30 March 2014

Leo, Luis and I try to dive the Little Coral Knoll

On Wednesday morning, 4 days ago, I took the dog out for his walk to discover that it was 56 degrees out.  I went back to bed and didn't think much of diving until this morning.  Besides the cold, we had strong winds and rough surf.  I was looking forward to getting back in the water this morning.

Leo emailed me before he drove up from Miami and wanted to know if the diving would be any good. One thing I have learned around here is that you can't predict how the diving will be until you get in the water. Nonetheless, I checked the Windjammer webcam and reassured him that the ocean was flat and wind was calm. So we went diving. We met Luis at Tower 15 about 8:30 am, geared up and got in the water.  We swam out well past the swim buoys before we descended, then went looking for the Little Coral Knoll, which we had dived often about 3 or maybe 4 years ago.

As we got to the reef, I got a picture of a Juvenile Green Razorfish and

I spotted a Sea Robin on the sand.

A little later, I spotted a juvenile nurse shark with little blue spots.  He was pushing his nose under a small rock trying to hide.

He was pretty young and really had no idea what was happening or how he should react.  He was perfectly still while the three of us examined him.  Both Leo and I were taking pictures.

He was just a little thing, maybe 20 inches long.  He was certainly the highlight of the first dive.

We didn't find the Little Coral Knoll on this first dive.  Instead, we kept going East to the Eastern edge of the reef. We didn't find the Little Knoll on the way back either, but we must have passed close to it. I think we were all cold.  I couldn't make 2 hours, I was shivering too hard. Sucked a lot of air quickly, too.  We spent a little over an hour on the beach trying to warm up, but the surface temperature wasn't much warmer than the water temperature and there was a breeze which chilled us.

We got back in the water for a second dive before I got warm. It just didn't seem like we could get warm on the surface. We swam out and descended just past the swim buoys and began looking for the big rock we had seen on the way in on the first dive.  We didn't find it.  Luis, however, found the Little Coral Knoll, which was just South of where Leo and I were taking photographs.  I would have gone right by it. Not unlike what probably happened on the first dive. We hung out on the Knoll for quite a while taking pictures and just looking.  Saw a lot of the reef fish we see on the Big Coral Knoll and other sites, but it was fun to explore.

Got this picture of a Juvenile Queen Angelfish,

This Knobby Sea Roc,

and this Rough File Clam.  

I also spotted this Harlequin Bass,

this Juvenile Creole Wrasse and

This Barred Hamlet, which are less frequently seen.
We left the Little Knoll and headed East like the first dive, but both Luis and Leo were cold and Luis was soon down to 1000 psi, so we turned around and headed for the beach. Just as well. I was expecting to do very poorly on my air, because I still had not warmed up from the first dive when we got in for this second dive, but I was wrong.  I did really well on air.  I ended the dive with a little over 700 psi and at 106 minutes. That meant I was getting a little over 4 minutes for every 100 psi and should have pulled another 20 minutes out of the tank for a dive time a little longer than 2 hours.  

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