19 July 2014

A Solo Dive and then a Beach Dive with Luis on the Big Coral Knoll

Luis is going to meet me for a second dive, so if I want a decent surface interval with a longer dive, I need to get in the water early, but I'm only 5 minutes early.  Unlike yesterday, I am not stressed by the darkness and it really isn't that dark or for that long, but yesterday it had been a problem.  I drop on the sand and slowly make my way to the Sea Rod where I hope to find baby squid, but I don't see them if they are there.  I continue on a 100 degree bearing and reach the blocks, then head up the gun sight and to the Gray Mid-way Rock.

Spot a Reef Squid just to the North and got some pictures.

Continued on to the Big Coral Knoll, moving slowly in a mild current and taking pictures.  Make a number of trips around the Knoll. No turtles.  Lots of fish.

Found a Goldentail Moray Eel in the rocks to the Northwet of the Knoll.
 Also found this Harlequin Pipefish in a hole in the coral.
Saw my buddy the Rock Hind and got some pictures.  
Also found this Stoplight Parrotfish.

On the way back down the reef, I find the same squid and get some more pictures, but its hard to know if the pictures are any good. Went back the same way I came. Stopped at the blocks and the Sea Rod, then headed to the beach.

Dive Time is 152 minutes; RMV was 0.36 ft3/minute.

Just got out of the water and Luis was on the beach waiting for  me.  I dried off and drank some vitamin water, then geared up for the second dive.  By the time we swam out to the blocks, my surface interval was 41 minutes, which was okay.  We descended.  The dive was otherwise a repeat of the first.

 Up the gun sight to the Gray Mid-way Rock where we found five squid and took some more photos.

Then over to the Knoll to make laps.  Found a Hawksbill Turtle on the North side of the Knoll.

Got this picture of a Spanish Grunt.

Then Luis indicated that he had to get back to go to work, so we turned and got to the beach just shy of 2 hours.  Dive time was 115 minutes; RMV was 0.37 ft3/minute

18 July 2014

A couple of Solo Dives to the Fish Camp Rocks

Staying dark longer.  I get in the water about 6:25 am and descend in 10 ft shortly after that.  I creep out to the algae patch and look for the Sea Rod.  I find it and I spot two baby squid.

They're about 3 times the size they were when I last spotted them on June 26th, but somehow they are harder to photograph.  They move faster and are more erratic.

Went up to the blocks and then to the fish Camp Rocks. Tried some portraits of Jacks.  I like this shot of 3 Yellow Jacks in tight formation.

Also found and photographed one Midnight Parrotfish.

Also found a little hermit crab.

Then back down the reef and I find some adult Caribbean Reef Squid and get some photos of the three of them.

Dive Time is 143 minutes, RMV is 0.39 ft3/minute.

Got out of the water and only had half an hour to dry out and warm up before the Life Guards went on duty.  It wasn't enough.  But I have to beat the Life Guards if I want to make a second dive, so I get in and go under on the sand.  I swim out to the Sea Rod, but no baby squid this time.  Head up to the blocks, then to the Fish Camp Rocks.  It's a repeat of the first dive.

Get this shot of a Sheepshead Porgy and a follow up shot of him without the stripes.

Just before the blocks, I get this shot of a Seminole Goby.

At the Rocks, I get this shot of a Glassy Sweeper.
and this one of a Scrawled Cowfish.

On the way back down the reef, I get this photo of a Scrawled Filefish who thinks he's cleverly disguised as a sea rod.  

Dive Time is 156 minutes; RMV is 0.34 ft3/minute.  Nice dive.

17 July 2014

Couple of Solo Dives on the Big Coral Knoll

It was still night when I got to the beach.  I decided to try dropping 2 pounds and carrying 6 pounds today, geared up and then waited for the first few streaks of dawn and got in the water.  Descended at 6:30 am, but it was hardly daylight.  Still, I could see enough to read the compass, so I headed out to the Sea Rod and then to the reef.  Found the rectangular rock and the concrete blocks.  Headed up the gun sight to the Cigar Rock and the Gray Mid-way rock, then North to the Perpendicular rocks and the Knoll.  Hung out at the Knoll for most of the dive. Got some good pictures, I hope.

 Really like this shot of the two White Grunts going mouth-to-mouth.
This is a good shot of a Townsend Angelfish.
Got lots of pictures of Green Sea Turtles on the reef and close by.
Spotted a Nurse Shark lying under the bigger of the Perpendicular Rocks, and I was able to get several pictures without scaring her off.
I don't know what this insect looking thing is, but I have begun to see several of them out on the reef.
My friend the Rock Hind likes to sun himself on the large boulders North of the Knoll.  She is getting used to me and the strobe, but she still runs if I get too close.

Left the Knoll at 1000 psi and went back the way I came.  Hung at the blocks for a bit.  Six pounds was light.  I could adjust with the air in my lungs, but I was always light. Dive Time was 143 minutes; RMV was 0.38 ft3/minute.

Changed back to 8 pounds.  Could manage at 6, but it wasn't comfortable.  Oddly, I kept floating up with 8 pounds, like I started breathing more knowing I had more weight on.  I got in the water at 9:25, but I only had 30 minutes of surface interval, so I swam out on the surface and must have been daydreaming because I overshot the blocks by quite a bit and had to swim back.  Just as well.  I descended and essentially repeated the first dive. The Nurse Shark was still under the bigger of the Perpendicular Rocks and the Rock Hind was on a boulder to the North. I went off the Knoll a bit to the NW and found a little Goldentail Moray Eel. Saw a couple of turtles.

Got this picture of a Stoplight Parrotfish.
This is a nice portrait of a French Grunt.
 Not certain what kind of a Jack this is.  The fins do not seem yellow enough to be a Yellow Jack.  The tail lacks the black tips to be a Blue Runner.

This Sergeant Major is also a nice portrait.

Did a little better on air.  Dive Time was 150 minutes; RMV was 0.36 ft3/minute. When I came to the surface, though the sky was Black to the West and North.  I took this picture, but it isn't quite as bleak as it looked on the beach.

16 July 2014

Solo Diving on the Little Coral Knoll

Clouds on the horizon kept things dark this morning.  I got in the water and swam out towards the swim buoy, but descended, before I got there.  Shortly after descending, I found a capped bottle with some dark liquid and a dollar bill wrapped around the neck.  Not sure what that means.  I made my way slowly to the Big Rock.  There was a Nurse Shark under the Rock, but I could not get the camera and strobe set up and get focused before the shark swam off.  No picture. Took pictures of other fish, then headed off at 130 degrees.

Got this shot of a Banded Coral Shrimp at the Big Rock.
Spotted this Blackbar Soldierfish at the smaller rock to the South.  Took a while to get the shot, though, because of all the small fry on the rock.

I swam past a knee-high coral head and to some blocks and a counter-weight maybe on the other side of the sandy area.  Kept swimming and should have seen the knoll, but I didn't.  Got to a large rock formation and gave up.  I spent the rest of the dive just wandering, hoping to find something that would help me find the knoll.  I didn't.  Got some pictures.

Lots of lobster on the reef.  Unfortunately, mini season is coming up.
This Gray Snapper looks like he'd been hooked at some time.

Lots of the usual subjects,
but also got some shots of this Trunkfish with a Shark Sucker attached.
The Trunkfish seemed annoyed by the Shark Sucker, but couldn't seen to out run or out wit it.

Dive time was 131 minutes; RMV was 0.42 ft3/minute.

Short surface interval.  Just got out of the water and had to get back in to avoid the Life Guards.  Descended just past the swim buoy and found the Big Rock.  Hung out there a while and took pictures, then swam South to the smaller rock.  From the smaller rock, I swam 130 degrees past a knee-high coral head and some small sea rods. On the other side of the sand, I found blocks and rope.  Kept going and got to the knoll.  Yeah.  Hung out at the knoll for the rest of the dive, just hanging with the fish and taking pictures.

This Red Hind;
This little Rock Beauty;
This Spotted Cleaner Shrimp;
and this proud Hogfish.

 I headed back the same way I came.  Two other divers were just getting to the smaller rock as I got there, so I headed down to the Big Rock and killed some time until they left.

Dive time was 141 minutes; RMV was 0.37 ft3/minute.

14 July 2014

Couple of Solo Dives Around and finally on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the beach early and waited for dawn.  Lots of clouds on the horizon, so I decided to just get in and make my way out to the Big Rock. I took pictures of the fish on the Rock, but it was a challenge with all the fry there, as well.  They insinuated themselves in every shot.  Finally, it started getting light and I headed off to the Little Coral Knoll.  I just never got there.  I ended up at some rocks I did not recognize.  I decided I had gone to far South, so I worked by my North.  Nothing.  I took pictures of fish and saw lots of concrete blocks, but even though I wandered around the whole dive, I never found the Knoll.

 Wandering on the flats, I did find this Bluestriped Grunt, who kindly posed in front of a sea fan;
 This pair of Christmas Tree Worms;
 An as yet unidentified Crab;
 This Gray Angelfish;
and this Juvenile Queen Angelfish.

Dive time was 135 minutes; RMV was 0.42 ft3/minute.

I read my Kindle a little during the surface interval, but because the Life Guard was coming, I cut it short, geared up and got in the water. I swam on the surface out past the swim buoys and just floated and continued off gassing.  When the Life Guard came, I went under.  I found the Big Rock and headed South to the smaller rock with the anemone. From there, I swam about 120 degrees, but I did not find the Knoll.  I think I ended up at the Porthole Rocks.  So I came back North.  Still couldn't find it.  Kept coming North and got to Big Rock, again.  By now, I have about 800 psi in the tank, but I decided to swim out at 130 degrees and see if I can hit the Knoll.  And I do.  Now I'm down to about 500 psi but I've finally found the Knoll.  I take a few pictures and head back.

 Got this shot of a Spotted Goatfish;
 This Squat Anemone Shrimp;
This Yellow Jack;
 This Yellowfin Mojarra;
 This young Sand Diver with his mouth open;
 and This Red Grouper.

I leave the knoll with 500 psi and scramble West to the beach.  I'm in about 7 ft of water just off the beach and heading North, letting my tank drain and I see an 8 ft Manatee swim past me.  It turns to come back, and I turn to swim to it and we meet in the middle like we are old friends, but cautious old friends.  She's ugly, but graceful.  Can't imagine what she thinks of me.  I get my camera set up again and try for a picture, but there is too much sand in the water and I can't get focus. Nonetheless, she watches.  So i stick my hand out thinking maybe she would smell it like a dog, but she brushes her whiskers on it.  By now, I'm on fumes and start to the surface and she goes on her own way.

Dive time is 146 minutes; RMV is 0.37 ft3/minute.  And I finally found the Knoll in the last 15 minutes of my second 2+ hour dive.