09 March 2013

Supermacro on the Big Coral Knoll

     The air temperature was warmer this morning that yesterday, but the water was colder.  It was only 1 degree colder at 66 degrees, but it really made a big difference.  I could not stop shivering this morning.  Yesterday, I could control it and my breathing.

       I put a +10 diopter on the 100 mm macro lens.  Since the workmen have been installing the supports for the beach, many of  the  
 non-territorial animals have left our beach.  While I enjoy the Porkfish and various grunts, I would really like to see some octopus or some sea Robins or some Guitarfish. 

The surf was a little taller than I expected, but not a often.  We made it out just fine.  The bottom is dug up, however. Holes and ridges.  Difficult to walk.
 Found a Seaweed Blenny who posed for me and let me get close enough to make use of the supermacro configuration. 
 He even came out of his burrow and posed for me. 
 I think this is either a Rosy Blenny or a Saddle Blenny, but I can't decide.  She posed for me, too.  Very calm and allowed me to fuss with my camera and the focus. 
This little Dusky Jawfish was busy cleaning his burrow and carrying the pebbles and other trash out in his mouth. 

     It was very difficult walking back onto the beach.  The holes were deep and the sand was soft.  I got stuck a couple of times and almost fell over once. 

08 March 2013

Drifting North of the Knoll on the First Reefline

I headed for the beach early, despite surface temperatures in the low 50's.  I wanted to get a good parking spot and avoid the congested traffic on A1A.  Although the air temperature was 55 degrees at 8:30 am, the water temperature was 67 degrees and the air temperature was predicted to climb into the 70's by noon.  I took my time setting up, but got in the water by 9:30 am and descended over what used to be the Nursery. 

Taking the tank into the water actually increased the pressure in the tank by about 60 degrees.  Nice.  Well, nice for the first 30-40 minutes, then I had to focus on controlling my shivering.  Not so nice. 

The North current was fairly strong and certainly stronger than I had anticipated.  I got set North of the Knoll.  I spent the whole dive North of the Knoll.

Spotted several Purplemouth Moray Eels, including one who was hunting along the reef and  completely exposed.  I started taking pictures and the eel came towards me.  I wasn't certain what his intentions were and lifted up and back.  He stopped, still out in the open, so I dropped down for some more shots and he headed towards me again as soon as the strobe flashed.  This happened once more, then he ducked under a coral head.

Got a nice shot of a Christmas Tree Worm.  I was shooting with the professional 100 mm macro lens without any diopters, but the photo turned out really well, in my opinion anyway.  Maybe the work with the strobe is paying off and this picture is well lighted.   I found several feather dusters, as well, but was not able to get any good photos of them.  They are too timid and I take too long to set up.
As I left the reef and headed back to the beach, I ran into a Sheepshead Porgy.  These, too, are frequently quite timid, but this one let me set up for two shots before he swam away. 

As I passed over the Nursery and headed up the sand to the beach, I found a small school of yellow tailed fish I did not recognize.  I took  several pictures and went through the Humann/Deloach books, but could not identify them. 

07 March 2013

This Cold Snap is Ridiculous

I got up at 4:00 am and checked the temperature:  49 degrees.  Okay.  I went back to bed until 5:30 am and then checked again:  47 degrees.  Where is Global Warming when you need it?

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.