26 April 2014

Leo and I dive the Algae Patch off the beach at Tower 2

Sat out for an hour to warm up after the dive on the Jacks, then decided to dive the Algae Patch just off the beach in front of Tower 2.  We dropped as soon as we got to the algae and swam slowly out to the sand and back.  We hunted around taking lots of pictures.

I saw the same small Nurse Shark twice.

Leo found a Purplemouth Moray Eel out in the open and we got some good pictures of that.

Took lots of other pictures, like this Bearded Fireworm

This Planehead Filefish

This Gray Angelfish

This Slippery Dick

and this Lantern Bass.

Had plenty of air, but just got cold and was ready to get out.

Leo and I Dive the Euro Jacks off the Yankee Clipper

Leo had no traffic issues and met me at the beach at 8:00 am.  We geared up and got in the water, but then swam out to the reef on the surface.  This is usually a 20 minute swim, but I wasn't timing it this morning and we were not swimming very quickly.

We went down when we spotted a single jack and then swam East to the Euro Jacks. They are piled up as a wall that in places is well over 10 feet tall.  The wall lies roughly on an East/West line.  The Jacks make an excellent habitat for fish.

I have heard but do not believe that the Jacks were laid to prevent enemy submarines from entering Port Everglades.  There is another set of Euro Jacks off Dania Beach.

This one Atlantic Spadefish was part of a much larger school that came by at about 10 feet.

We've seen this blue faced Trumpetfish before at the Jacks.  I have not seen another and suspect this is the only one.

This Banded Butterflyfish had a companion, but they were too fast to get in the same picture.

This Queen Angelfish kept her distance but remained perfectly calm as I took this shot.

I had initially thought this was a Night Sergeant, but on reflection think it is a Blue Male Sergeant Major.

This Porcupinefish was quite shy and this was about as close as I could get before it took off.

This Bicolor Damselfish paused for this shot, but otherwise darted quickly from one place to another protecting its territory.

This is a fish I have not seen before.  I think it is a Glasseye Snapper, but as this is the only one I have ever seen, it is hard to tell.

It took us a little shy of an hour to swim along the Jacks to the Eastern end, then another hour to swim back to the beach.  We overcompensated for the North current and ended up way South of Tower 2.  Sometimes its like that.

24 April 2014

Verdes Terblanche and I Try a Night Dive on the Little Coral Knoll, but Can't Find it in the Dark

Verdes is going to be busy tomorrow and can't dive, so we decided to try a night dive.  Drove down to Tower 15 to dive the Little Coral Knoll just as the sun was setting.  We swam out to the swim buoy with plenty of light and descended to the Large Rock then headed 150 degrees to the Little Coral Knoll except that we never made it.

I got this shot of a Smooth Trunkfish at the Big Rock,

as well as this shot of a Sharpnose Puffer.  I found the Moray Eel in the rock, but could not coax it out to get a pictures.  

 From the rock, we headed 150 degrees to the Knoll, but never did find it. Verdes had a really bright light. When he turned it on, I couldn't see anything except where his light was shinning. I missed all my landmarks and we ended up aimlessly exploring the reef.  Which was fine, too.  Got this shot of a Caribbean Spiny Lobster.

Found a Scrawled Cowfish who was captivated by the Ikelite Strobe and let me get some good head on shots. I imagine that shortly after this experience, he founded his own fish religion.  
 Verdes spotted this Purplemouth Moray Eel, who was hunting and pretty exposed.

We both got cold and Verdes got low on air, so we surfaced and found we were off Sunrise, much too far South.  We swam back on the surface, which took longer than I had expected.  Still, it was fun.

Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

Got to the beach about 8:45 am and read a little before gearing up at 9:00 am and getting in.  I dropped once I got everything set and swam out to the reef on the bottom.  I was hoping to find that manta shrimp looking creature again, but did not.  Instead, I found the whole reef covered in light green algae.  I don't remember it being like that when I last dove the Ledge.  It took some time to find the Rock Pile, but I did.  I went up on the reef at 120 degrees, trying to adjust for the current.

Not far from the Rock Pile, I found a Spotted Burrfish and spent some time photographing it.

I continued up the reef and spotted Turtle Rock through the haze.  I swam right to the Ledge from there.  Took lots of pictures on the Ledge,

these two Porkfish,

a Striped Parrotfish,
a Purplemouth Moray Eel,
a Squirrelfish,
a Spanish Grunt,
 a Yellowtail Damselfish (Golden Variation), and
my favorite is this Threespot Damselfish.

 At about 1500 psi, I decided to head over to Shark's Rock and look around.

I found these Black Margate,

several Midnight Parrotfish,

and this little Hermit Crab.


I headed back to the Ledge, via Nipple Rock and then 300 degrees down the reef to the Rock Pile,where I spotted and photographed this Green Sea Turtle.

It was a long dive at 2 hours 15 minutes, and I was shivering when I got out.  I was cautious since I had fallen last time I was here, but I did fine this time.

23 April 2014

Dennis Viaznikov and I Make Four Dives off Tower 15

Dennis got certified last week and he is now an Open Water certified diver.  We swam out to the Large Rock just NW of the swim buoy and descended though we had some trouble finding the rock because the water was really hazy. That's Dennis in the pink tank coming around the rock.

 Once we found the rock, I got some pictures, including this shot of a Purplemouth Moray Eel peeking out from the coral.

Then we headed South to the other rock for more pictures, including this one of a Giant Anemone and

this shot of a Rough File Clam.

From the second rock, we swam 150 degrees to the Dog Rock and finally 140 degrees to the Little Knoll. Along the way, I spotted this Flamingo Tongue and got the picture.  Notice the glassy appearance of sea rod beneath the Flamingo Tongue.

We hung around the Little Knoll taking pictures like this shot of a Rock Hind

this shot of a Harlequin Bass

and this shot of a nudibranch which I found near the overturned coral head on the NE corner of the Little Knoll.

When Dennis indicated that he was down to 1,000 psi, we headed back to the beach where we spent some time by the truck, standing in the sun and warming up.  Then we made essentially the same dive as our first dive.  Swam out to the Large Rock, then South to the second rock, 150 degrees to the Dog Rock and 140 degrees to the Little Knoll.  Dennis was almost out of air, so seemed like we headed back almost as soon as we got there, but still almost an hour dive.  Took some more pictures, too.  You can see them on Picasaweb.

We spent a little over an hour at the truck.  Breaking the dives up helped us to stay warm, but water still conducts heat away from your body about 20 times faster than air and the difference between the bottom temperature of 77 degrees and our core body temperature is significant. I was cold and it felt good to dry off and warm up.  But the water beckoned and we geared up to make a third dive.

Once we got in the water, Dennis complained that he was leaking air.  He had started with 2900 psi, but was down to 2700 psi when we were in the water.  I think a lot of that was the over heated tank sitting in the back of the truck and the cooled down tank in the water, but his tank did appear to be leaking slightly from around the valve when I looked at it under water.  We swam out to the swim buoy.  I went down, but Dennis did not follow.   I went back to the surfaced to learn that he had forgot to turn on his air.  We decided to head East to the ledge to see what was there.  We went through an area full of staghorn coral and reef fish.  We didn't spend a lot of time looking, but it was a much more interesting area than I remembered.  Once on the sand, I went up to fix the flag reel, which had gotten tangled.  My computer closed out this third dive and started a fourth dive.  

We had drifted quite a ways North and were about due East of Tower 16.  Dennis was still fine on air, so I started back slowly,  I wanted to explore the staghorn coral, but we did not find it.  Must still have been too far North.

I got this picture of a mottled Hogfish, which the Humann and DeLoach book suggests is a coloration they adopt when feeding.

Once the strobe flashed, the Hogfish began to change back to its usual white and Gray coloration.  The change just took seconds.

Took this shot of a Juvenile Queen Angelfish

this set of Christmas Tree Worms

This picture of a Gray Snapper, who is just too put together to be a fish. He ought to be in a James Bond movie.

As we got near to the beach, Dennis indicated he was down to 500 psi and I spotted this Green Sea Turtle and got a few pictures.

Hell of a day at sea.

22 April 2014

A Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll and to the North to Investigate a Dive Charter Anchored on the Reef

Dennis elected not to dive this morning, so I figured I should be good for only one long dive and I decided to go to the Big Coral Knoll.  There was a dive charter which appeared to be anchored on the reef, but it was quite a bit North and East of the Knoll.  I wanted to get pictures of the anchor.  I geared up and swam out to the concrete blocks to descend.  I went up the gun sight.

Found a Yellowline Arrow Crab tucked under a small coral head.  He seemed to like the strobe and came out a bit after the first picture.

I've seen this little Seaweed Blenny on Irish Thighs for the past several weeks and have often taken his picture.  I think he recognizes me.  He does not duck in his hole anymore, but waits to see what I'm going to do.

This Juvenile Queen Angelfish can usually be found at the Cigar Rock, but usually stays well inside.  Today he came out and posed for me.

On the way to the Gray Mid-Way Rock, I overcompensated for the current and ended up next to the broken coral head.  As I turned to pick up the Rock to the North, I spotted this small Nurse Shark, who promptly took off.

I continued North to the Perpendicular Rocks and got some shots of this Greater Soapfish.  These are usually very shy and I was fortunate that he let me take his picture.  

Near the Swept Rock, I spotted this Redband Parrotfish who appeared to be having a huge belly laugh. I couldn't resist taking his picture.

I continued onto the Knoll and got this picture of a Hogfish just along the Southern edge of the Knoll.

I swam out to the English Garden and got this picture of an Orange Spotted Filefish.

I also surfaced to see where I was with respect to the charter boat and it was a ways North and East.  So I swam on for another 15-20 minutes and surfaced again. It looked like Todd's boat and I began to feel a little creepy about the whole thing, so I headed back to the Knoll without getting a picture of the anchor.

The water was warmer today than yesterday:  77 degrees.  I was shivering, nonetheless.  Remember that water conducts heat away from your body about 20 times faster than air does.  This dive lasted 2 hours and 7 minutes.  I was cold.  It was overcast and a little rainy so the beach wasn't crowded.  I hadn't warmed up in 45 minutes, so I headed home.