07 February 2014

Another Semi-Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

Sue Chalmers got to the beach, behind Tower 20, before I did.  We geared up, got in and swam out to the reef.  I descended to the rock pile and then headed off at a 125 degree bearing.  Sue swam off due East to Shark's Rock.  I was a bit South and West of the mid-way rocks, but I spotted the round coral head and swam up to the mid-way rocks, then headed at 120 degrees to the Ledge of Turtles.

First thing I saw as I approached the Ledge was two French Grunts going mouth to mouth.  I got pretty close and they didn't seem concerned with me.  I took several pictures.  Even though they would break apart when the strobe started flashing, they went right back at it seconds later.

I also got a couple of pictures of a Smooth Trunkfish, but he did not let me get very close.

 After a few minutes, I swam over to Shark's Rock to find Sue, who was floating on the surface.  We talked about the best way to locate the Ledge of Turtles, they I went down, swam South to Nipple Rock and West to the Ledge.  She swam straight to the Ledge and got there well before me.  Along the way I took this picture of some finger coral, which was everywhere.

 I got a great picture of a Hogfish coming around the coral heads on the East end of the Ledge.

 I also got this shot of two Spanish Grunts aligned as if they are mirror images of one another.

Sue wanted me to take a picture of a long-spined urchin, which I did.  As I explained to her later, it is often difficult photographing urchins since there is often not enough light to set the aperature for a depth of field adequate to bring all of the spines into focus.  This picture came out just fine.

Sue took off again to search for lobster, but she got me to take a picture of the Sand Diver to the right. Apparently the sun had enhanced the colors on the fish.  I didn't see it at the time.

 I got pictures of Bluestriped Grunts

A Yellow variation of a Yellowtail Damselfish

 a Christmas Tree Worm,

a White Grunt imitating a sea rod

and an Arrow Crab.

As I was getting low on air, I surfaced to see if I could see Sue's flag, but I could not.  I got to the beach in time to see her walk out of the surf.  

06 February 2014

Semi-Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll

Sue joined me on the beach this morning, though we did not exactly dive together.  She was hunting lobster and covering large distances quickly. I was conserving air and taking pictures.  We met at Tower 17, geared up and swam out to the blocks.  From there, I made my dive up the gunsight and to the Big Coral Knoll. Sue went on to the Fish Camp Rocks and maybe the Eastern Ledge.

I spotted this Intermediate Blackear Wrasse just past Irish Thighs and got this picture.

I got this shot of a Juvenile Porkfish at the Cigar Rock.

 East of the Cigar Rock and still West of the Gray Mid-way Rock, I spotted three Caribbean Reef Squid.  I tried to get close and get some really good shots, but they were too shy and too quick.

 As I passed the Bubble Rocks and before getting to the Perpendicular Rocks, I shot this picture of a school of Porkfish just hanging out in the sea rods.
On the North side of the Knoll, I found this Juvenile Creole Wrasse.  I spent at least 5 minutes and way too much air chasing it to get this shot.

Sue came to check on me at the Knoll and to let me know she was down to 1000 psi and would be heading in shortly.  I completed my tour of the Knoll and surfaced to spot her flag at the Fish Camp Rocks.

I swam over to the Rocks to swim in with her, but I could not find her.  I think she was already on the beach.  I did find a small school of both Midnight

and Rainbow Parrotfish.   I spent some time getting pictures, then headed West to the beach.

 Along the way, I spotted this little Octopus. Though he was out and awake, I could not get him to play.

Just before I passed the blocks, I got a picture of one of the two Blue Gobys who hang out there.

 I had hoped to make a second dive and Sue offered to swim out with me, but I was still cold from the first dive.  Conserving energy and gas means not producing much heat.  I passed on the second dive.

05 February 2014

Solo Dive Planned on the Ledge of Turtles, but I apparently swam right by it, twice.

Late getting to the beach, so I had to hustle to get in the water by 9:30, before the lifeguards arrived.  I made it, but I was not ready for the dive.  I was cold when I got in and I stayed cold the whole time.

 The visibility was poor, but there was plenty of life.  I got pictures of this Juvenile Blue angelfish,

 then one of an inactive Spotted Goatfish

then a second picture of the same fish as its coloring went from inactive to active as it swam away from me.

I must have gotten off my bearing while taking pictures because I did not find the Ledge of Turtles or any of my usual landmarks.  So I just swam around.

I came up on Sharks Rock from the North and found a rather large Nurse Shark napping in its Lee. I only got this one picture of the shark's eye, as it raced away once I triggered the strobe.  

From Shark's Rock,  I went South to the Nipple Rock and then headed West to the Ledge of Turtles, but somehow I missed it.  I did spot this little insect looking thing along the bottom and got a couple of shots. I still have not identified it.  

I got pictures of a Juvenile Blue Tang among some Staghorn Coral,

as well as a Foureye Butterflyfish, but I never found the Ledge of Turtles.

I went West to the beach after barely an hour and a half.  I was still cold and decided against a second dive.

04 February 2014

Solo Diving the Ledge of Turtles with the Canon 5d Mk III

       The cable connection from the camera to the stobe was corroded, so I cleaned it out, but that meant that the cable and the housing back were wet and needed to dry.   I decided to set up the Mk III and took it out instead of the Mk II.  Seemed to work fine.  Got some good shots.

      As usual, I swam out to the rock pile and headed off on a 125 degree bearing, but I spotted a Bandtail Puffer and gave chase.  Got some good shots, but I lost my bearing and missed the Ledge of Turtles.   I'm not sure where I was diving, but I got some good shots.

   Found a Brown Horseshoe Worm and got a nice picture.

      Also found a Banded Coral Shrimp and got a nice if upside down picture.

       Saw a Squirrelfish in the Staghorn Coral, as well as a French Grunt or two.

I had worn shorts on the first dive, but change to long pants for the second dive.  They kept me warmer and being warmer may have gotten me to a 2 hour dive.  I was breathing better, primarily because I was not shivering.  I went in off the Pelican and headed SE.  I went maybe 2/3 rds of the way out to the Eastern Ledge and came West towards the beach.  I was hoping to find the Ledge of Turtles, but did not.  I came in right on Tower 20 and shifted just a little to come out at the main entry.

Got a shot of this Sharpnose Puffer.

This Intermediate Gray Angelfish.

A Gray Snapper

An Atlantic Spadefish

and this Sheepshead Porgy.

Total dive time was 121 minutes.  This was the first two hour dive since the New Year.

03 February 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Ledge of Turtles and in front of the Pelican Grand

I got to the beach about 8:30 am, geared up and got in.  I descended as soon as I had my flag attached and my mask washed out.  Found a small grappling anchor and short bit of line.  I picked it up and went looking for the Rock Pile.  Dragged a large rock to add to the pile and hid the anchor in the rock pile to pick up on the way back.  The I headed off at 130 degrees.  Tried to take a picture, but the strobe was not working. Reset the aperture and got some pictures.

I see a lot of this Yellow Sponge Zoanthid, lately.  I don't remember seeing it so much last Summer or Fall.

Also see a number of these Foureye Butterflyfish

But not so many of these Trumpetfish.  I like the way they go vertical and pretend to be a sea rod.  Must work sometimes.  They all do it.  

      I continued swimming out to the round symmetrical brain coral.  I remembered seeing it, but I could not recall where.  Finally, I happened to look up the rise and saw the Large Mid-way rock and Turtle Rock.  I swam up to them and then swam on a 120 bearing to the Ledge of Turtles.  Shot some more pictures of the usual stuff:

 Spotted Goatfish,


Spanish Grunts


Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish

 Yellowtail Damselfish

and Orangespotted Filefish.

Nothing new like the juvenile trunkfish I found on the Knoll, but of course the visibility was really bad today and I may have missed all sorts of things.  Swam back to the rock pile, picked up my anchor and swam in to the beach.  

       I warmed up pretty quickly in the sun.  It was actually hot on the beach.  I was ready to dive within an hour.  I decided not to take the camera on my second dive.  The visibility was too bad and the non-functioning strobe sealed the deal.  I walked around to the Pelican to avoid the Lifeguard and then swam due East to the Ledge.  Killed some time hanging on the reef just before the sand, letting the clock run past 90 minutes.  Then off to the beach.  Might have made a third dive, but I got worried about decompression issues and decided to work that all out before making 3 dives.

02 February 2014

Diving the Big Coral Knoll with Luis

      I met Luis at the beach behind Tower 17.  I had invited Sue Chalmers, but she did not appear.  Sky was clear and the day was sunny.  We geared up and got in.  Swam out to the blocks and descended a little West and South of the blocks.  The swim buoy moves with the wind and surface current, which makes it a poor triangulation point.  But we found them.

We went up the gunsight to the Cigar Rock and then drifted a bit South and ended up at the split coral head.

      On the way to the Coral Head and just a bit East of the Cigar Rock, I found an Octopus.  It was secure in a hole and only the eye was peeking out.  I tried to play with it by wiggling my fingers.  When I got my hand close to it, it shot water at me from its siphon.  Scared me and I jumped back.  When I calmed down, I continued East to the Fish Camp Rocks, then went North to the Big Coral Knoll.

  On the Knoll, I spotted a Juvenile Yellow Tunkfish.  As I was approaching it for a picture, a Damselfish chased it off.  I followed it to another coral head in which it hid.  I got some pictures, but not really good ones, just as good as I could get. I backed off, hoping he would come out, but he stayed put.

      While I was waiting on the Juvenile Yellow Trunkfish, though, I spotted a Juvenile Smooth Trunkfish just 3 yards to the North.  I swam over then behind the little white spotted black tennis ball until it settled down and I got some pictures of it.

 We were both getting low on air, so we headed back.  We went to the Perpendicular Rocks, then headed SW to the beach.  Along the way I found a Doctorfish with a Cymothoid Isopod attached to it just below and behind the mouth.

      As we were heading back, I found that we were close to 2 hours dive time.  I ended the dive at 113 minutes and 212 psi, which, even if I could have accessed it all, would probably have just gotten me to two hours.  Still, its the longest dive I've had so far in 2014.  Such a change from Summer.

      We surfaced in a rain storm.  The sky was completely overcast.  We decided to skip the second dive.  I was cold and unlikely to warm up in the rain.  So we cleaned up and I drove home.  By the time I unloaded the truck, however, it was sunny outside.