26 July 2014

Luis and I dive Catamaran Beach

Luis and I geared up and got in the water in front of Tower 4.  We swam out on about 100 degree bearing for 30 minutes, then turned North when I saw the bottom go to 25 ft and then start getting more shallow.  There was a lot of patch reef and some larger areas of reef.  Some of the reef looked like the swiss cheese area in Lauderdale by the Sea.

Found some reef with "melting" coral.

We swam for maybe 40 minutes and didn't see anything suggesting the presence of Euro Jacks, but a friend had told me that there was a second set of Jacks North of the ones off the fire house.  We turned West and swam for about 15 minutes, then headed South along a nice swiss cheese reef.

Saw a turtle and saw a Southern Atlantic Stingray, but the Stingray got spooked before I got any pictures and everything after that was sand and backscatter.

I did get some nice photos.
 This picture of a Gray Snapper came out well.
I really like this picture of a Sheepshead Porgy.  The strobe was not too hot but certainly set up some sparkle.

Found a little White Speckled Hermit Crab in his shell in the bottom of one of the swiss cheese holes in the nice reef.  I pulled him out and got this picture, but I think now I should have moved him onto the sand.  He's likely already fallen into another hole.

I like how graceful these Juvenile Jackknife Fish are.  Don't see a lot of them, but this guy was certainly posing.

I was running out of ideas when Luis signaled that he was low on air and we turned the dive and headed West to the beach.

Dive time 126 minutes; RMV was 0.40 ft3/minute.

Turns out Kelvin was the Life Guard on Tower 4, so I went to talk with him a while.  Luis came to tell me he was concerned about the storm building to the West and wanted to get in if we were going to make a second dive, so we geared up and got in taking a 50 minute surface interval. We descended just past the swim buoy but kept heading East.  Came to that nice patch of swiss cheese reef and headed North along that reef.  We weren't really looking for the Jacks, but we were exploring the reef North and East of Tower 4, just to see what was there.

Lots of lobster.  Lots of hungry lobster.  They were everywhere, though looks like some poachers had taken a few, leaving what they didn't want behind.

This little Orange Spotted Filefish just watched me. They usually take off when I point the camera at them, but this guy stayed put even when the strobe went off.
 Nice picture of this Hogfish.

I like this shot of an intermediate French Angelfish. Usually the strobe washes them out or there isn't enough like to see their eyes.  This shot turned out well.

I tried to hold bearings so I would have some idea how to find things, but we really just wandered.  Nice easy dive.

Dive Time was 130 minutes; RMV was 0.37 ft3/minute and I came back with 634 psi in the tank.

25 July 2014

Two More Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

Got in the water at about 9 ft and slowly worked my way out to the swim buoy, then to the smaller rock, the knee-high coral, the counter-weight and the knoll.

Got some good (I hope) pictures of a small green turtle who was on the knoll when I got there.

He noticed me as I swam by and then he followed me as I went down the face of the knoll.  Usually, he runs.

 I then headed out to the Port-hole Rocks and got some pictures of a small Nurse Shark.  I didn't take too many pictures because the Nurse Shark was getting edgy and I didn't want to cause her to swim off.

I did get a couple of quick shots of the Red Grouper who has apparently taken up residence on the rocks.

I got lost coming back and wandered around for a while, then found the Dog Rock.  Swam 110 degrees from there and got to the knoll.  First time that's ever worked.

Did a short out 'n back to the East and found a pair of large Caribbean Reef Squid.  They were more skittish than the squid at the Big Coral Knoll, but I wasn't pushy and they seemed curious.

Got some more pictures and then swam back to the smaller rock where I ran down my air.  At 200 psi, I headed back to the beach.

Dive Time 145; RMV 0.38 ft3/min

As is now my practice, I get as warm and as dry as I can while changing my tank, then swim out on the surface past the swim buoy to complete my surface interval where the Life Guards really can't get to me. I drifted to and descended at the smaller rock, then swam by the knee-high coral, the counter-weight to the knoll. Just hung out on the knoll and took pictures.

Got this nice shot of a Bar Jack who was cutting through the schools of small fish that are all over the knoll.
 Also got this shot of the Graysby Grouper.
This White Grunt is trying to get the young Porkfish next to him to clean the Grunt's mouth.  He won't be successful while I'm firing the strobe.  
This Spotted Goatfish let me get pretty close for this shot.

This Red Hind was a lot less trusting, but still gave me a good shot.

Got some more pictures and then swam back to the smaller rock.

While running down my air prior to heading for the beach, I spotted and tried to photograph a small Flounder who blended in with the sand so well that I lost him whenever I took my eyes off of him. Fortunately for me, I could spot him easily when he moved. If you look closely, you can see his eyes, which are two bumps atop his body, and his mouth, which is just below the closest eye.

Dive Time 146; RMV 0.38 ft3/min

23 July 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Little Coral Knoll

Gets darker each morning and more difficult to plan for a 60 minute surface interval between dives.  Sunrise used to be at 6:30 am, but is not 6:42 am and getting later by about 1 minute per day. Anyway, I get in the water a little after high tide and creep out to the swim buoy and the Big Rock.  The current sets me and I find a different Big Rock to the Northeast of the one I wanted.  Not a big issue, I don't discover the problem until I headed South looking for the smaller rock and ran into the Big Rock I sought.  Lots of Lobster, though.  I counted 14 lobster on the Big Rock, when I found it. Also found a small Nurse Shark just swimming up for a nap.  I got some pictures, but they were awash in back scatter and I just deleted them.

From the Smaller Rock, I headed 130 degrees to the Knee-high coral and then on to the counter-weight. I went by the Dog Rock and then to the little knoll.

Found a little green turtle when I got to the knoll.  I swam with him a bit.  He came over to me and I just let him swim over me.  I think he was curious about the strobe.  Got lots of pictures, most of which were filled with back scatter.

Made a short trip over to the Port-hole rocks and found a Nurse Shark there, too.

Got some good shots of a large Red Grouper who now hangs out there.

Just hung with the fish until 1000 psi, when I headed back to the Smaller Rock and then the beach.

Dive Time was 153 minutes; RMV was .37 ft3/minute.  

I was chilled when I got out of the water after my first dive.  The sky was filled with clouds, but the cab of the truck was warm and my towel felt so good.  I had a cup of coffee and a vitamin water and it was time to get in again. I floated at the surface to complete my surface interval once the Life Guard got to the beach. Then I descended and essentially repeated the first dive.

 Got this shot of a Blackbar Soldierfish
and this shot of a Cero.  I've been trying to get a good shot like this for some time.  These fish just fly by and I can hardly see them coming.  Getting two pictures was remarkable.
 This Red Hind is apparently now living on the knoll.

Just like this shot of a White Grunt who appears to be reading the riot act to a Hogfish.

I was using my air better, though, and made 162 minutes on this dive; RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.

Noticed a guy watching me swim in.  He walked over to where I was trying to climb out of the water and tried to strike up a conversation.  It's nice that people are interested and I would be happy to talk to him, but after I get out of the ocean, after I get my gear off and after I pour myself a cup of coffee and dry off on my warm towel.   When I am struggling to maintain my balance and carry the tank, camera, fins and flag, however, I would really like him to just go away.  

22 July 2014

Two Lovely Solo Dives on the Big Coral Knoll

Got to the beach early, but still difficult to get in the water before the sun comes up.  Moved slowly to the algae patch trying to get 10 minutes in the first 600 psi. Got 'em.  Made 32 minutes at 2500 psi.  Sun came up, but lots of clouds.  Still dark under water.  Went out to the reef and found the blocks, then up the gun sight and to the Big Coral Knoll.  Looked for but didn't find the squid.  Made several trips around the Knoll taking pictures.

Like this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt looking at me with just a touch of contempt.

This Blue Tang was curious, but cautious, as well.

This Spotted Goatfish is usually the ivory color with dark spots.

when he sleeps or gets relaxed, however, he takes on a reddish hue.

Lots of these Christmastree Worms along the edge of the Knoll.

I headed back to the beach at 900 psi. Stopped at the blocks and then headed for the Sea Rod, but couldn't find it.  Went to the beach.

Dive Time was 141 minutes; RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.

First dive was long, so I changed tanks and swallowed a cup of coffee then swam out out past the swim buoy to complete my surface interval beyond the reach of the Life Guards. Got to 46 minutes and decided that was long enough.  I descended at the Sea Rod.  Swam out to the blocks and then to the Knoll.  Got pictures.

I found all five of the squid, but it happened quickly and I was low on air.  They were just off the Knoll to the East and came swimming by me to the South.

 Got some nice shots of this cooperative Bluespotted Coronetfish.

Also got some pictures of a Hairy Blenny with a Goldentail Moray Eel photo bombing the Blenny.  I didn't see it at the time, but caught it in post-processing. Another instance of being too focused on my shot and missing the scene.

Got some shots of this Yellowline Arrow Crab by the rectangular rock just North of the blocks.

Dive time was 160 minutes; RMV was 0.37 ft3 per minute. I usually slow down on my second dive, so I'm not certain what happened here.

20 July 2014

Solo Diving without a submerisible pressure gauge (SPG) on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the beach and set up on the Yellow tank only to learn it had but 1800 psi.  Switched tanks to one with 3234 psi.  Got in the water at 6:15 am. When I was swimming out, however, the computer was not reading anything.  I think the battery in the transmitter is dead.  Decided to dive, anyway.  Just like the old days, when I first learned to dive. I had to watch my dive time and be aware of my location in case I ran out of air.

Went to the Big Rock and then the smaller rock.  From there, I headed 130 degrees and got to the knoll.  Went by the knee-high coral, the counter-weight and some blocks.  Had a little excitement with a wave runner or whatever those things are called.  Someone came screaming by heading South and using my dive flag as part of his slalom course.  He made a wide turn, then came screaming back headed North and hit the flag and jerked the reel out of my hand as he went by.  Unfortunately, this happens fairly often.  I've even had boaters stop and try to take my flag.  Too bad the fat c***suckers in the red leather chairs can't limit their meddling to things that actually need fixed. The dive flag frequently poses a danger when shore diving and they should really let divers decided whether to carry one or not.  Then again, maybe they own stock in a flag manufacturing firm. That would explain a lot.

For most of the dive, I just hung with the fish on the knoll and took pictures.   Took portraits like this one of 4 White Grunts in a sea rod,

 this shot of a Blackbar Soldierfish on the knoll,
 this shot of a Gray Angelfish,
and this little crab on the knoll.

Got some shots of the Graysby Grouper.

 Even had a little turtle swim with me for a while on the knoll.

Made a side trip out to the Port-hole Rocks and took pictures of a Nurse Shark

and a Red Grouper.

Then headed back to the beach via the smaller rock.  I surfaced with my dive time at 141 minutes.  Without the air integration, I have no idea what my Respiratory Minute Volume was.  I just know I wasn't out of air yet when I got out.  After 103 solo dives this year, some of which were only 90 minutes in January and February, my average dive time is 127.09 minutes for solo dives. I am apparently calmer and more composed on my own.