06 March 2013

Solo Diving on the Big Coral Knoll

     The last time I was in the water was the 24th of February 2013.  We went out on a small, private boat and dove in 100 ft of water, then made a drift dive from a point somewhat East of the First Reefline to the Western edge of the Second Reefline.  The water temperature was 71 degrees, but the air temperature was 77 degrees.  The dives were short and although I got chilled, I quickly warmed up once back on the surface.

    Since then, the air temperature has dropped into the 40's and I have not tested the water temperature until this morning, when it was 67 degrees.  As you can see, however, the ocean was flat and calm and I just couldn't stay home any longer, even though the Windjammer webcam said the
air temperature was about 57 degrees.  The little girl guard was on today, so I got in the water well before 9:30 am and swam out to the reef before I descended.  The workers who are shoring up A1A and the beach have moved the Lifeguard Tower, so it is harder to find the concrete bocks and I missed them this morning.  I did find the castle sponge, however and made my way to the Gray Mid-way rock, where I turned North for the Knoll.  

     Visibility over the sand was poor, maybe 8 ft.  On the reef it opened up to at least 15 ft with some absolutely gorgeous moments when the sun was out and the water calm and you could see for 40-50 ft.  Went by the Bubble Rocks to the Perpendicular Rocks.  Lots of fish, but bigger fish.  Adults.  

     From the Perpendicular Rocks, I swam to the Swept Rock and then to the Big Coral Knoll.   Just past the Swept Rock, I found three Blue 
Tangs getting cleaned by a small Spanish Hogfish.  They were nervous, but I got an okay picture of two of the Tangs and the little Hogfish.
Made several trips around the Knoll looking for featherdusters and fireworms.

     I was warm and calm until around 40 minutes, then I started to shiver.  Got that under control, but I could tell that I was using more air than before.  Started counting my breaths in and out, which seemed to allow me to take control again.  

      Got some pictures of featherdusters and some really nice pictures of Christmas Tree Worms.   Spent some time working with the strobe.  First, I worked on lighting the subject, directing the flash to the subject, behind the subject or to the side.  Next, I tried changing the strength of the flash.   Problem is that it takes time to do this and most fish won't tolerate the delay.  The worms don't seem to mind, though some of them, too, disappeared before I could get completely set up for the shot.

On the way back to the beach, I found a small octopus on some coral and out in the open.   I tried to get this little fella to play, but he was not having any of it.  He inched his way around the coral, then down and underneath it. 

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