first measured kickcycles.  I have Leo the end of  a 100 ft reel and he swam out, counting his kickcycles.  Everyone else followed, doing the same. He was supposed to drop the line and swim back, also counting those kickcycles, but next time I saw him he was well West of me and the swim buoy.  He was still holding the line.
 Surprisingly, the line was not tangled and so I got it back on the reel quickly and we moved on to the out 'n back skill.  I set the compass bezel to a particular bearing and had each buddy pair swim out on that bearing 20 kickcycles, then swim back.  They did not always come back to the swim buoy.
 We did it a couple of times so that everyone got a chance to navigate and found their way back to where they had started.
 They we swam a square pattern.  The first attempt was terrible, but we kept at it and they finally got it.
On the way back to the beach I spotted this Sand Diver nearly buried in the sand, but patiently waiting for prey.

24 February 2012

Solo Diving the Big Coral Knoll

 I used Ruhula's tank from last night's pool session.  It still had 2500 psi.  Got to the beach early and was in quickly.  Descended over the sand, just past the sand bar.  Found the Sea Robbin from yesterday and got some good pictures.
Got some good shots of a Seaweed Blenny.
 Although I was heading East for the Fish Camp Rocks, I ended up at the Perpendicular Rocks so I swam over to the Big Coral Knoll where I shot this Blue Tang
I also got a good shot of what I have thought was a Bluestriped Grunt, but which I am now not so certain about.  The Bluestriped Grunt is supposed to have blue stripes and this little fellow has silver and yellow stripes, but otherwise looks a lot like a Bluestriped Grunt.
I spotted a couple of reef squid and tried to get some good shots, but it was hard.  The Strobe leaves backscatter unless I get really close and the squid were not going to allow that to happen. 
 Got a good photo of a true Bluestriped Grunt.
Also found a Hawksbill turtle and got some nice shots of it flying down the knoll.  Then I headed West to the beach.
On the second dive, I was able to make the Fish Camp Rocks.  Along the way, I got a shot of an Arrow Crab.
Got a couple of shots of some Smooth Flower Coral.
 Also found what I later identified as a Warty Corallimorph.  It is an anemone, but its tentacles are stubby little things.
At the Furry Rock, I found a Bluestriped Grunt getting his mouth cleaned by a small Spanish Hogfish.  I only got one shot of that, although I tried several.  The strobe kept setting up backscatter.
 Got a nice shot of a Yellow Fanworm, but I only got one shot.
Also got some pictures of a Sharptail Eel and a Spotted Scorpionfish.
  Headed back to the beach a little low on air and found a couple of Green turtles and a Guitarfish.   Got some quick shots while breathing fumes.

22 February 2012

Dianne and I Explore Tower 18

 Dianne and I decided to dive somewhere we had not been in a while, so we moved up the beach to Tower 18.  The sea was calm and wind was slight.  We got in and swam out to the East, but descended past the swim buoy but before the reef.  We saw a small Green Turtle on the sand and I got some pictures.
We found a few large rocks and I got a nice shot of a Queen Angelfish.
I also got a shot of a Scrawled Filefish over some Staghorn Coral, though the picture itself is not remarkable.  
 I wanted to get a close up of this Stoplight Parrotfish who apparently thought he was hidden in the coral while he watched us.
 On the way back to the beach, we found a Sea Robbin and I got a decent portrait shot.
 Our second dive was better, though we had more current to deal with.  I found a small Hogfish early in the dive.
 I also got a close up of this Seaweed Blenny.
Dianne spotted this puffer fish looking guy I have not identified.  I can't find anything like him in the Reef Fish books.  
She also brought me a shell, indicating that there was a hermit crab inside.  I set it on the reef and waited, then got this shot of a Stareye Hermit Crab.  
 On the way back to the beach, I spotted a Florida Regal Sea Goddess and got this shot.
The last picture I took was of this Intermediate Gray Angelfish as we left the reef and swam over the sand back to the beach.

20 February 2012

Diving with Luis and Dianne

 Dianne came over and we met Luis on the beach for two dives.  The sea was fairly calm, but we elected to descend well before the swim buoy and go out across the sand, looking for Sea Robbins and Guitarfish.
 Both Luis and I are photographers.  Poor Dianne had to amuse herself as we tried to set up just the right shot.
I found a Goldspot Goby, though it took a bit of digging to identify it once I got home.   Its is supposed to have a goldspot above its pectoral fin, but Reef Fish says the spot is "not obvious in some individuals."    What is obvious is the black bar across the head and down each eye.
I also found a Sailfin Blenny, though I just could not wait long enough to get a shot of him unfurled.  Although we had headed East from the concrete blocks, we ended up at the Perpendicular rocks and not the Fish Camp Rocks, so we swam over to the Big Coral Knoll.  
 On the North side of the Knoll, we found a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, which was quite calm and seemed to enjoy our company.  We swam with it for a ways and I tried to get a picture of Dianne and the Turtle.  Unfortunately, I never got the shot.
I did get a fair number of pictures of the turtle, including this one of the turtle gliding down the South Slope of the Knoll.
And  this shot of the turtle swimming with two Initial Phase Redband Parrotfish.  I entered this photo in the  Underwater Photography.com photo contest and it picked up 11 votes in 4 days.  After I got this shot, we headed back to the beach.
On our second dive, we actually swam to the Fish Camp Rocks.  We found a Nurse Shark and a Spotted Burrfish, though I did not get any good shots of either.  I did shot this juvenile Schoolmaster, but he was wary of me and I had to crop it down quite a bit to get the picture I wish I could have gotten.
Came back West to the beach and found a small Nurse Shark just lying on the reef.  He seemed calm enough, though he was very exposed.      
Got some pictures of some Jacks crusing the reef.
and a Sand Diver lying in wait.
I got this shot of a Yellow Jack.  It turned out surprisingly well for a spur of the moment shot.

Found a Stoplight Parrotfish with a Sharksuckeer well affixed.