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Friday, 26 October 2012

Against the wind

Well hurricane Sandy thankfully passed us by without incident, but we'll be feeling the after effects for a few more days yet. High winds and rough sees do not a good days diving make.

Perfect weekend for a cocktail though. Wherever you are diving this weekend, dive safe and don't forget to turn your air on!

I hear the bar calling me....

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Brothers in arms


With an overcast and dull day ahead of us, and moderate winds and lumpy seas, we headed up to Lighthouse Point to make up for lost dive time over the last couple of weeks. 

First order of business was to get out to the main wall and head right as it's not often we head that way due to the current but today it was in our favour.
A great day on the wall
The place was absolutely jumping with life and too many photo opportunities to ignore. These are the times when you need a rebreather to maximise your bottom time.
Ever friendly snappers happy to follow you around
Some lovely coral and sponge formations, not to mention some fantastic little swimthoughs loaded with silversides, tarpons and jacks which was surprising as it's not really the time of year for the silversides.

But never let it be said that we were prepared to look a gift tarpon in the mouth and we had a great time watching the big stuff darting in and out the clouds of silversides.Great fun.
Feeding frenzy!
Unfortunately the seahorses were particularly elusive today, but the place was infested with octopuses. Normally there's one or two hang out here but today I counted eight in total with two just a couple of metres away from the ladders. 
The happy couple. Arm in arm, in arm, in arm, in arm.....
I lined up to take a little video clip of one particular octopus and he decided he wanted a shot of the camera for himself. 

It wouldn't have been so bad but he didn't even bother to get a picture with me in it! Selfish little tyke.

There were also plenty of scrawled file fish hanging around at the mini wall along with a lot of tangs, sweetlips, squirrelfish and the occasional swarm of parrot fish eating their way along the hardpan.
File fish. Lots of them about about.
We also had a lovely little porcupine fish that adopted us for the duration of the dive as well. He was bombing around and wagging his little fins all over the place. If I'd thrown a stick, I'm pretty sure he would have fetched it!
Like a little puppy dog. Except not as noisy or smelly.
If you looked hard enough, there were quite a few bristle worms and lettuce leaf slugs to be found crawling across the sand as well as the obligatory flamingo tongue cowries and christmas tree worms.
Slugs a-hoy!
It must be said that Lighthouse Point is by far one of the best places to go shore diving on the island. 
Christmas is coming. Soon time to decorate the trees.
The scenery is fantastic, you never quite know what you'll see on the day and it's so laid back, if you want to stay down for 150 minutes, that's absolutely fine as you won't get the staff hassling you to come back in so they can rush off down to the bar to get sh*t faced. It's that relaxed.
Spending a great day with friends.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Crying shame

And still in this day and age, stupid and greedy people continue to look out for themselves. line their pockets and screw the marine life. It's enough to make you cry.

A few weeks back we had the morons at Cayman Dolphin Discovery taking tagged stingrays out of the wild for their own aquarium and now we have the CTF (Cayman Turtle Farm) who have been damned in two independent reports by the STC (Sea Turtle Conservancy) and the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).

The Turtle Farm breed turtles not only for the meat but also supposedly to release a large number into the wild and keep the population healthy and thriving. However both reports show "photographic evidence and peer reviewed scientific analysis”, which revealed many welfare issues, including overcrowding, disease, cannibalism and unnecessary prolonged suffering."

They've made photos available which show the conditions the turtles are in and it's not pretty. Diseased turtles with no eyes, turtle carcasses that have been eaten by other turtles, overcrowding in stagnant, filthy water and downright appalling conditions.

"WSPA said it is not calling for the CTF to shut down all of its operations but to operate as a rehabilitation release, research and education facility that can still draw tourists. It recommends a shift away from commercial production for human consumption to conservation, but said the Farm should “immediately halt the inhumane public handling of turtles due to the animal welfare concerns associated with this activity.”

Until the farm can tend the care and well-being of the turtles in the long run, please avoid this place. If you want to see turtles, get in the water and dive or snorkel with them. 

There are hundreds of turtles all round the island at dive sites and isn't it much better to see them in their natural environment as opposed to diseased, disfigured and suffering at a turtle farm that can't/won't look after them properly?

Which do you prefer. This......?
Diseased, suffering turtles with no eyes
Or this?
Healthy turtles in their natural habitat
You decide because only we can make the difference.........

Hog Wild

Apologies for tardiness with blog update. It has been a very, very busy couple of weeks here on the island and I've hardly had time to catch my breath. Sat 6th October was the second annual hog roast in aid of the Feed our future charity.
The Smokin Bros contender......
With a hog head-to-head cook off, live music, cocktails and dancing on the beach, it was well worth the money to make sure kids don't go hungry.
vs. the Hew Done hog
 From the feedourfutureayman.org website:

"A large percentage of Cayman’s teachers regularly see children who come to school hungry because they aren’t getting enough to eat at home.  Teachers are among the first line of defense for students who regularly come to school hungry and will take action in a number of ways to address the hunger they see in their classrooms or lunch halls.  The reality is that on average many teachers are spending their own money to purchase or provide meals for students in their classrooms."

"Historical data shows that a large number of children in our public schools rely on subsidised or free school meals. For many children this school meal is the only solid meal they will receive the entire day.  The statistics below show the number of children who have been assisted with school lunches for the past ten years though it has been reported that these numbers are severely understated in that many more would qualify, if they came forward and funding allowed."

Basically in this day and age, there is absolutely no reason to not feed the kids. The Caymans aren't a third world country for goodness sake but this happens every day where kids are going hungry because their parents aren't feeding them.

If you can and want to, please make a donation via the charity website at www.feedourfuturecayman.org

The Smokin Bros. hog was the eventual winner on the night. Well done!

 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Captive stingrays returned but numbers still falling

Soon to be a thing of the past?
Ask 1000 divers or even standard holiday makers what one of the main attractions are on the Caymans and they will say Stingray City. But maybe not for long as local dolphinarium operators are just plucking them out of the sea to fill their own attractions, yes, I'm looking at you Dolphin Discovery.

What makes it worse is that the stingrays were already tagged as part of a scientific study but it still didn't stop them from being taken. It still beggars believe that in this day and age that laws are still not in place to prevent environmentally sound practices like this from happening. 

The DoE has managed to get some of them released back into the wild but some still remain captive. Whatever your thoughts are on dolphinariums and keeping animals in captivity, stealing them from the wild for the entertainment of others is just plain wrong on so many levels.

If you you ever come to the Caymans, please see these fantastic creatures in their natural habitat and I hope yourself, family, friends and fellow divers boycott Dolphin Discovery along with every other dolphinarium out there. 

The more that unscrupulous, narrow minded, money grabbing individuals interfere with creatures in their natural habitat, the less likely they are to be around for future generations to enjoy and learn about them.

Link:STINGRAYS RESCUED

Link:STINGRAY NUMBERS FALLING

Monday, 1 October 2012

One horse town

Well we definitely had a good omen as we left the house to get some quality bottom time in today. Double rainbow!!
Try not to lose your sh*t when you see this
We hit Sunset house at the crack of dawn to get the right light and avoid the crowds to work on some scenic shots and squeeze some wreck shots in.
Plenty of light from the surface helps to build up the layers
The fish were definitely on a mission today as they just would not leave us alone! I have so many shots of snappers and angelfish bumping the port and just obscuring Jill completely it's comical. Especially the ones that make her look like she has a fish for a head. I'll maybe post them one day for a laugh.....
The fish come out to play
We had to change up our dive plan a bit as we were kind enough to take along a holiday maker who had no one to dive with, so we allowed him to tag along. He told us he was very experienced and his air consumption was great, so what could possibly go wrong? 

Ha! We had half our usual bottom time and he rode the imaginary bicycle the entire dive. Lesson learned. Unless you've trained them, don't get in the water with them! I gave him some friendly (honest!) advice afterwards though, so hopefully he'll think more about his dives in future.
Lovely flowing shapes on the main wall
We then headed to Lighthouse Point as we had been looking for the elusive seahorses that were rumored to be there, but we had yet to find any. 

At his point, it was raining, cloudy, dark, thunderstorms brewing, waves at the surface, strong surge below and the bottom was getting stirred up badly. Like diving back home in winter time and I had a good feeling that today would be the day we find a seahorse.
After a hell of a game of hide and seek, we found one
And after about 20 minutes, I headed to around the 5 metre mark to check some potential hiding spots and I found the orange seahorse nestled in amongst some sponges. There is also a yellow and two black seahorses but they weren't to be found, not on this dive anyway.
A (sea)horse with no name
He was a frisky little blighter and was quite happy to gallop over the bottom to have a nosh on the greenery from time to time. I got a little video footage but due to the conditions, it's not the best in the world, but you get the idea.

There were another pair of divers in the water about an hour after us and had been combing the area for the seahorses as well. Being the kind soul that I am, I took them back to where I had found the wild stallion and pointed him out. I was their new best friend after that!

Jill found a nice big green moray having a good clean  at the rock pile and came and got me for some shots before it ducked back in. A good healthy sized one, probably about 4-5 feet judging by head size and body thickness.
A thing of beauty
Plenty of the usual suspects where out and about, mantis shrimps, jawfish, filefish, flounders, octopus but to be perfectly honest, the main focus was to find the seahorse and we did that with resounding success if I do say so myself.
Banded jawfish looking for some attention
One final shot for the road