14 June 2014

A Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll, A Dive working on Leo's Mapping Project and A Dive with Camera that Ended Early

Got to the beach by 5:40.  Geared up using 8 pounds of weight and swam out to the swim buoy, where I descended and looked for the Big Rock.

Got some pictures of lobster at the Rock.

I tied to take some portraits of White Grunts and Ocean Surgeonfish on the Big Rock, but the area was teeming with juveniles and I couldn't get a clear shot.
  From the Rock I headed 140 degrees, which put me right on the tipped over coral head at the knoll.  I took lots of shots of White Grunts.  They gleam in the strobe.  
Also got shots of a Red Hind, a Graysby and what could have been a Rock Hind.
Saw several Gray Angelfish and took this photograph.

 Got a few shots of this Juvenile Dusky Damselfish.
 Got this shot of a Green Sea Turtle as I was heading back to the beach.

Leo was treading water when I got back to the beach.  He took the flag for me and we headed back to the truck to discuss the Mapping Project.  Luis was at the beach as well, and after I warmed up we geared up to complete Leo's Mapping Project.  We swam out to the Big Rock and descended.  Leo and I were set to measure and map, but Luis took his camera. We headed off at 140 degrees but somehow we just picked the SW corner of the knoll.  Leo ran measurements around the knoll and then we just looked at the fish.  Luis found a Sea Hare. I wanted to measure from the tipped coral head in the NW corner of the knoll to the Big Rock, but Leo wanted to know the reciprocal and I gave him bad information.  We ended up about 20 degrees off, which I recognized when I looked at our second measurement.  so we rolled up the tape and just swam in.  Only a 98 minute dive, but we were working.

Leo and I decided that we could measure from the NW corner back to the Big Rock and carry our cameras too. I gave up the hood and the long sleeve shirt, going, instead, with a sleeveless 1.5 mm vest and shorts. It was cooler but also freer.  I was less buoyant, too. Thinking about going to 6 pounds. I got several pictures of a Planehead Filefish as we headed towards the knoll.

 My Suunto gave me a Tissue Level warning after my second dive.  I tried to take a long surface interval. Nevertheless, 20 minutes into the dive my computer was having a fit about my nitrogen load.  I tried to signal the problem to Leo, but we went up so I could explain it.  I took the flag back to the beach since both Leo and Luis carry sausages.  It was a very short third dive for me, but I didn't get bent.  I liked that part.

13 June 2014

Two Shorter Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the beach early and geared up.  Got in and had time to swim out to the Big Rock before descending. Dropped quickly, suggesting I am too heavy with 10 pounds.

There was a Nurse Shark sleeping under the rock and I got several shots.  I left, be it stayed.  The way it should be.

I swam South a bit and found a pair of Seminole Gobys.

Got several pictures, though they are a bit more skittish than the Blue Gobys.

Then I continued at what I hoped would be 150 degrees and found the Dog Rock.  Got some pictures of a Blue Tang with White Stripes. At first I thought it was some mutation, but I watched as the white stripes disappeared and it turned back into the Blue Tang I am used to seeing.

Headed almost 90 degrees and found the knoll. Watched a small turtle swim away as I swam up. Checked out the knoll and then went slowly East to the Cushion Coral.  Explored there for a bit and got this photo of a Spotted Goatfish, then I went West back to the knoll.

I searched a Giant Anemone for Squat Anemone Shrimp but could not find any.  About 6 ft away, however, I spotted this guy in from of an opening in the coral. I got the shot.

Hung around until I was at 1000 psi and then went 330 degrees back to the Big Rock. The Nurse Shark was still there, but I stayed away.  Got to 120 minutes and then went West to the beach Total dive was 126 minutes.   Last Tuesday I did 144 minutes on a tank with even less pressure.

Warmed up when I got out after my first dive.  Decided to drop some weight and changed to 8 pounds.  Got in the water before the Life Guard showed up and I was outside the swim buoy when he came so he left me alone.  I descended easily enough.  The Nurse Shark was still at the Big Rock, so I stayed away. I did get this shot of two Porkfish swimming along.

I went South looking for some more Seminole Goby pairs.  Got this shot of a Hogfish, instead.

Turned and headed at 150 degrees to get to the knoll. Missed the 4 blocks and missed the Dog Rock.

I don't know where I went wrong and I did find the knoll. Saw the turtle again, but still too far away to get a good photograph.  Spotted this Amber Penshell on the Knoll.

Did better than on the first dive, but not like Wednesday, when I went 162 minutes on less air.

11 June 2014

Two Long Solo Dives Off Tower 17

Got to the beach in the dark.  Geared up and read a little, then it was dawn, so I got in the water and descended in about 10 ft.  Swam out looking for the Sea Rod but could not find it, so I surfaced and swam over it and descended.  Looked for baby squid, but did not see any.  No Filefish either.

So I headed out to the blocks.  Got set by the current, but figured it out and just swam South until I spotted the blocks.

I spotted what I think is a Blackringed Goby on the blocks.  I watched it move across the top of the block and then head down the side of a second block.

Decided to get some more pictures of the Blue Gobys to the South and to look for the Seminole Gobys, too.  I went more or less South and spotted this crab under a large rock.

While I was shooting the crab, I spotted a Sailfin Blenny who was pretty active with his large dorsal fin, so I got some pictures of him, as well.
After the Blenny, I continued South and found some Blue Goby pairs.  I did not see any Seminole Gobys.

Came back with the current in less than half the time it took to swim out.  Had to look a little, but found the blocks and then headed in to the Sea Rod.  Finally, I swam West into the beach.  132 minute dive, but I was cold and shivering when I got out.

I dried off, wrapped myself in the towel and drank some hot coffee.  The sun was out and I warmed up quickly. Changed tanks and got back in well before 9:30.  Swam out to the blocks to descend.  I headed East, up the gun sight to the Cigar Rock and then to the Gray Mid-way rock. Looked for squid, but didn't see any.

Swam over to the Perpendicular Rocks and the Swept Rock.  Got some nice portraits of a Sailors Choice at the Swept Rock.  From the Rock, I swam over to the Knoll.

Found a Turtle getting cleaned on the Knoll.  I got some photos but kept my distance so I didn't spook him.

I swam around the knoll and the little turtle came over to swim with me.  Nice.

On the back side of the Knoll I found a Rock Hind who was sunning herself on one of the large Rocks.  We played a little game:  I'd try to photograph her and she'd run and hide.  Some of the photos turned out okay anyway.

Explored some large rocks NW of the Knoll then came back for one last look before heading to the Gray Mid-way Rock and back to the beach.

This was my 77th solo dive this year.  Dive time was 162 minutes, a new record.

10 June 2014

Two Solo Dives off Tower 17

Got to the beach early and set up my gear. The ocean was flat and calm.  There was no wind at all.

The problem with the strobe yesterday was the connection at the hot shoe on the camera.  I had managed to disrupt that while putting the camera in the housing.  I like problems I can easily solve.

I got in the water and  immediately descended in 10 ft of water and swam out to the Sea Rod, which I found.

I spotted a Scrawled Filefish in the rod and got some pictures.

I also spotted 5 baby reef squid.  I wasn't set up for super macro, but these were bigger babies, maybe 1/2 inch in length.  I must have taken 50 pictures and only one came out.  Each of the others was out of focus.   At least I got one good shot.

I continued East looking for the blocks, but I did not recognize anything, so I surfaced to find I had over compensated for the South current and was way North of where I needed to be.  Fixed that and found the blocks, then headed South like I did yesterday.  I found several pairs of rather large Gobys just hanging over the reef and I got some pictures, but I used too much strobe and burned most of them.  I did not find any of the Seminole Gobys I spotted yesterday.  Maybe try this dive tomorrow, as well.  Get it right.  I turned at 1500 psi and headed back with the current, but I missed the blocks.  Had to surface again to find out where I was.  Again, I was North of my mark, but I found them when I headed South.

I spotted a few Juvenile Cottonwicks on a small rock just past the blocks and got some pictures.  There a several of these at the Big Rock off Tower 15.

Went back over to the Sea Rod to look for the baby squid, but I did not find any.  Too bad.  Still, a nice 134 minute dive with an RMV of 0.38 ft3.

I was shivering when I got out of the water after my first dive.  The Sun was out, however, and I warmed up quickly.  Had a cup of coffee and read a little, then geared up and got back in.  I descended just after the sand bar and made my way to the Sea Rod, then to the blocks.  I did not immediately see the blocks, so I started up and the higher vantage point allowed me to spot them, so I avoided surfacing.  That was nice.

I headed up the gun sight to Irish Thighs, but stopped st the Sponge to see if the little yellow crab from yesterday was still there.  It was. I tried to get pictures, but it was very difficult.

I continued East to the Cigar Rock and then the Gray Mid-way Rock. Turned North there and swam to the Perpendicular Rocks, but there weren't many fish there. I spotted this Orange Spotted Filefish and got a few shots.

I went over to the Swept Rock and then to the Knoll.

 I spotted a Green Turtle on the Knoll but didn't get any pictures.  I kept my distance and then headed around the Knoll hoping to spot in on the return trip, which I did.

  This time I got some okay pictures.
Did not see anything particularly amazing on the Knoll, but got some good pictures of the reef fish and found a little Arrow Crab on the way back to the beach.

This was a 144 minute dive.  Spent some time reading before I put my gear away and went to the shop. Feeling a little tired and unsteady.  Nice dive, though.

09 June 2014

A Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll and a second solo dive along the Western Edge of the Reef

Got to the beach by 5:40 am.  It was dark.  I spent 20 minutes reading, then geared up and got in the water. I descended in 10 ft of water.  I was on the 100 degree bearing when I dropped down, but I missed the sea rod and I did not recognize anything I saw when I started looking for the blocks. I surfaced and found I was well North of the Tower.  I descended and swam South and found the blocks.  Rested and set up the camera.  The strobe didn't fire.  I don't know why. So, I shot natural light. Went up the gun sight to the Cigar rock and the Gray Mid-way Rock, then  turned north to the Perpendicular Rocks and the Swept Rock. Tried the strobe again, but still nothing.

Went to the knoll and shot using natural light.  Got this shot of a Star Horseshoe Worm;

this picture of four Ocean Surgeonfish and a Blue Tang.
 I found and photographed a Hawksbill Sea turtle on the Big Coral Knoll.
I also found this Marbled Blenny, which is the first one I have ever photographed and identified.
 Got this shot of a White Grunt hanging out in a small sea rod.
Got this shot of a French Grunt in front of a purple sea fan.
 Got this shot of a Porcupine fish swimming to me.

Made a couple of trips around the knoll and it was time tohead back.  I missed everything after the Cigar Rock, Dive time was 132 minutes.

Couldn't get the strobe to work during my surface interval, so I rinsed and put the camera away.

I swam out to the Sea Rod and descended right on it.  From there I went towards the blocks and this time I found them without going to the surface.  I spotted a Guitarfish being closely followed by a Jack, but I don't know if the Jack intended to steal whatever the Guitarfish caught or if they were hunting together.  Instead of heading onto the reef, I continued South along the edge of the reef.  I did not surface to see exactly where I was and I was swimming against the current, but I think I made it South of Tower 15.  Turned back at about 18000 psi and made it to the blocks by 1300 psi.  Stopped at the blocks and again at the sea rod, then headed into the beach with 400 psi.  Dive time was 153 minutes.

08 June 2014

I make a solo dive on the Little Coral Knoll and then a second dive with Luis and Ray Lawson

The first non-handicapped space was open at Tower 15, but the guy behind me, whose name turned out to be Donovan, had parked in the middle of his and my spaces.  I went back and asked him to move back so I could avoid a ticket while I dived, and he did so.  Then he started talking about The Father's glorious sunrise and I suggested that the colors resulted from water and gases in the atmosphere that acted like a prism and that despite vigorous protests from the religious wing nuts of the period, the flat earth hypothesis as well earth-as-center-of-the universe hypothesis had long ago been discredited.  He me about my belief in things I couldn't see and I used radio waves as an example, saying I believed in them because I had evidence of their existence, not just faith in their existence.  It was an amusing conversation, but I was late and needed to get in if I was to meet Leo at 8:30.  I swam out to the swim buoy and Donovan watched as I descended.

Once in the water, I swam  to the Big Rock and got some pictures of Juvenile Cottonwicks.  I then headed out at 150 degrees to get to the knoll.  

Along the way I spotted a Sailfin Blenny doing his morning ritual and tired to get some pictures.  Only a few of them even came close to what I wanted.

I also spotted these Christmas Tree Worms on a Great Star Coral.

On the Knoll, I also took pictures, including this picture of what I think is a Graysby with some cleaner shrimp in its opened mouth;

this portrait of a White Grunt;
this picture of a Juvenile Dusky Damselfish,
this portrait of a Sand Diver,

and this shot of a Yellowline Arrow Crab.

I left the Little Knoll with 1000 psi.  I found the Big Rock and breathed the tank down to about 300 psi and headed to the beach.  Dive time was 133 minutes.  

Both Luis and Ray were at the beach when I got back. Leo had sent me a text saying that he would not be coming this morning.  So I kept the camera and we all got in for a second dive to the Little Knoll.  Swam out to the swim buoy and descended.  Ray carried the flag. We found the Big Rock and took some pictures there, then headed off at 150 degrees, but the current had picked up some and we missed the knoll.  We wandered.  Finally, I surfaced to see that the swim buoy about 50 ft to the West and I went back down.  Using this new information, we swam over to the Big Rock and took another shot at the Knoll.  We missed it for the second time.  Luis complained that his compass was not working.  I think it was the bad visibility.  Doesn't matter.  We never found the knoll.

Ray ran out of air and got on my alternate air source and we just cruised on back.  He's really good about holding my tank or my shoulder and staying connected but out of my way.  As we were headed back in, a small school of Tarpon swam by and I got some pictures.

Dive time was 98 minutes and I had 624 psi left even after sharing air with Ray.