08 May 2014

Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles Aborted

The surf was pretty imposing this morning.  A five foot wave looks huge when you are in the trough looking up.  I got out past the breaking waves and swam to the Rock Pile, but the water was choppy and rough. I couldn't see the bottom.  I descended, but still couldn't see anything. Visibility was just inches. I decided I must be close and would just head up the reef at 120 degrees until the visibility got better. Hard to read the compass and maintain my position in the water column. I literally clawed my way East, but the visibility never improved.  Lots of surge. Constant current.  I was working hard and getting no where. I finally decided to give up, so I surfaced and swam back on top where I could see where I was going.  Getting out was rough, I was in 10 feet of water, then I was in 2 feet trying to get my fins off without losing the camera.  Hope its better tomorrow.

07 May 2014

Solo Dive to the Little Coral Knoll

Windy this morning and from the East.  Surf was up.  Visibility was very poor, maybe 8 feet on the reef and only 2 over the sand.  I am surprised I found the Little Knoll in these conditions, but I did.

Found a Green Turtle sleeping on the knoll.  Got some good pictures.

 This wasn't the brightest turtle.  I came back later and he was circling a porous sea rod and seemingly stuck with his body on one side of the rod and his flipper on the other.
I watched to see that he could untangle himself, and he eventually did, but I was beginning to get concerned.


I found a fish I have not seen before, though it may be a young Red Grouper. I just don't remember the tail being a large or well defined as it appears to be in the picture.

I got this picture of a Giant Anemone, but my focus was on the Squat Anemone Shrimp in the middle of the picture and to the right of the anemone.  It might be easier to see on a larger picture.  
 This turned out to be a great shot of a Sergeant Major.  Really fills up the frame.
 This is a Juvenile Dusky Damselfish and is usually identified by a splash of orange on the top.

This is a Butter Hamlet.

Did a lot better on air yesterday, though I had about the same amount of air both days.  Two hours and 7 minutes today and two hours and 17 minutes yesterday. The difference was the surge and current.  

06 May 2014

Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

I got to the beach about 8:00 am and got into the water by 8:27 am. I was finishing off a tank with about 750 psi, so I just toured around in the sand between the beach and the reef.  I saw but did not immediately recognize a second of the mantis shrimp like bugs living in holes off Tower 20. Didn't really matter since I had not even taken my camera with me. I stayed near the reef until I had 28 minutes and then came back. Total dive time was 32 minutes.

I surfaced, warmed up a bit, quickly changed tanks and finished my coffee, then got back in for a solo dive to the Ledge of Turtles. I swam out to the Rock Pile and headed up the reef at 120 degrees. Took my camera this time. Hung out on the Ledge with the fish for the most of the dive.

Got some shots of a Brown Chromis that hung out on the coral heads on the East edge of the Ledge.

Got shots of the same reef fish that are usually there, like this Blue Tang
 this Sergeant Major
this Yellowtail Damselfish
these two Spanish Grunts
 and this Three Spot Damselfish.

I also had a Southern Atlantic Stingray swim across the Ledge.

Did well on my air:  .40 ft3 respiratory minute volume and a total dive time of 137 minutes, which is pretty much my longest dive so far this year.      

05 May 2014

Adrian Gaitan and I Make Three Dives off Tower 17 for a Total Over 4 1/2 hours Underwater

Adrian Gaitan, who completed his open water course with me in June of 2011, came back for some more diving. We geared up and got in the water a little before 9:00 am, but Adrian had not checked his tank pressure until we were in the water and he asked me to turn it on for him. He had a little less than 2500 psi. A good reason to develop as a habit turning your air on when you put the tank on your back and to check the tank's pressure.

Notwithstanding his less than perfect fill, Adrian and I swam on the surface to the concrete blocks to descend.
Once down, we headed onto the reef, up the gun sight and to the Cigar Rock then to the Gray Mid-way Rock where we turned North and swam to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and onto the Knoll. Along the way I got several pictures, including

this shot of a Spotted Scorpionfish,

this shot of a White Grunt seeking to have a young Porkfish clean its mouth,

and this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt.

We found a turtle on the Big Coral Knoll and I got some pictures of Adrain with the turtle. I was using the 100 mm macro lens and things didn't work out as well as I had hoped.  Still, they were not bad shots.

From the Knoll, we swam over to the English Garden, then came back.  Adrian was down to 1500 psi so we took a slow turn around the Knoll then swam out to the Perpendicular Rocks then WSW to the beach.  Got this shot of a Spotted Burfish as we came off the reef and onto the sand.

Water temperature was 77 degrees and total dive time was 68 minutes.

We took an 84 minute surface interval during which we warmed up, then geared up.  This time Adrian turned on his air and checked his tank pressure before he put the tank on his back.  We got in the water, but the water was choppy and he did not want to swim on the surface, so we descended and tried to find the concrete blocks.  We couldn't, so I headed ENE, hoping to find landmarks that I recognized.  We didn't.

We ended up both North and East of the Knoll, which I learned when I surfaced to determine where we were. We came back via the Fish Camp Rocks, though we did not get to spend as much time there as I would have liked. Still, I got some pictures.

Like this shot of a Hogfish with his mottled red coloration

which turned to this pearly white coloration within a few moments of my first strobe flash.

Got this shot of a Midnight Parrotfish

this Rainbow Parrotfish

and this shot of a Porcupinefish.

The water temperature remained at 77 degrees, but our dive time increased to 104 minutes.

I sort of talked Adrian into a third dive.  We spent 79 minutes warming up, then we geared up and got in the water. This time we went out on the sand, but I surfaced when we did not spot the blocks and determined we were too far North, so we headed South and found the blocks.  From there we made the same dive as our first dive and swam out to the Knoll.

Found this Goldentail Moray Eel on the Knoll.

Adrian tried to point out a Sharptail Eel who was being followed by a Spanish Hogfish, but it took me too long to see what he wanted me to see.  I missed the shot.

Got a good shot of this Scrawled Filefish

this Orange Spotted Filefish

and this Sailors Choice.

We  might have made a 2 hour dive, but we were both cold and I though Adrian had less air than he actually did, so we headed to the beach. I spotted these claws reaching up to a bit of greenery we held over the hole. I don't know for sure what this thing is, but it appears to be some sort of Amphipod.

Water temperature went up to 79 degrees and our dive time was 107 minutes.

04 May 2014

Luis and I dive the Big Coral Knoll

It was raining and very windy when I walked the dog early this morning.  I almost sent Luis an email canceling the dive.  I am so glad I did not do that.  Although the Eastern horizon was black and threatening when we got to the beach, the sun came out.  The dive was a little cold:  fresh cold rain water on top of the salt water.  Air temperature was in the mid-70's and the wind was chilly.  We got in at the blocks and made a leisurely trek up to the Mid-Way Rock, then over to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and the Knoll.

Spotted this Purplemouth Moray Eel just after the Cigar Rock.

I spotted a Green Sea Turtle on the Knoll when I got there.  Looked like he was just waking up.

Got some good shots, but the turtle got spooked when Luis joined us.

Got some shots of this Juvenile Creole Wrasse

Spotted this Spanish Lobster just motoring along over the reef.  Quickly took this shot.
He sort of high centered on this Great Star Coral and both Luis and I got some good pictures while he posed for us.
 Got a shot of this Spotted Scorpionfish after a big yawn.  Too bad I wasn't paying closer attention and got a shot down his gullet.

The little Green Turtle came back and I got this shot of Luis getting his picture.
 I also got a nice shot of this Cymothoid Isopod attached to a Doctorfish.

On the way back to the beach, we went by the Perpendicular Rocks and spotted this Nurse Shark catching a nap.

Luis had a short fill from Hugh, but he did just fine on the dive. We left the Knoll at 1000 psi and ended up at the blocks at about 500 psi.  we killed a little time, then spotted some more Green Turtles and got pictures.  Then we headed in.  Made a 125 minute dive.  Not bad for a short tank.  Sure was nice to have my D6i working.