24 January 2014

A Solo Dive to the Staghorn Coral Forest off Tower 18 which ended up on the Ledge of Turtles off Tower 20

I got to the beach a bit before 9:00 am.  I took my time getting in, but descended just past the swim buoy by 9:33 am.  I had decided to head for the Staghorn Coral Forest, but I never got there.  

I spotted this Queen Angelfish as I descended on the reef in from of Tower 19.  I planned to drift South and run into a large area where NOVA University had grown staghorn coral some years earlier. It had been abandoned for some time, but there had been large growths of coral there as recently as last Summer.

 Headed East along the reef and spotted this Juvenile Gray Angelfish.
 Came to some other patches of staghorn coral with the usual assortment of French and White Grunts.
 Saw a squid and got some pictures, but not much life off Tower 19.
 I thought I was drifting South, but I lost focus when I spotted this squid and started following it always hoping for a better shot.
 The squid eventually eluded me and I found this little Bicolor Damselfish who seemed to pose for a picture.
  Followed this Hawksbill Turtle for maybe 10 minutes and he inadvertently lead me to the Ledge of Turtles, though I did not immediately recognize it when I got there.  I usually approach it from the North or, if I'd gotten lost, from the East.  This time, I came in from the South and things just looked different.

This little Spanish Grunt is a regular at the Ledge of Turtles.

I spotted and photographed a hogfish, and watched while I was shooting as it completely changed colors.

Short dive and cold.  I came up with over 500 psi of air, but I was too cold to continue.

22 January 2014

Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll

     I left the apartment at 8:30 am and got to the beach around 8:45 am.  Parked at Tower 17.  Geared up and got in around 9:00 am, but spent 15 minutes wading out, putting fins on, swimming to deeper water, fixing the flag reel and clearing my mask.  I swam out due East, but must have overcompensated and gone North. I came up well North of the Blocks, but swam over and found them.  Then up the gunsight to the Gray Mid-way Rock and then North to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and the Knoll.

 Spotted this Juvenile French Angelfish just as I got on the reef.  Usually very timid, this one was attracted to the strobe.
 Up near the Gray Mid-way Rock I found and photographed this Juvenile Blue Tang.
Found this Bluehead just South of the Perpendicular Rocks.
 Passed this small school of Porkfish past the Perpendicular Rocks and on the way to the Swept Rock.
 This little Green Turtle was on the Knoll. I had seen him along the reef, but I couldn't get a picture then.  This time, he was more cooperative, especially for the photograph below.

 Got a few pictures of Sergeant Majors, but this little guy is a Night Major.
From the Perpendicular Rock, I headed SW to the beach.  As I was swimming along a Bluespotted Coronetfish swam right up to me.  I stopped and he came really close and just stared at me.  
 I moved slowly and calmly, barely breathing, and he let me get several pictures.
 Then I swam away to the beach, but he followed along behind, then swam quickly up along side me and between my head and the strobe of the camera, which I was carrying in my left arm.
 He did this several times as I tried to hold a steady bearing and speed.   He got bored at some point, but we interacted for about 10 minutes as I headed to the beach.
Good air usage, but it got worse and the dive wore on and I got colder.

Just as I came off the reef, I spotted this Atlantic Guitarfish.  I can't help thinking it was the same one I saw on the Jacks yesterday.

I missed Irish Thighs and the Blocks on the way in. Ended up well South and had to swim North to Tower 17.  Still, nice dive.  Hazy, but good visibility w/in 15 ft.

21 January 2014

Solo Dive on the Clipper Jacks

      I'd messed up the diving yesterday because the Post Office was closed and I needed a certified mailing receipt for my Florida Sales Tax Return (the penalty for untimely filing is several hundred dollars and you can't depend on the Post Office to postmark the return).  Anyway, I decided to dive first and then go to the Post Office.

      The morning was cold, but warming.  I got to the Parking Lot by the Yankee Clipper about 8:30 am and was in the water slightly before 9:00 am.  I descended on the algae and swam out looking for octopus, but didn't see any.  I left the algae and swam over sand to the reef, then when I got to sand again, I headed South and ran into the Jacks.

When I got to the Jacks, I found a small Nurse Shark. I got some nice pictures.

I also found lots of Trumpetfish, including the one to the right, which has a blue face.  I've seen this fish before, but these are my first pictures.
 Usually, the Trumpetfishes face is the same color as the body.

I found a small school of Midnight Blue Parrotfish. This was as close as I got.

 I also found this Banded Butterflyfish.

I got several pictures of a reddish fish I did not recognize, but later found was a Glasseye Snapper.

On the way back to the beach, I ran into a small Atlantic Guitarfish just past the algae patch.  He let me take several shots and swim all around him while he sat motionless watching me.

Nice dive, but short.

20 January 2014

MLK Day Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

      I hung around until 10:00 am thinking that I could mail my sales tax return this morning, but the Post Office was closed.  I finally headed out around noon and found a single parking spot well South of Tower 20.  Nonetheless, I geared up and walked up to the corner and then hugged the beach onto the view property before I got in the water to avoid having the Lifeguard see me and cause a problem.

     I dropped in about 10 feet of water and swam South looking for my Rock Pile marker.   Once I found it, I decided to swim on a bearing of about 125-130.  I swam right to the Turtle Rock and then to the Ledge of Turtles where I took a number of pictures.

 I got several good shots of a Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish.
 and several shoots, too, of an adult Yellowtail Damselfish.
 Lots of Grunts:  French, Smallmouth and Bluestriped.

I then headed off to Shark's Rock and vicinity.

I came across this Spotted Moray Eel, who was either hunting with or being stalked by the large Cravalle Jack in the picture below.

 I headed back to the Nipple Rock and then West to the Ledge of Turtles and found this Spotted Cyphoma.
 And this Greater Soapfish.

About 20 yards into the reef, I passed this Caribbean Spiny Lobster on my way West to the beach.  Not a bad dive.

19 January 2014

Leo, Luis and I dive the Ledge of Turtles

      I wore the 1.5 mm long pants today and 12 pounds of weight.  I felt a little heavy getting in, but it seemed just fine underwater.  Maybe try it a little lighter tomorrow.  We swam out and descended at the rock pile, then swam a 125 degree course to the turtle rock and larger mid-way rock.  From there, I swam 120 degrees to the Ledge of Turtles, though the water was so hazy that you couldn't identify it until we were right on it.

     I got this shot of a handsome Gray Angelfish  
and several good shots of a juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish.
 Found this French Grunt away from the Ledge and to the Northwest.
 Swam after this Hogfish.  He wasn't exactly swimming away from me, but he was trying not to look at me.  I swam along side of him and he just couldn't help himself.  I got my shot.
 Like the big eyes on the Squirrelfish.
Took this shot of a Blue Tang on Shark's Rock.  

      We had come due East from the Ledge and found Nipple Rock, turned North and swam to Shark's Rock.  We did things in reverse on the way back, but somehow missed the Ledge.  We were well South of the Tower when we surfaced, however, and it was incredibly cold walking out. 

      Luis and Leo washed up and left while I tried to warm up for a second dive.  I never could stop shivering, however, and finally went home about 1:00 pm.  Took a nap with Jordan to warm up.