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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Marlin Wins!


Link: HERE

"Not all the details are in, but apparently the captain began backing down on the huge fish, a common practice in big-game fishing when a fish is taking line. He puts the boat in reverse to chase the fish."

"One commenter on Marlin Magazine's Facebook post who apparently had some knowledge of the incident said that the captain fell as he was backing down on the fish at full throttle. The boat took on too much water and, finally, there was no correcting the situation."

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Worlds worst lens

And I used Olympus for so many years in both analogue and digital as they made some of the best kit in the world. Now you need to wonder at what goes through a manufacturers head sometimes when they come out with stuff like this. Why?

Link: HERE

It is officially the worst lens tested by DxOMark scoring 4 out of 40. Lets face it though, if your buying this to take any sort of serious shots with, then you need your head examined. Each to their own I suppose.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Seal Vs.Octopus

Here's a classic case of right place at the right time.

Link: HERE

"He said: 'I decided that I'd take a swim about 50 metres along the pier to see if Cecile was around.

'Then I saw it... the seal already had the upper hand and the octopus looked like it was stunned, as there was no ink in the water, it was not changing colour and there was very little movement from it.

'I knew immediately that this was something special and not the kind of event that you get to see every day."

Monday, 28 January 2013

A little's enough

Well gosh darn it, these Winter trade winds as really cramping my style. But never let it be said that we don't try. Lighthouse Point was borderline diveable this morning with a lot of surge but exceptional viz. 

As I had the macro lens back on, shooting was a continued challenge in the conditions but still managed to crank a few off. The secretary blennies were there for the shooting and it would have been rude to ignore them.
Conditions don't matter to this little fellow
Jeni reported that there were some juvenile frogfish sighted mid week by the engine block mooring at about 6 metres, but alas after a good old rummage around there was nothing to be found, then again they could easily have been off down the coast with conditions as they are.
Juvenile red stripe hermit crab clinging on to a zoanthid for dear life
The mini wall yielded very little today but large shoals of tangs, grunts and sweetlips were still to be found drifting among the coral heads. My favourite little diamond blenny was also conspicuous by it's absence today. Maybe he'll be back this weekend.
Spikefin blenny on a field of orange sponge
As we only opted for the one dive this morning we cut it short at 96 mins and ducked in amongst the cracks in the hardpan to complete the safety stop with minimal buffeting before bumping back up the dock ladder.
Red reef hermit crab
 Roll on this weekend and fingers crossed for no wind. Safe diving everyone!
"Why am I here?"

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Taste of Cayman

Today was the yearly Taste of Cayman event which allows you to sample and vote on what some of the best restaurants and eateries on the island have to offer. We bagged and couple of tickets and went along to see what it was all about.
Welcome one and all
You get a bunch of vouchers upon entry and the food stalls charge you X amount of vouchers for one of their samples, so a burger could be 4 vouchers for example. 

But obviously they don't give you enough vouchers for all the stalls, otherwise you wouldn't go and buy some additional vouchers with your hard earned cash. Once you've eaten what you want you hand over wooden disk at your preferred stall with the winner at the end of the day having the most discs.
Nope, I didn't try any....
We tried four different stalls before we ran out of vouchers but that was enough for us. There were a few familiar faces like Cimboco/Chicken Chicken, Agave, Grey Goose and Seven Fathoms Rum not to mention quite a few names that were new to us.
Irvine and the crew dishing out the corn at the Agave Grill stall
 Live music was on the go on a couple of different stages and the Caban food stall had their own steelpan player who was an absolute demon so I had to grab a short video clip of him.
One of the bands getting their groove on

Jill ultimately gave her vote to the Seven Fathoms Rum stall because they make excellent rum and they were giving away swankys. If you've never had a swanky (and no it's not dirty so get your mind out of the gutter), it's a traditional Caymanian drink made from limes, native sour oranges and brown sugar not to mention the obligatory rum. 

It's as smooth as silk and goes down like easy, worth making your own if you never make it to the island.
"Rum swanky, so good you need two at the same time!"
Ultimately I gave my vote to Agave grill because I'm biased. They could have been serving dead rat on a stick for all I care but seeing as they have the best restaurant on the island (which also happens to be Mexican and we eat there all the time), I felt obliged to give them my endorsement.
It wouldn't be the Caymans without chicken of some description.....
And to round it all off there were the obligatory fireworks and loud explosions making the cats hide behind the toaster in the kitchen. The end to a perfect day.

All creatures great and small

Well another attempt to get to my favourite place for macro again proved to be a bust thanks again to the weather with a 12 knot Easterly. I wasn't looking forward to the alternative site as it has never had a good track record for the small stuff but as it turns out I was very pleasantly surprised.

Right off the bat we had a nice yellow stingray cruising around at the entry point but he wasn't one for sitting still to get a decent shot of but no complaining, it was still nice to see one.
"Sit still !!"
We spent just over 3 hours in the water working between 5 and 15 metres looking for some juicy shots. I found several juvenile drum fish dotted all over the place but I just couldn't get a decent shot as they were hiding in recesses and just moving way too fast to track.

I was checking out a brain coral and was about to move off when I had a second look at what I thought was a clump of sand stuck on it. Turns out it was a juvenile sun anemone shrimp which is a bit rare here. It was bloody tiny, about 4-5mm and the surge wasn't helping either but I think I got a good shot, I love the translucent back end, the strobe light just went right through it.
Small and perfectly formed
So that was the main excitement on the dive for me but there was still plenty of other nice stuff to see. I did find the smallest bearded fireworm in the world hanging around on a zoanthid but as I'm not 100% happy with the shot, I wont put it on here. It was even smaller than the sun anemone shrimp. 

I found that I hadn't lost my well deserved reputation as the lobster whisperer as several large spiny lobsters heeded my summons and came forth to do my bidding. And pose for a picture or two as well.
Spiny lobster getting intimate with the camera
Now you know how I love my nudis and that there is an absolute dearth of them on this island, so I was squealing like a little girl when I found the mother of all lettuce sea slugs (which is good as it gets here). 

It was a monster, easily touching close to 3 inches and as always had to be in the most awkward position imaginable, so I had to get jammed upside down in a crevice just to get the shot. Again, not my best but it was a whopper and worth the effort.
Truly a behemoth in the slug world
I think another 8-10 hours with the new lens will allow me to get it dialled in properly before I need to head off to Belize in a couple of weeks time. Heaven forbid I miss any nudibranch shots whilst I'm there!
This cleaning goby knows the dive site like the back of my hand. Ho ho!
The current started it picking up in the last quarter of the dive so we had a nice little drift back down the reef with the odd check in the nooks and crannies to see what we could see. There was a nice red reef hermit crab sitting on some sponge so I thought it would be rude not to grab a shot of it.
Lovely vivid colour
And the old standby favourite of a juvenile goldentail moray was peeking out from under a coral head so I bagged a quick shot of him too.
Look into my eye......
I clocked some video footage as well just for fun, but it's not great as the AF on the new lens doesn't react super fast to fidgety subjects so ignore the constant focusing. :-P

So today started with minimal expectations but ended on on the upside after a couple of lucky finds. Given that it's bank holiday here on Monday, it'll be another excuse to get back in the water although with the current forecast, I might end up doing a couple of laps around the bathtub instead.....

Safe diving!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dolphin Rescue

This is your "feel good" video of the day. If only everyone was more responsible for the oceans and it's inhabitants, then there wouldn't be any need to see these magnificent creatures in distress.

"This video of a dolphin in need is really something on so many levels.
It turns out that the dolphin had fishing line and a hook stuck on one of its fins, so it approached a group of divers who were watching manta rays at night near Kona, Hawaii. Fortunately one of the professional divers was able to help remove some of the fishing line that was restricting the movement of the dolphin, though in the end they were unable to remove the hook."

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Gimme shelter

Well today was a complete wipeout, literally. I planned at getting some macro work done this morning as the weather reports were favourable but once we got to the dive site, it was a no go with the waves crashing over the dock. 

We went with our back up dive site, which is fantastic for wide angle but pants for macro work, but what can you do?
Vibrant christmas tree worm
The surge was very bad and we seemed to get bounced off of every rock on the East coat of the island. It's going to hurt tomorrow.....
Flamingo tongue cowrie with growth on it's back. Probably want to get that looked at.....
The larger shoals triggerfish, sweetlips, grunts and tangs were more than happy to mooch around and feed on everything being kicked up off the bottom but it was making it near impossible to get a half decent shot. 

A steady hand is the key to macro, not washing machine conditions, so I'm grateful I got the shots I did.
Rough head blenny, sensibly staying in its hole
Maybe next week will favour us with better conditions, we can only hope so because this winter weather is becoming a right old a*se-ache!
Saddled blenny looking for cover
Still, I could be diving in 3 degree water and driving snow right now if I'd stayed in Scotland so I'll just need to learn to take the rough with the smooth.
Nice bristle worm shot I managed to get whilst bouncing past off the rocks at 4 metres
As it's only about 3 weeks till we head to Belize, I'll just make do for now. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.
And one final shot of a christmas tree worm to end the dive on

Saturday, 19 January 2013

True facts about seahorses

More true facts, this time about seahorses. OK, not true, but still funny. Enjoy

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Now here's an awesome post from LensRentals. They strip down three 24-70mm lenses to see what makes them tick and to compare them. Link HERE

"We’ve been doing a lot of teardowns lately and I’ve made comments like “well thought out” or “carefully engineered.” Several people have asked me to show them some comparisons so they can see what I’m talking about. Given that we have fairly modern releases of 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses from several manufacturers, we thought it would make sense to compare what the insides look like."

Well worth a read if you've ever had any sort of curiosity of how lenses are constructed and more importantly, torn apart! Don't try this at home kids.......

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stop the turtle farming

The Ecologist have just released an update video on the turtle farm here on Cayman. If you haven't seen it, then please watch it and then click on the link to add your voice to the growing number of people who want the barbaric practice of turtle farming stopped.

Video: HERE

We've been trying for some time to keep pressure on the turtle farm to at the very least, care for the turtles in a decent and humane way in appropriate conditions but so far this has fallen on deaf ears, despite various independent reports highlighting the failings of the farm and the appalling conditions the turtles are kept in.

This is on top of the farm losing millions of dollars each year (7.9 million in 2011) as well as dumping pollutants into the ocean, so if you only do one good thing today, then sign the petition and put an end to the farce.

" Alongside the film and the campaign by the world society for the protection of animals, whose own damning report alleged overcrowding, disease, injury, poor husbandry conditions and a catalogue of other problems, some UK MPS have also filed a motion in the British parliament with the backing of some 65 members from across the political spectrum, calling for action on the WSPA findings."

Please visit the WSPA website HERE and add your voice to the thousands of others that want to put an end to the suffering of these wonderful creatures.

Please spread the word because we can't do this alone.

Message in a bottle

Mmmm... .I missed this one. Quite a novel twist on underwater communication using bone conduction without the requirement for a full face mask. Not guaranteed to reproduce speech 100% perfectly but intriguing none the less. 

I've used bone conduction comms at surface but this is the first time I've seen it put to practical use on a wide scale underwater, especially if it's at the right price.

I'm also surprised that it's from Casio. I always remember them for making calculators when I was a lad at school.

"Main Features
– Wireless communications enabled by ultrasound and bone conduction technologies
The Logosease employs an ultrasound range of 32 kilohertz to enable wireless communication between users within visual range underwater. Multiple divers can each wear a transceiver and enjoy conversing in a group. The microphone and speaker employ a bone conduction method, and the reception and transmission modes can be switched by lightly tapping the device once."

Link: HERE

Monday, 7 January 2013

The sleeping giant

This is amazing. Imagine seeing one of these coming at you? I'd definitely fill my wetsuit/drysuit (delete where applicable). It would make for some awesome picture though.It was caught on film in the Pacific for the first time ever.

Link: HERE

And updated with video footage below.

"This amazing sea creature is an Architeuthis. Or a Kraken, as the ancient vikings used to call it. We knew the kraken wasn't a mythical creature. Giant squids like this have been captured in the past, usually near the sea's surface, but this is the first time one has been filmed alive in the wild, majestically swimming at 2,066 feet underwater."

It'll be appearing on Discovery as part of their Curiosity series. Definitely one to watch!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

I believe in miracles

Well who'd have thought it? With the wind being so....well, you know....windy, we didn't expect to be back in the water the second day on the trot. To be honest, we weren't expecting too much but with the wind at it's lowest point at 7am this morning, we took a gamble which paid off. 

It was reasonably flat at the surface with minor little swell surprisingly enough. There was still a strong NE current and lots of particulate but it was better than yesterday so it was wide angle all the way today baby, yeah!

And what was also surprising was how quite the dive site was today. Car park was empty, everything was shut, I was expecting more tourists to be here over the holiday period, but you won't here me complaining!
Sunrise over Sunset House
We did our usual circuit of Aphitrite before making a stop on the Nicholson to spend some time with our ever present shoal of friendly snappers. 
Even Amphitrite has put on a few pounds over the Christmas period.......
I swear they have a sixth sense built in as they always seem to know when we're coming so they're ready to nudge my elbow or swim under my arms when I'm taking a shot, the little scamps. Like uncontrollable puppies. I think I'll be taking a leash and a rolled up newspaper in with me next time!
The stern of the Nicholson awash with colour. And snappers.
I also remembered to shoot a little video of this great little wreck with all of our fishy friends harassing the poor old photographer!. And yes, I did forget I was shooting on my side for the first couple of seconds.

Jill escapes the Nicholson before being overrun by a horde of rampaging friendly fish.
As the current was shoving us Southward, we pushed out over the drop off to see if we could catch a turtle or ray or two, but no luck today. We just had to settle for the spectacularly colourful sponges and corals peppered with shoals of triggerfish, basslets, tangs and sweetlips. What a hard life.....
Wicked colour and shapes. Looks like someone tied it into a ribbon of rainbows.
After scouring the depths and checking out into the blue we carried on South down the wall and cut back over the the garden eels who seemed quite content to wave around in the current and get a good feed on the particulate whizzing past.
Lovely pink anemone, all it needs is a clown fish or two.....
With our bottom time closing in, we had a nice drift in the shallows to see if we could spot any small stuff. There was certainly the odd gobie and christmas tree worm but I've never thought of Sunset house as a major dive site for macro work. 

I've no doubt you could get some nice macro shots (I've done so in the past), but for me, it's definitely all about the wide angle at this dive site. And really, with the colours and scenery that they have going on here, there's not much to be unhappy about.
Jill creeps up on the chromis and grunts
With any luck the weather will hold and we'll be jumping off a perfectly good boat in the next week or two, so fingers crossed.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Catch a wave

Well the customary New Years Day dive didn't happen due to high winds and with today being decidedly touch and go, we decided to check out Lighthouse Point and make a decision when we got there. It wasn't great but it was better than it had been all week.
The waves start crashing on shore
The surface was lumpier than a bag of spanners with a Northerly current that pushing so hard even the fish had problems swimming, no joke. There was a big old barracuda having a hard time staying trying to stay stationary as we got in. Needless to say that today wasn't the day to get some quality shots and macro work was pretty much a bust.
Flamingo tongue cowrie hanging on for grim death......
We had to work hard to make headway up the mini wall, using every bit of cover we could find. I had a trail of snappers following behind me, using me for cover, the cheeky swines.
"When will the weather get better?"
There were some some nice big old lobsters mooching around with the odd scrawled filefish darting from pinnacle to pinnacle, but the viz was making a mockery of us today.
Sensibly sheltered
We pushed on up the wall for another as far as we could before we turned and had a great drift back down. Just like being back on Cozumel. I did catch a nice hermit crab sitting on a sponge but it was right out in the current so we were both struggling to keep stationary. I didn't get the shot I would have liked. Next time though.
I'll be back for you next time........
We decided to knock it on the head after 71 mins. as the current and viz were getting worse, which was a real shame but as my granny always said, there's always another day for a dive.
A final blennie before getting out
Not a great day with not a lot to show for it, but hey, you make make do. After all tomorrow is another day. Dive safe.