21 June 2014

Leo, Luis and I work on mapping the Little Coral Knoll

My last dive was 6 mornings ago.  The weather has been delightful:  calm, warm seas though the visibility has not been as good as it might have been.  Having problems with my tenant at the Bridge and was worried.  Diving would not have been fun.

But I'm ready to dive now.  I got to the beach by 7:00 am and Luis came right at  7:30.  Leo was his usual 15 minutes late.  We geared up, discussed the mapping project and what we needed to do, then got in the water.  We descended at the Big Rock and all three of us were taking pictures.  I left, it was just too much.

I headed out at 130 degrees, then a little green turtle came by and I started swimming along with the turtle.

Soon, an Eagle Ray swooped down on the two of us and I followed after the Eagle Ray hoping to get some good shots, but didn't.  I could not get close enough for the strobe to light up the Ray, so the photos are hazy and the details are not clear, as you can see.

By the time I stopped following the Eagle Ray and looked around me, I realized I was lost.  I had no idea which direction or how far I had gone following the Ray.  I surfaced to see if Luis or Leo had sent up their SMB, but I didn't see it if they did.  So I descended and wandered aimlessly taking pictures.

I got this shot of a Blackbar Soldierfish.

Then this shot of a French Anglefish.

 This shot of a Juvenile Cottonwick.

and this shot of a Scrawled Cowfish.

Near the end of the dive, Luis and Leo found me because I was dragging the flag.  They hadn't found the knoll either.  We looked a little more, then swam in.  I hung out to make 2 hours, but then I surfaced, too.

Our second dive went much like the first, except we actually found the Little Knoll.  Leo and I mis-communicated and he headed West to measure the distance to the little rock, which was South of us.  I though he might be measuring the distance to the swim buoy, but I was wrong.  Anyway, we got that straightened out and we swam to the little rock then headed off at 130 degrees.

 Luis spotted a baby Nurse shark and we all got pictures. The little guy was under a large, flat rock, which I was able to lift off the animal without causing him to flee.
It was, however, a repeat of the debacle at the Big Rock on the first dive.  Too many cameras.  Too may strobes.  Too many photographers.  Fortunately, the little guy just held perfectly still, enduring all the fuss without running.  I placed the large rock back on him and we swam off.

We swam about 10 feet apart, hoping to find the Little Knoll, and Luis and I spotted it at about the same time. I was on track for the tipped coral head in the NW corner of the knoll.  Nice.
We all drifted in different directions and shot pictures on the knoll  I got this shot of a Batwing Coral Crab.
 I also got this shot of what I think is a Graysby, but which does not have the spots along the dorsal fin.
I also got this shot of a Squat Anemone Shrimp on a Giant Anemone.

At 1000 psi, we started to measure the distance from the tipped coral in the NW corner to the Big Rock.  We tried to hold 310 degrees, but I think we got set by the current. We missed the Big rock and were North of Tower 15 when we finally surfaced to discover our error.  We swam in to the beach.

15 June 2014

Luis and I dive the Big Coral Knoll

Didn't sleep well last night and missed my early morning dive.  I emailed Luis and let him know I would be at the beach when he got there.  He came around 8:00 am.  We geared up and got in; swam out to the blocks and descended.  Took a while to find the blocks, but we did and headed up the reef. Up the gun sight, to the cigar rock then the Gray Mid-way Rock, then we turned North and went to the Perpendicular Rocks where I got this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt,

and this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt getting a cleaning from a young Porkfish.

 the Swept Rock, where I got this shot of a Blue Tang,

and then the Knoll, where I found the Rock Hind on the large rock on the North side of the Knoll and got some pictures.


The Rock Hind raced off and hid inside the Coral Head lying on its side, where I got this shot.

 We went over to the English Garden, where I got this shot of a Smooth Trunkfish.   Unfortunately, we got lost coming back to the Knoll.  I thought I was in some large rocks to the NW of the Knoll,

but I spotted the Fish Camp Rocks to the West.  Could easily have gone right by.  I got this shot of a Stoplight Parrotfish at the Rocks.

We came back over the Gray Mid-Way Rock to the Cigar Rock to the sponge, Irish Thighs and the top sight of the gun sight, then we were lost again.

The next thing I recognized was a large rock where Trish and Nicolaas spotted  an Ocean Surgeonfish stuck in a pocket.  He had gone inside apparently thinking he could swim through, but it didn't go through and he couldn't swim backwards.

Luis and I headed Northwest from that rock and came in right at the Tower. The dive time was 122 minutes and I was sucking the tank dry to get that.  Luis still had 800 psi.