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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Shoot to thrill

With the dark clouds rolling in and the sea state starting to pick up, we foxtrot oscared up the coast at the crack of dawn to make the most of the diving before it got worse. With macro lens and a will to dive, we had a rare old time this morning.
A reluctant banded jawfish
 The reef and wall were awash with all the good small stuff and some of the good big stuff as well, so there was plenty to shoot and not another diver in site. Perfect.
A grumpy sailfin blenny complaining about the divers on his lawn.....
A saddled blenny basking inthe strobe light
 Blennies, gobies, and hermit crabs galore not to mention some nice squat anemone shrimp, but unfortunately these proved impossible to get a shot of as they were too far into their hole under some coral. Next time.....

A rough head blenny actually looking rough after a saturday night out on the lash.....
There were also quite a few spotted morays out cruising along the wall, one of which stopped to admire it's reflection in the lens port before getting to close and bumping it's schnozz off the lens. I gota point blank shot of it right up it's nose but unfortunately it's a little too blurry for my liking. 

So here's a non-blurry shot just before the moray/camera interaction. Thankfully no moray snot was needing to be cleaned off.
"Mmmm...what's that? Looks interesting, think I'll rub my nose over it......"
The hawksbills were out in force today as well, parading up and down the wall and reef with gay abandon, unfortunately large critters and macro lenses don't always mix for the best so I got one semi-average shot of a nice big specimen before it dived off into the deep. 

In all fairness the priority was macro work today so I can't really grumble about having the wrong lens on.  The trick is to plan before hand specifically what shots your going in for and focus on that. There's always other days to get the wide shots.
Yea, go on, swim past. You knew I had my macro lens on today, you selfish so and so.....
About 90 minutes in, we had a Northerly current picking up as well as heavier cloud cover affecting the lighting, so we decided to turn round and get our stops in. There were some very nice little stareye hermit crabs hiding amongst the hydroids and sea grass which was too good an opportunity to miss.
A stareye hermit crab, all starry eyed in front of the camera
It's nice to get back to some semblance of normality after some heavy duty liveaboard diving. It's also nice to have all your kit dry before putting it on as well, which can't be said for liveaboards as slipping into a soggy undersuit is never a good way to start the day.......
Parrotfish caught by surprise

Friday, 22 February 2013

Rum, sodomy and the lash

Ok, contrary to what the title suggests, there was plenty of the first but none of the second or third, thankfully! This blog entry will be a little on the light side as I don't want to give too much away of my experiences as my latest article is on it's way to Diver mag for publication, so short(ish) and sweet is order of the day.

We had a great week motoring around Belize and made some nice new friends as well. The viz at this time of the year is not fantastic due to amount of plankton bloom but we new that before the trip. 

But what you lose in viz you make up for with a greater chance in seeing the bigger stuff. Sharks and rays where on the agenda and although not present in massive numbers there more than enough encounters and sightings to keep us entertained and on our toes. 

I did spot one hammerhead but it was a good 20m plus below me to get a shot and given I had the wide angle on, it would have been pointless but I saw one and that made the trip for me. There were a good few black and white tips as well as reef sharks about though, so no complaints there with the odd sightings of stingrays, dolphins, eagle rays and turtles.
A local passes by
Diving is probably on par with what we have on the island with the exception of the Blue Hole of course. But I'm sure given time, the Cayman Islands government will find a way to dig themselves into their own deep hole, yet again, but I digress. 
A stalactite, hanging around in the Blue Hole
Of course the one thing they have in Belize that you can't get here are nudis. Oh, how I have missed my nudis. I wouldn't say Belize is overflowing with them, but they have a damn sight more than here, that's for sure and it was an utter joy to be nudibranch hunting again, ably assisted by Chris, who had a keen eye for spotting the ridiculously small stuff.
A juvenile purple ring nudi poses for the camera
Night dives proved to be the highlight of the trip for me personally as the plethora of small stuff that was out and about was akin to being a kid in a candy store, with something new to spot every few minutes.
Big nudi, little nudi
Roaming octopus, foraging morays, sleeping parrotfish, scuttling king crabs and lazy lobsters were just some of the many things on display at night. Of course another reason for night diving is to be able to get a mug of hot chocolate laced with rum when you get back on the boat. A good way to end the day, liquid chocolate and booze!
A slender juvenile filefish out on the prowl
We had an opportunity to go ashore and visit Half Moon Caye Island mid week to stretch our legs and visit the bird sanctuary which proved a nice diversion from a rolling dive deck. With picturesque scenery and an interesting visitors centre, it certainly killed a couple of hours.
A toad fish in the hole
We also had a spate of inexplicable floods aboard the boat but this was confined to several cameras and strobes and no the boat itself thankfully.  Empathy was the order of the day after seeing camera kit corroded into a salty mess. 

It's never a nice thing to witness and your always glad it's not your rig. On a positive note, you'd then have a perfectly acceptable excuse to go out and spend huge amounts of money on a nice shiny new rig.
"Roll out the barrel (sponge)!"
With a visit to Altun Ha Mayan ruins on our return to dry land on Friday, it was an excellent way to round of the weeks adventures and excitement.  
"Look ma! Top of the world!"
 The Belize Aggressor was a well run and well organised boat and as good as any other liveaboard I've been on if not better than most. Cabins however are not the biggest in the world, especiall if you have two tall people staying in them.However the quality of food, vast amount of deck space and facilities available more than make up for this minor issue.
More deck space than you can shake a stick at
If you live on this side of the world, then the Belize Aggressor is certainly worthy of your time although coming from the UK or other parts of Europe, etc. it's a long way to go for diving of which you can get the same quality of in the Red Sea or Sudan but that's just my opinion and it's a decision that you'd need to make for yourself. Either way, Belize is a great place for some top diving and should be somewhere on your list of places to dive.
Juvenile arrow blenny makes an appearance

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sailing on the seven seas

Just this second got back in the house and I will be updating the blog once I get some much needed sleep. Suffice to say we had sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, boobies, new friends, flooded cameras, good food and my beloved nudibranchs. 

Stay tuned for more hi-jinx and buffoonery very soon!

"All aboard!!!"

Friday, 8 February 2013

South of the border

Apologies in advance for what will be a lack of updates over the next 9-10 days, as we'll be heading South of the border, down Belize way.

Normal service and regular shenanigans will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this brief intermission.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

How Nikon makes their lenses

An interesting little short film from Nikon and still impressive as to how much of the manufacturing/construction is done by hand.

Link: HERE

Monday, 4 February 2013

New $40Million Artificial Reef

Ok so the Iranians didn't actually intend it to become an artificial reef, or for it to sink the way it did for that matter but on the bright side the marine life has a new home and mother nature is quietly laughing up her sleeve.......

"Installing an off-shore gas platform can be a tricky proposition. Things can go very wrong. That's exactly what happened with this $40 million Iranian platform was being installed in the Persian Gulf. For as terrifying as the footage is,there were no reported casualties; looks like everyone knew how to swim. Still, that's a lot of cash going down the drain, and boy does it ever look like $40 million worth of pure, unadulterated terror."

Link: HERE