16 August 2014

Leo and I dive the Clipper Jacks

Met Leo at 7:30 am in the South Beach parking lot.  We geared up and walked to the water.  We swam out on the surface staying on the 100 degree bearing with the edge of the Fire House Chimney in line with the black light pole from the lot.  16 minutes into the swim, I spotted the single Jack.  A group of guys in a boat anchored right on the tip of the Jacks, but we were close anyway.  Went East along the Jacks and back, then spent another 20 minutes taking pictures before heading back to the beach.

Ran across several Atlantic Spadefish during the dive. This turned out to be my best shot.

I really like the attitude from this Gray Snapper and the single visible tooth in its mouth.
 Its hard to get close enough to these Midnight Parrotfish to get the strobe on them.  Without the strobe, however, they look a bit washed out and the picture seems grainy.
 I like this picture of a Nurse Shark.  This one was truly timid.  We were swimming towards one another and when it saw me it immediately changed direction and got out of my way.
This shot is a Queen Parrotfish.
I have often tried to get a good shot of a school of fish but have seldom been successful.  I am usually shooting a 100 mm macros lens.  This picture came out surprisingly well.
This was an adult Spotted Trunkfish.

My computer did not synch with the transmitter, again, so I could not read my tank pressure.  Nevertheless, we turned the dive at about 100 minutes and headed back to the beach.  I hooked the flag line on the swim buoy and had to surface to clear it.  I swam in the rest of the way on the surface.  Dive Time was 128 minutes, but we did a lot of swimming.

14 August 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

Got down to the beach about 6:00 am and geared up.  Still took until 6:27 to descend.  I made my way slowly East to what I thought was the Big Rock, but it was on the other side of the wave runner channel to the North.  Current must have set me.  I swam South and found the Big Rock.  From there, I swam up to the smaller rock and then headed off at 120 degrees, but I got set again and ended up on the backside of the knoll.  I spotted the comfortable rock and swam up to the knoll.

There were two green turtles on the knoll and neither ran off.  This one was stretched out waiting for the smaller fish to clean him.

The other had been sleeping under one side of the tipped coral head on the Northeast end of the knoll.  They both came and left throughout my dive.

This Blue Tang posed for a portrait.

This Juvenile Creole Wrasse and four other just like him were swimming with the juvenile grunts.  I tried to get their pictures as part of the school, but they were constantly moving.  They left the knoll and went to a small stand of staghorn coral and I got this shot.

This little Sand Diver didn't appreciate the strobe, but he didn't move, either.

This Queen Angelfish was quite timid, but really wanted to get closer and see what I was doing.

I stayed on the knoll, but I did wander the perimeter looking for squid, just didn't find any. Headed back at 700 psi and tried to follow my bearing exactly and check on landmarks.  Hung out at the smaller rock for a bit, then moved up to the Big Rock and, finally, at 300 psi I headed to the beach.  Got to 167 minutes and still had some air, but hard to know how much was left. Dive Time was 167 minutes; RMV was 0.33 ft3/minute.

13 August 2014

Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

I got up and took the dog for a walk, then got distracted on the internet and it was time to leave.  I raced to pack my camera, my dive bag and get my drinks.  Got to the beach late.  I geared up only to discover that the computer was not connected to the transmitter.  I decided to dive anyway.  I'd just monitor my time rather than the tank pressure.  I actually had quite a long dive at 161 minutes, but I have no idea how much gas I started or ended with, so no Respiratory Minute volume calculation.

It was dark when I started and the current set me to the North quite a bit.  I missed the swim buoy and had to swim back to find the Big Rock.  From there I swam out to the smaller rock and then headed for the knoll, passing the knee high coral and the counter-weight.  Then I was lost.  I continued swimming at 120 degrees, but decided I must have gotten set to the North again and passed the knoll.  I headed South a short ways, then turned West and swam right up the backside of the knoll.  Hung out at the knoll taking pictures and watching the fish.

 Got this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt,
this shot of the painted face on a Highhat,
this shot of the steely eyed determination of a Sand Diver,
 this shot of a timid two spot Cardinalfish,

and this shot of a Yellowfin Mojarra.

At 120 minutes, I headed back to the smaller rock and finally the beach.  Took my time and still seemed like I had good air, but I was pushing things to get back in the water by 9:30 am.  Indeed, by the time I got out and back to the truck, those brave representatives of the Nanny State were on the Tower and ready to substitute their lack of knowledge and experience for my 50 years of diving. Since I didn't have a 10 year old kid to drag along with me, they'd prevent me from diving.  Save me from myself.  Cocksuckers, and I don't mean that in a good way.  

Dive Time 161 minutes.

12 August 2014

Solo Dive on the Big Coral Knoll

I go to the beach early and got a place to park.  Could have come an hour later and gotten the same parking spot.  I geared up and got in.  Had to hike a bit to get on my 100 degree bearing, but then I descended and went slowly East. I found and tried to photograph a Sea Robin but none of my pictures came out.  Couldn't get the strobe to fire.  Too dark to get a good exposure and the camera did not want to trip the shutter.  My computer was not reading the pressure transmitter.  I thought about turning the dive, but decided against it.  I would deal with these problems during my surface interval.  Indeed, as it got lighter, the strobe fired just fine, so I'm gland I did not get out.  Still had the computer problem, but I figured I was good for a 130 minute dive or more.  I'd just monitor the time instead of the pressure.

On the way out to the blocks, I came across the large shell I saw on the 6th and the 11th.  I still don't know what it is.

Once I found the blocks, I headed up the gun sight, past the Cigar Rock and up to the Gray Mid-way Rock. Then North past the Perpendicular Rocks and the swept Rock to the Knoll.  

Got some good shots of a couple of Green Sea Turtles that were hanging out there letting the smaller fish clean then and their shells.

Found and photographed a Goldentail Moray Eel.

I spotted and followed 5 squid. two of whom looked as if they were engaging in squid porn.  I don't know enough about a squid's anatomy or their reproductive practices to competently identify their behavior, but these two were spinning around and bumping up against each other with what I can only describe as passion.

Turns out that reef squid typically form male/female pairs to mate.  Males may copulate many times in a short period before they die.  The females are semelparous, that is they lay their eggs and then they, too, die. (http://eol.org/pages/455703/details). 

I also found a Flounder just off the Knoll.  I think it is a Peacock Flounder, but I really do not know.

I headed down the reef at about 125 minutes and came up inside the swim area at 153 minutes. Got back to the truck and my mechanical gauge showed 500 psi still in the tank, but I don't know how accurate that was. There was a screw loose on the transmitter, which looked as if it could have flooded, but I needed a 3/4 inch open end wrench and a phillips driver to find out. When I got home, I pulled the cover and the transmitter was dry.  I put things back together and it seems to work.

Dive Time was 153 minutes; RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.  

11 August 2014

Two Solo Dives with turtles on the Big Coral Knoll

Had to park South of Tower 17.  Geared up and got in the water.  Swam on the surface up to Tower 17 and got on the 100 degree bearing, then descended and slowly worked my way East to the blocks.

I found another of the odd large conch like shells, or maybe it was the same guy.  Still don't know what it is.

Headed up the gun sight to the cigar rock and found a Hawksbill Turtle there, but I was unable to get a picture.  I did get this photo of a Yellowline Arrow Crab at the base of the Cigar-Rock.

I continued to the Gray Mid-way Rock, then turned North to the Perpendicular Rocks and the Knoll.

I was early and there were three Green Turtles still sleeping.  Swam around one, who was stretched out to get cleaned by the little fish.

Looked for the small Spotted Trunkfish I found on Saturday, but I couldn't find him today. I made several trips around the Knoll.

Near the sea rods off the West edge of the Knoll I spotted several reef squid.  I followed them for a bit, but was getting low on air.

I headed down the reef to the blocks, where I hung out until I was down to about 300 psi.  Headed into the beach.

Dive Time was 145 minutes; RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.

It was almost 9:00 am when I surfaced and it took time to climb out and cross to the truck.  Drank a sports drink, then called Michael Hamaway, but neither he nor Tanya were in yet. I left a message and got back in the water for my second dive, before the Life Guard got to the beach.  The tank was at 3315 psi, but when I got in the water, the computer read only 466 psi.  I decided it was something about the computer and that I would just watch the time. As the 466 psi went to zero, the computer suddenly showed a psi of 2730, so I'm guessing my problem is the transmitter battery.

I spotted this Doctorfish and his Cymothoid Isopod hitchhiker near the Cigar Rock.

 I photographed this Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish on the bottom between the Perpendicular Rocks and the Swept Rock.

I found this male Dusky Jawfish just past the Swept Rock.  Notice that his mouth is filled with eggs.  He is aerating the eggs.

Couldn't find the squid, but there were turtles around. I tried to limit my pictures to really good shots,but the visibility was good and the sky clear and sunny, so it seemed like everything I saw was a good shot.

Headed back to the beach and hung out at the Gray Mid-way Rock, then the blocks and then went to the beach.

Dive Time was 162 minutes and RMV was 0.31 ft3/minute.