07 June 2014

Leo's Mapping Project on the Little Coral Knoll

Met Leo on the beach at Tower 15 at 7:30 am.  We measured off 400 yards along the beach and then Leo did his free style 400 yard swim in 11 minutes and 22 seconds.  Luis got there to see him cross the finish line.

After a short rest, we geared up and got in the water to begin Leo's mapping project.  We swam out to the Big Rock and descended.  I took the 100 ft tape.  Both Luis and I had flags.  I did not take my camera, but Luis took his.  Leo and I began measuring the distance from the Big Rock to the Little Coral Knoll.  I held the end of the tape and he took the reel, so he would know when he was at 100 feet instead of just caught on a sea rod.  I sighted down the tape to see that it was on a 150 degree bearing and then pulled twice on the tape.  Leo would sight the tape, as well, and pull twice if everything was okay.  If we were not on the correct bearing, I would pull three times and then swim to Leo to work it out.   Same for him.

Swimming 150 degrees put us to the West of the Knoll and we shifted our bearing to hit the SW corner of the knoll.  I tied my line to that corner and we measured distance along the natural edges of the knoll.  Then we swam over to the Porthole Rocks and measured the bearing back to the flag at the corner of the knoll: 40 degrees.  Next, we attempted to measure the distance, except we missed the knoll and were well North of the Tower when we surfaced to learn of our error.  We swam on the surface to retrieve the flag, and Luis, who had already gone in to the beach, said that caused some concern among the life guards.  We however, were just fine.

It took a while to swim to the flag, however, and my computer ended my first dive and began a second when I descended to get the flag and then swam towards Leo.  I was just starting to the surface to see if I could find him when I saw him coming to me.  That worked out well.  We went back to the beach at a slow and steady pace. We each had plenty of air.

Leo and I decide to make a second dive, but I had a tank with only 2500 psi.  A shorter dive seemed just fine, so we went.  We swim out to the swim buoy and watched as a police boat come by checking us out.  The LIfe Guards must have called them.  The Police went by and Leo and I descended and swam to the Big Rock.  We then headed off at 150 degrees.  Leo was taking pictures.  I left my camera in the truck.  Spotted a baby Nurse Shark, which I would have liked to photograph.  Otherwise, we missed the knoll and wandered around, a lot like our last dive.  I called the dive early, even with my short tank.  I'd had enough.

06 June 2014

Two More Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll and my first 162 minute dive

Got to the beach early and got in the water with enough time to swim out to the swim buoy to descend.  Found the Big Rock and set up my camera and dive gear. I set the camera up for super macro and couldn't test it before getting in the water because there was too little light to qualify an exposure.  So I discovered underwater that although I had formatted the CF card, I had forgotten to put the card in the camera.  Just great.  I found the knoll and cruised around several times.  I swam 50 degrees out to the Porthole Rocks.  Everywhere I looked I saw super macro shots.  On the other hand, my air usage was good and I got 143 minutes out of a 3140 psi tank.

While I was on the surface for 44 minutes, I was not out of the water for 15 minutes before I had to gear up and get back in.  As it was, the life guard got there about 9:20 am, but saw me and sat in his car until I was in the water and almost to the swim buoy.  Thanks for that.

This time, I had an 8 MB card in the camera and I took some pictures: 247 of them. Just downloading them now, so I don't know if they are any good.  Once in the water with a card in the camera,  I did not see as many super macro shots.  Imagine that.

I did find some 2-3 inch Peacock Flounders just to the NW of the Big Rock.  I spent some time getting the exposure right and trying to get a shot of the whole fish, but with a +10 diopter on a 100mm macro lens that just was not happening.

Got lots of shots of Knobby Sea Rods.  I'm fascinated by the 8-point stars.

Got a close up picture of this Seaweed Blenny.

Got many more shots of Knobby Sea Rods.

Spent a lot of time looking for nudibranchs, but didn't see any.  Went to the knoll and poked around nearby, but otherwise just hung on the knoll.

Got this shot of a Black Spotted Feather Duster.

Took pictures of a few Christmas Tree Worms.

Also got a few pictures of Fire Coral.

At 1000 psi, I headed back to the Big Rock.  The current may have set me or I just wasn't paying attention, but I went by the Rock and had to surface to see that I was North of where I wanted to be.  So I swam back.  Hung at the Rock until I was down to 400 psi and then went in.  Came up at 162 minutes.

05 June 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the beach at 5:45 am.  It was still dark but there were signs of dawn.  I read for a bit, then geared up and swam out to the swim buoy to descend.  I moved East slowly and spotted the Big Rock, then set up my camera and equipment.  I focused on slowing my breathing and did well on air.  Swam 150 degrees from the Big Rock, but I did not find the knoll.

I did spot a White Speckled Hermit Crab holding his shell in a sea rod.

I decided that I had gotten set North and East by the mild North current, so I slowly swam SW and spotted the cushion coral, but could not remember where the knoll was in relation to it.  It was West, as I eventually discovered.  Spotted the little turtle I have been seeing here, but only the one and he wanted nothing to do with me.

I spotted this Spotted Scorpionfish and got the photo.

 Also got a nice shot of this Sergeant Major.

I think this is a Graysby, though it lacks the usual dark spots at the base of the dorsal fin.  Its tail and fins are too rounded to be a Red Hind, which is really my only other option.

I startled this Sand Diver, but got a couple of shots as it swam away.

 I swam out to the Porthole rocks and then back, but just the usual reef fish were there.  At 1000 psi, I left the knoll and headed back to the Big Rock, but I missed it.  I had to surface to see that I was a bit North before I could go back down to search for the rock.  I hung out there until I got down to 300 psi, and then headed West for the beach.

It was a little difficult getting out of the water after the first dive.  Lot of cross currents and undertow near the beach.  I moved slowly and did not fall.  Moving slowly cut into my surface interval, but things worked out.  I got back in the water at 9:25 am and swam out to the swim buoy, then dropped and made a repeat of the first dive except that I did better on air by 10 minutes.  Still took a lot of pictures, but only about half of what I had been taking.

Found a Goldentail Moray Eel on the knoll.  Must have been there on the first dive, too, but I did not see it.

This is a Sand Diver, but a young and really small Sand Diver.
This is a Red Hind.  Notice the squared tail and the straight fins.  

Like the first dive, I stayed on the knoll until I was down to 1000 psi, then I swam back to the Big Rock and stayed there until I had only 300 psi  left.  Then I headed to the beach.  This dive was 146 minutes, much better than the 131 minute dive time on my first dive.

01 June 2014

Luis and I dive the Big Coral Knoll and then Dive the Eastern Ledge off Tower 17

I met Luis on the beach at 8:00 am.  I thought about making an early dive, but did not want to foreclose the possibility of a 120 minute plus solo dive.  We decided to go to the Big Coral Knoll.  Surf was agitated, but the water was warm.  We swam to the blocks and descended.  Had to hunt for them a bit, but not bad.  We then swam up the gun sight, to the Cigar Rock, the Gray Mid-way Rock, the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and finally the Knoll. Drifted over the top of the Knoll shooting pictures of the usual reef fish,

like this Orange Spotted Filefish,

this Spanish Grunt, and

this Juvenile Creole Wrasse.

I spotted one Green Sea Turtle and then saw a second one

Luis and I went our separate ways to hunt our shots but kept seeing one another on the Knoll.

I spent a lot of time with the French Grunts at the SW corner of the knoll. Watched a small (young?) Porkfish approach each fish to inquire if he could clean their mouths. Some opened their mouths and some did not, but the energetic little guy would ask each one and then start again.

Also spotted a Bluespotted Coronetish just off the Knoll near Helmet head.

Luis had commitments for the afternoon, so we needed to cut short our surface interval. We agreed to first swim to the Fish Camp Rocks.  We went up the gun sight and continued East at the Gray Mid-way Rock.  There were a number of different fish at the Rocks. We spent some time looking and taking photographs.

 I took several pictures of the Glassy Sweepers at the Rocks,

and got a couple of shots of this Stoplight Parrotfish.

We  continued on to the Eastern Ledge, where we turned North and went up to the cut with the finger coral before heading West to the beach.  Luis spotted a Pederson Shrimp on a Corkscrew Anemone and I got some photos.

 Also got photos of a Three Spot Damselfish that was defending its territory from me as we swam up the cut.

As we got to the blocks, Luis tried to tell me that we needed to hurry to get to the shop before 2:00 pm.  I didn't have a clue what he was trying to tell me.

I was hoping to make 2-hours and probably would have done it on the 397 psi I had left, but Luis was in such a hurry that I did not even try.