05 April 2014

Liz Crane joined Leo, Luis and I for a dive on the Little Coral Knoll

We met at the beach at 8:30 am. The ocean was remarkably calm this morning, so we swam out on the surface and looked for the Little Knoll.  I went to the intersection of the line formed by the telephone pole and the North edge of the Southern building below the tree line and a 120 degree bearing from the Tower.  The Little Knoll was not there.  Luis found it way South of where I thought it was, and we dropped.  Hung out near the knoll for the bulk of the dive. It may seem like I dive the same sites time after time, and I suppose that I do, but I see new and different things on pretty much every dive.

 I saw and managed to photograph several White Grunts "fighting," which I have not seen before. Mostly I see the French grunts going mouth-to-mouth.

 Saw a number of young Blue Tangs like this one.  Notice the yellowing still on its tail.

I like this shot of a Juvenile Queen Angelfish in the Staghorn Coral, but I also got some cleaner shots.

I am always amazed by these Giant Anemones.

Found a Red-tipped Fireworm just off the knoll and followed it around for a bit.

Found a Red Hind who was a little shy, but curious as well.

This was a rather large Split Crown Feather Duster.

Leo got cold early in the dive.  Liz was down to 1100 psi when we turned.  Not far to the beach.  I could have made 2 hours today, but we started back too soon.

04 April 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll

The surf was a little rough this morning, but easy enough to get through.  I swam out to the concrete blocks and descended.  Headed up the gun sight, but got set to the North. I corrected for the current set when I passed Irish Thighs.

 I also took a picture of the little Seaweed Blenny who has been living there for the past week or so.

Ran into a Hawksbill Sea Turtle as I headed up the the Gray Mid-way Rock and got off my bearing as I followed him around taking pictures, but I spotted the Rock and quickly got back on course. Headed North to the Perpendicular Rocks then over to the Knoll.

As I left the Swept Rock and got on the Knoll, I spotted a Cymothoid Isopod attached to a Doctorfish who was swimming by.  Got this shot.

As I headed East along the South edge of the Knoll, I spotted a tiny baby Golden Variation of a Smooth Trunkfish.

Took a lot of pictures and spent a good deal of time following him around.

I was taking a picture of this Spotted Scorpionfish when he started swimming at me.  I moved back several times before he stopped.  I got this picture.

I did well on air:  30 minutes at 2500 psi.  Should have made 2 hours, but I got cold and I spent a lot of time swimming to stay down in the surge.  Any way, I came up 2 minutes shy of 2 hours.

03 April 2014

Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

Had to take a shower at the last minute, so I was a little late getting to the beach this morning.  Still, I got out near the intersection of the line from the telephone pole to the Southern building behind the trees and dropped by 9:30 am.  Unfortunately, I wasn't on the Little Knoll.  I slowly explored the reef and took pictures.

I like the white lines with the feathered layers.

I spotted a Juvenile Porkfish on a small coral head and got some nice shots,

then I found an adult Porkfish and got this picture for contrast.

I like this shot of a Juvenile Highhat, but there is a lot of backscatter in the picture because there were a lot of particles in the water.

Still can't pass up these Knobby Sea Rods.

I found this little crab under a rock. I only had time for one shot before he scampered off.

I finally found the knoll, but not until 80 minutes into the dive. I spotted this Barred Hamlet and got some nice pictures.

I also found a small Goldentail Moray Eel hiding in the middle of the Knoll.  I tried, but I could not coax him out of the small hole he was in.  He watched me and was curious, but not curious enough to come out.

I had a nice fill and did fine on the air for the first 45 minutes, but I got cold, really cold, and started burning through the air. The warmest water temperature was 75 degrees, according to my computer, but I saw temperatures as low as 71 during the dive. I was stretching to get two hours out of the dive.

02 April 2014

Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll

I thought about going to Tower 20 so I might make a second dive, but since I have a meeting at 1:00 pm, I decided to just dive the Big Coral Knoll and then fill tanks.  So I drove to Tower 17, parked, geared up and got in the water. I swam out to the concrete blocks and descended.  As I set up my camera, I watched a little Sailfin Blenny pop out of this hole and wave his large fin in a dance that lasted about 20 seconds then dive back in his hole.

I got my camera ready and laid on the bottom waiting for him to do it again, but he wouldn't.  He just poked his head out of the hole and looked around.  I waited for 5 minutes and gave up.  I swam up the gunsight to the Gray Mid-way Rock, then over to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and then the Knoll.

As I approached the Knoll, I spotted a Green Sea Turtle. I swam behind him for a little bit so he would get used to me, then drifted towards him and got this shot.

On the South Eastern edge of the Knoll, I found these two Damselfish squaring off.  I watched for over a minute as they stared at each other, broke off and came back to stare some more.  They never touched one another and never went mouth-to-mouth like the French Grunts, perhaps because their mouths are so small.

In the center of the Knoll, I spotted this little Nudibranch.  Really needed a + 10 diopter to get a good shot of this guy.

I thought this was an interesting shot of a Scrawled Filefish.  I had forgotten how thin they are.

This shot is a French Grunt seeking a dental cleaning from a juvenile Yellowhead Wrasse.

I have no idea what this thing is.  Been looking through the Humann and DeLoach books, but I'm not finding him.

The tank had a nice fill and the water seemed warm.  I got 9 minutes on the first 208 psi when I descended and thought that I would likely make a two hour dive.  The water that seemed warm on the surface, however, was only 73 degrees on the bottom. I got cold. I began shivering at about 70 minutes and ended the dive 4 minutes shy of my 2-hour goal.

01 April 2014

Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

The air was cool when I got up, but I wanted to get in the water today.  I swam out to the intersection of 300 degrees off Tower 15 and the line defined by the telephone pole and the Southern building behind the trees.  It was not the Little Knoll, though it may have been close.  I swam around the area for about 20 minutes and spotted the upturned coral head on the NE corner of the Little Knoll.  I spent the rest of the dive exploring the Little Knoll and taking pictures.

This Scrawled Filefish kept its distance, but spent a lot of time watching and following me around the knoll.

I found a little Goldentail Moray Eel tucked in the coral and took several pictures. I tried to entice him out, but this is about as far as I could get him.

I took a lot of shots of this Juvenile Creole Wrasse to get this one shot.  These little guys are fast and turn on a dime.

This Hogfish wasn't so shy, but he kept his distance for the most part.

I also played with a little Queen Angelfish, who was curious, but shy.

As usual, I got cold at around 40 minutes and started shivering after an hour. For much of the dive, 2 hours seemed possible, but it was not.  I was under for 101 minutes and the tank was sucked dry.  

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.