01 February 2014

Diving the Yankee Clipper Euro Jacks with Luis and Leo

We met at the parking lot at 8:30 am, geared up, hiked across the beach and got in the water.  The tide was still relatively high, so we finned up and swam out 20 minutes to the Jacks.  We descended and I discovered that although I had formatted the 32 GB card, I had forgotten to put it in the camera.  Water was calm and visibility was good.  It was a good dive, but because I had not put the card in the camera at home, because I had not taken a test shot at the truck before we got in the water, I have no pictures of this first dive.

Fortunately I carry a spare card, as well as other gear, and fortunately Leo wanted to make a second dive, so I got another chance.  This time I made sure there was a card in the camera, albeit only a 2 GB card.  Still, it was so much better than nothing.

     I got several shots of this Yellow Sand Ray, but I really liked this one.  We had descended over the algae and swam out underwater and this little ray was cruising the algae.

     Surprisingly, everything worked and we swam right to the Jacks.  I got this shot of a Blue Tang near a small pile of 4 jacks several yards to the West of the main grouping.

     Porcupinefish are quite timid and will usually swim the other way if a diver approaches, but I held my breath to avoid the sound of my bubbles and drifted up to this one.  I got pretty close, but would have liked to have been in front of him.

There are lots of Trumpetfish on the Jacks and the little guy to the right is what they usually look like. There is one that frequents the Jacks, however, that has a blue face.   I also got a picture of that fish on this dive.  It's not the best picture of the faced, but you can nonetheless tell it is blue.

      On the first dive I had spotted a Peacock Flounder.  This fellow had a Cymothoid Isopod attached.  The Cymothoids are not parasites, who eat their hosts, but rather attach themselves near the host's mouth and eat food floating in the water without damaging the host.  They begin life as free-swimming males about 1/8th inch long.  Once they attach to a host, however, they lose the ability to swim and will remain with the host for life.

      The small males who attach to a host with a female already in place will mate with that female. When the female dies, the male will change into a female and wait for male to join her.

       I often see Cymothoid Isopods on Doctorfish or Ocean Surgeonfish.  This was an exception.

      I got a pretty good shot of a Spotted Goatfish with his barbels extended, searching for food.

This is a little Three-spot Damselfish.  There are many of these along the Jacks.

31 January 2014

Cold Solo Dive off Tower 17

      Winds have been out of the East and in the 10 - 15 knott range, so I was not expecting very good visibility. I decided to shoot supermacro; added a +10 diopter to the 100mm macro lens.  The tide was still high when I got in and I had to put fins on to go through the trench, but then on the sandbar, I was skimming bottom as I tried to negotiate the surf.

      I swam out to the swim buoy and descended.  I was not planning on going far on the reef, but had planned to spend time going over the old Nursery area.  Visibility was terrible:  less than 3 feet over sand and about 8 feet on the reef.  I did not find much vegetation and very little life in the Old Nursery, so I went up on to the reef.

I'm not sure what this is.  It could be the sprout on a sea rod, but I don't know.
This Seaweed Blenny came out to watch.  He seemed to like the strobe.
 This is a Knobby Sea Rod.  The knobs fold in on themselves for protection whenever it gets bumped.
 Venus Sea Fan.
 Yellow Sponge Zoanthid
 Neon Goby.
This is a closeup of the tip of a baby Nurse Shark's tail.  Just this six inches were sticking out from under a coral head and the baby was not moving.  I probably could not have gotten a picture of the baby had it come out because of the diopter, but at least I could have gotten a closeup of the baby's eye.

The warmest bottom temperature was 73 degrees.  The entire dive lasted 106 minutes.  I was cold when I got out and my SAC rate was .51 ft3/minute.

30 January 2014

Solo Dive planned to the Clipper Jacks but actually spent on the algae.

So I skipped diving on the 3 previous days when it was warm and sunny and now I get out when it is colder and cloudy.  What was I thinking?  Still, it's not so bad in the water.  I entered just South of the rocks in front of Tower 2 and swam on the surface out to the algae, but also South so that the light post was in the middle of the fire station, where I descended.  There was a strong surface current near the beach, but it was pretty calm on the algae.  I was hoping to find some octopus, but didn't.  There was not much life up and around.  Got a few pictures, but not many.  Not much to shoot at and bad visibility to boot.

This little Sharpnose Puffer was happy to pose.

This Purplemouth Moray Eel was taken by surprise and slipped back into the coral head under which he was hiding.

I spent some time taking pictures of this Juvenile Highhat.

This Intermediate French Angelfish was frightened by the strobe and I only got the one shot.

This Sand Perch seemed very curious why I should be on his reef.

   I had tried to stay due East of the fire department, but I chased a few subjects and by the time I got to the second run of sand, I could have been anywhere. I thought I was North of the Jacks and swam South, but I went a long ways and did not find them, so I surfaced and found I was South of where I thought the jacks were.  I swam North a ways, but didn't see them and was getting low on air, so I headed WNW and headed back to the beach.

26 January 2014

Luis and I dive the Ledge of Turtles

I got to Tower 20 just at 8:30 am and had to park 5 cars back.  Still cold, but sunny and warming.  Luis pulled up shortly after I got there.  He was diving his dry suit today.  I stuck with the 5mm vest and shorts. They are not nearly as warm, but they are certainly more comfortable and I know the weights.

We swam to the reef and descended at the Rock Pile.  I tried to hold 125 degree bearing, but it was likely we held 130 as we were SW of the larger mid-way rock when I spotted it.  We swam over to the rock, took some pictures.

Got a good shot of this Foureye Butterflyfish
an interesting shot of this Juvenile Yellowhead Wrasse

and this shot of a Juvenile Porkfish.

We spent  5 -10 minutes taking pictures on the large Mid-way Rock, then went to the Ledge of Turtles where I got these shots:

Got this shot of a Yellowtail Damselfish on the Ledge of Turtles,

and this head shot of a Spanish Grunt

and this Blue Tang with a Porkfish and a French Grunt in the back ground.

From the Ledge of Turtles, we swam to the Eastern Ledge and headed North for a ways.  Turned at 1500 psi and went SW and found the cushion and Shark's Rock, so we swam South to Nipple Rock and then West to the Ledge.
Along the way, I shot this photograph of a Yellowline Arrow Crab,
This Juvenile Slender Filefish
and this Barred Hamlet.

As we worked our way West, I shot this Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish on the Ledge of Turtles.

Not much current, if any, but there was a bit of a tide wash.  Still we found  all the landmarks and got back to the beach with an air reserve.  Good day for a dive, but I was not up for a second dive.  Too cold.