31 May 2014

Luis, Leo and I dive the Yankee Clipper Jacks and the Algae Patch

Met Luis and Leo in the South Beach Parking Lot at 7:30 am.  We geared up, hiked to the beach and then swam out to the shelf just West of the Jacks.  We descended at a single Jack and made our way East to the wall.  After the slow and deliberate dives on the Little Knoll, it was a workout.  I chewed through my air, too.  The tank lasted 108 minutes compared to 140 and 146 minutes on Tuesday, 131 minutes on Wednesday and 131 and 139 minutes on Thursday.  Seemed crowded, too.  Everywhere I turned I was running into either Leo or Luis.  I hung back and let them get well ahead of me.  Saw a lot of fish and took a lot of pictures.

Saw a couple of Glasseye Snappers,

some Initial Phase Queen Parrotfish
 and a pair of Banded Butterflyfish.

 Also saw and photographed a 6 or 7 foot Green Moray Eel, who swam West along the South side of the wall of Jacks while Luis and I were swimming East.
 Got some good photos of this Spotted Trunkfish

and even a Porcupinefish.

Stayed longer than we probably should have on the Jacks and I was using my arms to pull myself over the reef trying to get back before I ran out of air.  Unlike Tower 17, we don't dive the Jacks often enough that I know how long it takes to get back. It's the not knowing that is difficult.

Leo was ready to go again as soon as he changed tanks. I needed more time to rest up. My black tank was supposed to be full, but had only 2000 psi in it. Need to check the valve and make sure it is not leaking. So I geared up and we got in the water. We descended in about 12 feet of water on the algae patch just off Tower 1. We headed more or less North.

I found and photographed a little red crab of some sort.

Luis found a Purplemouth Moray Eel being cleaned by two Scarlet striped Cleaning Shrimp.

Leo found a Rock Hind.

It was an interesting dive with a surprising amount of life.  My 2000 psi tank lasted all of 86 minutes, which surprised me.  I went home a took a nap.

29 May 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Ledge of Turtles

Got to the beach early this morning.  Spent 20 minutes reading, then got my gear on and got in the water.  I descended in about 9 ft, but found myself a little nervous.  It was still pretty dark in the water and visibility was terrible over the sand.  I swam to the reef.  Surfaced to see I was way North of the Rock Pile then descended and swam South to find it.  Once I did, I set up the camera and headed up the reef at 120 degrees.

Almost ran over a Guitarfish lying on the sand about 3 minutes from the Rock Pile.  I took several pictures.
I took pictures from many different angles.  He just lay there and made no effort to leave.  I moved slowly and as quietly as I could. When I finished, he was still there. Watching me, but not afraid.
I continued on up the reef.  Spotted the Turtle Rock to the SW, though I did not recognize it until I got closer.  
Swam right to the Ledge and hung with the fish.  Tried taking portraits by closing the aperture more and relying on the strobe to light up the subject. This White Grunt portrait seems better than the picture of the White Grunt getting cleaned above.

 I like this portrait of a Spanish Grunt, but the fish is too big for the picture.  I should have been back just a little.
 This portrait of a Bluestriped Grunt is a nice compromise with the foreground visible but the background blacked out.
When I got to 1000 psi, I headed down the reef.  Got this shot of a Barred Hamlet just past the Turtle Rock.

Had to hunt a bit for the Rock Pile, but I found it.  Hung out there will I got to 125 minutes and 300 psi and then I headed West to the beach.
 The 53 minute surface interval passed all too quickly and I geared up and got back in the water.  This time I swam out on the surface and positioned myself over the Rock Pile.  I couldn't see it until I descended, but I knew I was close.  I headed up the reef.  The Guitarfish was gone.
 I got to the Ledge and found the reef squid I had seen earlier.  I spent a good deal of the dive photographing those three squid.  
As before, I hung out on the Ledge until I got to 1000 psi, then went down the reef to the Rock Pile, where I waited until I was down to 300 psi to head to the beach.  Made 139 minutes. 

28 May 2014

Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

The ocean was calm and quiet when I got to the beach about 6:00 am.  I geared up and got in the water and descended almost immediately in 10 feet of water.

I swam East and after a little searching found the Big Rock.  This time I was ready for the Nurse Shark and got a picture of him peeking out before he dashed off.

I headed off at 150 degrees and spotted a Sailfin Blenny who was coming out of his hole to communicate with his fellows by waving his large dorsal fin.  I spent about 15 minutes first setting the exposure and then catching the action.  Probably should have recorded a video, but I didn't.  I did get a nice 5 picture series of the action and one very clear shot of him out and at the top of his climb.

When I got to the Little Knoll, I found the Green Turtle had come by again to get cleaned.  I also photographed a number of the reef fish.  I spent the bulk of the dive on the knoll.

I returned to the Big Rock and along the way found and photographed a small sea hare.

 It was nearly 9:00 am by the time I surfaced and got out of the water and took off the gear.  The dive was 131 minutes.  Water temperature was 80.6 degrees and I was chilled though not miserable.  Storm clouds had gathered and it started raining before I could dry off.  I hid in the cab, but the rain went on for 20 minutes and I elected to not race into the water to beat the Life Guards. I packed and drove home.

27 May 2014

Two 140 Minute Plus Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the beach before 6:00 am but took time to re-organize the tanks and change 2 O-Rings.  Then I had to hurry to get in the water by 6:30 am.  I dropped early and made my way out to the swim buoy, except I could not find it in the haze, so I surfaced to see it about 10 ft to the SW.  I dropped and found the Big Rock.  There was a Nurse Shark under the Rock, but I was not able to get set up and take any pictures before the shark swam away.

 I did manage to get this photo of a Caribbean Spiny Lobster.

Headed on a 150 degree bearing to the Little Knoll and I found it.  Always a surprise.  The turtle that came by last time I was here was back again.  I think he came to get cleaned by the little fish.

Got this picture of a Star Horseshoe worm,


 this picture of a Spotted Goatfish,
 and this shot of a Rock Hind.

A forty six minute surface interval isn't very long when you consider that it takes 10 minutes to just get out of the water, another 10 minutes to get out of my gear and change tanks, and then about the same 20 minutes to get back into my gear and into the water.  I had about 6 minutes to drink my coffee.  But the water was warm at 82.4 degrees, and though it is still 18 degrees cooler than my core temperature, I was not miserable during the dive, which lasted 140 minutes.

My second dive was a repeat of the first, except that after I found the Little Knoll, I swam out to the Porthole Rocks at about 50 degrees from the NW edge of the Little Knoll.  Got set a bit by the current on the way back, but I managed to get back.

I found this funny looking nudibranch-like creature and got some okay photos.  Need to go out with the supermacro set up.

I did well on air, 146 minutes.  That's better than the first dive by six minutes.  Water temperature remained 82.4 degrees.

26 May 2014

I make a early solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll and then guide a diver onto the Knoll as my second dive

Got up and got moving early this morning.  I did leave without my wallet and had to go back,  but just went around the block.  Got to the beach a little after 6:00 am but still before sunrise.

Geared up and got in.  Swam out to 10 ft and descended.  Tried to hold 100 degrees, but got set North by the current and had to surface to see where I was.  Found the blocks and headed up the gun sight to Irish Thighs, then the cigar, and then to the Gray Mid-way, over to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and then the Knoll.

Got photos of this Intermediate Gray Angelfish,
this Purplemouth Moray Eel,

 this Bluestriped Grunt,
this Green Sea Turtle,
Spotted a post-larval juvenile trunkfish.  

Also found an odd looking nudibranch.

Tight on air, but over 2 hours, just not 20 minutes over. Just as well, since I had a diver I was supposed to meet at Tower 17 at 8:30 am to dive the Big Coral Knoll.

Brian was at the Tower when I got out of the water.  He brought his gear, so I had him sign the releases and gear up.  We talked a little about the dive and his weights. He is muscled, but was wearing a 2/3 full suit.  He carried just 10 pounds and did well, except for once when he just went up, but I think that has to do with putting air in his BCD.

Anyway, we swam to the blocks and descended.  He had no problem clearing his ears and we headed up the gun sight to Irish Thighs, the Cigar Rock and the Gray Mid-way Rock, then headed North to the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and the Knoll.  He seemed to be doing okay on air, but I decided against a swim to the English Garden.  Instead, we left the Knoll on the Western edge and headed to the Fish Camp Rocks.  Saw a hogfish in its reddish mottled coloration,

some Glassy Sweepers
and some large Midnight Parrotfish.

Came to the Gray Mid-way Rock and continued heading West to the beach.

Brian hit 500 psi on the flat as we left the Blocks, so I had him use my air.  He wanted to be on my right, but the flag line was there because of the North current. We went slowly and it worked out.  We surfaced in 5 ft of water in front of the Tower.  He was tired, so we quit at one dive.  Too bad.

25 May 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

I had wanted to get to the beach by 6:00 am, so I could get ready and be in the water by 6:30, out at 8:30 and an hour surface interval before making my second dive.  So, of course, I locked my keys in the house.  Had to break in through the kitchen window.  Still, I got in the water a bit before 7:00 and swam out to the Big Rock, where I found a Nurse Shark. I could not get ready fast enough to get a picture before the Nurse Shark swam away. Went South to the second rock and then 145 degrees to the Knoll.

 Found a Goldentail Moray Eel on the Knoll and got quite a few pictures.  Hung out at the Knoll for most of the dive, but I did swim at 50 degrees and ended up a little West of the Porthole Rocks.

Also had a Green Sea Turtle come around to get cleaned.  He would swim right towards me, then turn away sharply.  Odd.  He came around twice while I was there.

This Queen Angelfish came to the West wall of the Knoll.

This Black Spotted Feather Duster was on top of the Knoll.

This Giant Anemone was also on the top of the Knoll, but the focus of the picture is the Squat Anemone Shrimp on the red sponge to the right.

This Red Hind followed me around for several minutes until I turned the camera and strobe on him and I didn't see him again.

I found this little Nudibranch on the top of the Knoll. Not able to identify it, but I only have the Humann book.

This Hogfish was busy chowing down and adopted his mottled red coloring.

At 1000 psi, I went back to the Big Rock with the current, ran down my air and then swam in to the beach.

The 27 minute surface interval was about 10 minutes getting in and 10 minutes getting out, leaving 7 minutes to get warm and drink a cup of coffee.  Great.  Second dive was much like the first:  I swam out to the Big Rock, descended and took some pictures then skipped the second rock and went 140 degrees to the Little Knoll.  Took some more pictures, then followed the current to the Big Rock where I ran my air down before swimming back to the beach.