All personal photos are copyrighted. Unauthorized use of them is prohibited. Please contact simonmorley@outlook.com for any further information.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Superunknown

Another blistering day of diving with no current, blue skies and great viz in the water. On top of that the Greenhouse were also celebrating their one year anniversary, so congrats to them for providing good food for hungry divers over the past year.

It's all good
We decided to shake things up for a change today and cruise the mini wall and sand garden for the first dive instead of the main wall, and just see what was out there. There was a good selection of jacks and hogfish hanging around, not to mention large shoals of sweetlips, grunts and sergeant majors so we had quite a nice variety today.

Look at those sweetlips. The fish ain't bad either! Boom-boom!
And we did have the odd turtle or two cruising around as well so it was definitely a mixed bag creature wise today.

Hero in a half shell........

The best was yet to come however as the sun slipped towards the horizon and we got ready to get in for our customary night dive and the discovery of some new friends that we hadn't seen before.

Scuba cat provide last minute buddy checks and ensures the purr-fect dive plan
Night time is the right time
First priority of the day was to try and get a shot of the jawfish at the 6m as it was taunting me with a mouthful of eggs from the previous dive, unfortunately with a 30mm macro you need to be on top of them to get the best results and after 25 minutes of trying to coax him out of his hole, he wast budging. I'll get you next time!

However, just a little way off I found a really nice surprise of a sea plume shrimp on a sponge. It really caught my eye with it being so green (like kermit but without the hand up it's bottom), which was a nice find as I'd never seen one here before and supposed to be a bit rare in this neck of the woods.

Something new and exciting!!
We also found our usual sleeping turtle under the coral head, every night dive without fail, that's where you find it and for an added bonus we had a little burrfish buzzing around as well.


As the dive wore on the blood worms got increasingly worse and I must say this is the worst I've seen them yet which was a real shame as they really get in the way of some of the shots and ruin them, but there's not a lot you can do about it so you make do.

Blood worms aside, I did find a lovely little purple-ring nudibranch which we got some shots of before the worms moved in and obliterated the area.



But that's not all, we also had a second surprise from another new visitor in the shape of a sculptured slipper lobster which was superb. At first I thought it was a flouder with the flat shape and the fringes but then I noticed the legs. Very unusual and very nice, like a hovercraft but not as noisy.

If there were two you would have a pair of slippers........



I got a little bit of video of the slipper lobster as well but you'll see what I mean about the blood worms being everywhere. Lovely. Not.

For those without flash embedded, you can also see the video on Youtube: HERE

But with making a couple of new friends on the reef this evening and the nudis, it's difficult to complain.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Election Day

Okay people, the ten finalists are in for the PADI diving society membership card photo contest so it's time to get voting.

Link: HERE

If you're open to bribes, then please vote for the Stingray taken by J. Burley, as featured below.

Once you have voted accordingly, please email me and I will send you the appropriate bribe.

Please note that guns, drugs and small furry animals will take an additional 4-8 weeks to arrive in the post. Thanks :-D


Monday, 23 September 2013

Cloudy Skies

Rain, thunderstorms, poor viz, strong currents, it's almost like diving back home again! Except the water's a good 23 degrees warmer here so you take the rough with the smooth.....

The ever photogenic snappers and angelfish were out in force today along with the obligatory shoals of triggerfish and fusiliers although the bigger stuff was a bit reluctant to make itself seen this morning.


Still, the dramatic scenery and abundance of colouful sponges more than makes for any other deficiencies and adds an interesting feature to the shots.

Spot the odd one out.......
Switching to macro proved to be a bit more rewarding and not a little frustrating as I found a wonderful little pipe horse fish in the shallows but couldn't get the shot due to the surge, which was a damn shame. When you're exposed out in the open with nothing to brace against, you just got to roll with it, take the shots and hope you get lucky. Or unlucky in my case. Plenty more fish in the sea!

Lovely little rough head blenny posing for the camera
A fringe back nudi performs it's unique balancing act
With a healthy selection of blennies, gobies, shrimp, and nudibranchs, we certainly weren't spoiled for choice of what to shoot next. Although the squat anemone shrimps did make it blindingly difficult to the camera rig in close being in such an awkward position. Think playing twister with seven drunk people, that's the sort of position I had to resort to...............

Not an easy shot....
Thankfully the little tritonia hamnerorum didn't provide any such problems and was quite content to sit there and be the perfect model.


Unlike this bristleworm who couldn't wait to shoot off!


Friday, 20 September 2013

Rolling in the deep

Got a spare $35K per day lying around? you have? then you're in luck as the latest 5 man mini sub hits the market capable of diving to 3000m. The company is currently working on a new model that will dive twice as deep.

I know it's not quite the same as diving on scuba but haven't you always been tempted just to go that little bit deeper, that little bit longer and be that little bit more adventurous? Well now you can do it in safety and style!

Link: HERE


Under development by the OceanGate company since May of this year, the Cyclops submersible is a five-person submarine designed to perform a variety of underwater tasks. That includes scouting for mineral and gas deposits, biological specimen collection, and salvage operations, all for less than the cost of existing ROV platforms.

The Cyclops measures 18 feet long, 11 feet wide, and just over 7 feet tall. It weighs 19,000 pounds on land, which is quite svelt for a manned sub, thanks to its unique, 7-inch thick carbon fiber hull construction.

Additionally, the sub's four-inch thick full hemispherical borosilicate glass viewport is the largest underwater glass structure of its kind, and will allow the sub to initially dive as deeply as 3000 meters (9840 feet), though the company is also working on a second model that will dive to twice that. 




Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Love Sculpture

Well there will soon be a new addition to the sand slats just off the mini wall at Lighthouse Point. The same chap who done the sculpture of Amphitrite for Sunset House has also been commissioned to complete a sculpture for Jay and Nancy at Divetech.

It'll be unveiled at DEMA in November before coming back onto the island for the concrete plinth to be cast with sinking and placement taking place in January. With any luck I'll have the first pre and post sinking photos ;-)

Link: HERE

Standing 13-feet tall, cast in bronze and clad in Roman armor, the “Guardian of the Reef” cuts an imposing figure. The statue of the mythological creature – half ancient warrior, half sea horse – is set to become the latest attraction on the Cayman Islands’ diving scene. 

The sculpture will be sunk on a sandy flat in 65-feet of water where it will stand sentry over the reef off DiveTech’s Lighthouse Point site in West Bay. It will also be a literal guardian of the reef, with visitors contributing a dollar for every dive at the site going toward an ocean conservation program for schoolchildren. 

The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Simon Morris, the creator of the famous mermaid at the Sunset House dive site.


Friday, 13 September 2013

You raise me up

Well they're finally getting their act together and getting the Concordia off the reef and intot the breakers yard. Part of me wonders at the expense of it and if they shouldn't just use the money saved by leaving it there to become an artificial reef and clean up the environment and surrounding area.

 Link: HERE



The Costa Concordia will finally be righted next week in the largest and most expensive maritime salvage operation in history. The cost of lifting the giant cruise liner, which sank off the coast of Tuscany in January 2012, off the sea bed, has ballooned to £500million - a figure that could rise if there are problems, organisers admitted.

The greatest fear for environmentalists is that the ship will break up under the massive force needed to haul it upright. The Italian Department for the Environment have also highlighted the danger of pollution as thousands of tonnes of water inside the ship pours out.

The ship’s fuel has been removed over months by divers and construction workers toiling 24 hours a day, but chemicals and toxins from rotting food and drink remain.
Arpat, the Regional Environmental Agency of Tuscany, said it ‘will provide a sampling of the water in the affected area both during the rotation and in the days to follow, in order to identify the extent, the extension and duration of pollution.’


Monday, 9 September 2013

Losing Nemo

Losing Nemo provokes a lot of thought about how our daily choices impact Ocean conservation.

A group of 32 international animators affiliated with animation studio Mr Lee worked – entirely voluntary for 5 months – on an ambitious animation film project for The Black Fish, bringing attention to the problems of overfishing and the need for action to turn the tide for conservation.


Pretty sobering stuff.


Jive talkin

What did the fish say when he posted bail? "I'm off the hook!" Yes, I know, terrible joke but that's what the fish may be saying to one another thanks to the latest bout of technology to hit the water here on the island.
 
Link: HERE
 
Researchers at the department of environment are better able to track and monitor fish at spawning grounds, particularly the endangered Nassau grouper as a result of specialist equipment that allows scientists to listen in to fish chatter.
 
The equipment is being used by the DoE and its partners from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and the Darwin Initiative to identify fish species that visit designated spawning sites in the Cayman Islands. The data will determine which species, such as Nassau Grouper, and the number of fish that are frequenting the sites.
 



Friday, 6 September 2013

Trenchtown rock

Well we've finally got an update as to what Uncle Bob and the crew have been up to off shore the past week. A bit of exploring in the trenches and discovering some interesting critters by the looks of things. Some amazing creatures being found down there.

Link: HERE

Cusk eel swims by
"With a maximum depth of 7,686 meters, almost 4.7 miles, the Cayman Trough is the deepest area of the Caribbean Sea. It’s pitch black and temperatures are below freezing except for when they’re boiling, but for many creatures, it’s also a very comfortable home."

"Dumbo octopuses use their ear-like fins to help navigate and propel themselves through the water. The high-definition cameras aboard the remotely operated vehicle Hercules on the Nautilus captured footage of these deep-dwelling octopuses in the Cayman Trough in August. While Dumbo octopuses do not frequent the hydrothermal vents, they do prefer extreme depths."

Dandelion siphonophore, small and deadly

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Delicate sound of thunder

Well today was a nice surprise as the water was flat calm and the current was non-existent. Despite an angry cloud front creeping in with a trailing thunderstorm, conditions were generally quite good.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to the main wall we go.....
However with a lack of natural light, it was a little tricky getting the scenic shots that I wanted but you can't have everything. There were some sting rays and eagle rays cruising over the sand patches before the main wall but they were too far off to waste getting a shot on.


There were some nice big shoals of jacks and sweetlips mooching in and around the around the may cuts and barrel sponges not to mention the obligatory mass of triggerfish and fusiliers.

I was actually trying to get a shot of the arrow crab at the base of the sponges, but some diver got in the way...
After a good long immersion at depth, we headed back in a for pitstop and watch the sun set in preparation for the night dive. As we were getting back in the water, the clouds were pressing in and the horizon was ablaze with lightning.

Right off the bat, Jill found a really nice stareye hermit crab doing its thing, whatever it is that hermit crabs do. I shot a little video of it as well just for fun.



There was also a cracking little fringe back nudi racing across the hard pan. It gave me a real run for my money, every time I tried to get a shot the thing would do a complete 180 and zoom of in the opposite direction! I spend about 20 minutes going round in circles trying the get the little beggar to sit still for 2 seconds!

I eventually got a shot after it tired itself out........
About 40 minutes into the dive, there was a deafening roar of rain slapping the surface and flashes of light all around, the storm had caught up with us at last bringing a massive Northerly current. It was like someone had dropped a wall right in front of us as it was that difficult to make any head way against it. even the fish had a hard swimming against it, I kid you not.

Undeterred by mother natures light show and conditions we continued our quest for the small stuff, which included a fine selection of blennies and gobies.

Someone needs to take a brush to this little rough head blenny, he's got sand in his hair.....

We hunkered down behind some pinnacles on the mini wall to get out the current and to have a good look in the nooks and crannies. There was a really nice slate pencil urchin jammed in one of the crevices there which was hard to resist.

I just need to find a crayon and a felt tip urchin now......
There were also a great selection of juvenile octopuss to be seen, hanging on for dear life, one of which I've never seen before and it doesn't crop up in any of my books. I'm going to have to consult the experts on this one. But in the mean time, here's a common juvenile octopus that everyone can identify.


After 90 minutes with the current pushing us off to Cuba, we eventually decided to call it a night, but were treated to a very nice light show that was still going on as we got out out of the water.

I like the pretty lights......