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Sunday, 28 December 2014

With teeth

Work has gotten in the way of regular diving activities during this festive period but I think we've broken the back of it now so it was good to get back into the deep blue on the East End with Captain Nat, Captain Nige and new girl (not captain) April with our friends at Tortuga Divers.

 Forcast for the day was a 6 knot NE with gusts up to 12 knots, which pretty much how it was with 27 degrees in the water which is the coldest I've ever seen it here but its still a little warmer than diving in Scotland right now (am I right, 633068?).

Nat took us off to the South side today to a site called Pat's Wall, which we've never done so I was keen to see how it would compare to our regular favourites. There was a mild Easterly current but nothing to right home about.

With a deep cut running out to the drop off, we skimmed over the top to avoid any traffic jams, not to mention that my camera arms are wider than a Vanguard class submarine!

There was some excellent examples of large fan corals all looking to be in good condition not to mention some really nice rope and barrel sponges sitting out on outcrops dotted along the wall.

Part way through the dive, we had a visit from an inquisitve lady in grey and as the dive progressed we had more and more of her friends checking us out, which made for some great diving even though it did push me right deco limits, but it was worth it with three sharks circling us and taking turns to get up close and personal with the camera.

The first visitor, but no the last......

After all the excitment it was a bit difficult to back to just looking at the scenery but it was still nice with big shoals of fusiliers, tang, triggerfish, schooling barracuda and jacks blotting out the top of wall.

We motored off round to Anchor Lodge which I vaguely remeber having done before but couldn't remember it exactly. It was a nice little shallow dive but the surge was picking up a bit which made things a little tricky shot wise with nothing to brae against and making sure the rig didn't bounce all along the reef.

Captain. Nat just prior to her performing her world famous triple forward somersault with a 360 half tuck whilst whistling the star spangled banner........

It was hard work finding the small stuff but there were some fine examples of gobies and blennies, particularly the female red banner blenny, but I am ashamed to say that my keen eyes failed me when It came to finding my beloved nudis, I just couldn't find one.

I also managed to find a lovely little shrimp sitting on a cup coral which made a nice colourful shot.

There were a few rays cruising around but they were all off in the distance which made for some poor off the cuff shots. Wrong lens for the job unfortunately.

And it wouldn;t be and end to the dive without the obligatory shot of the flamingo tongue cowrie and a christmas tree worm because it is the season after all. Merry xmas and hae a great new year. Safe diving everyone!!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The killer instinct

The incredible underwater footage being released just keeps on coming, this time courtesy of the Smithsonian who used a new underwater camer setup. Jump to 1.30 in the video if you want to skip straight to the good stuff.

"There's a mysterious predator lurking in the depths of Australia's wild Southern Ocean, a beast that savagely devoured a great white shark in front of cinematographer David Riggs 11 years ago. Riggs's obsession to find the killer leads him to an aquatic battle zone that's remained hidden until now. Here, killer whales, colossal squid and great white sharks face off in an underwater coliseum where only the fiercest creatures of the marine world survive."

 Link: HERE

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Whale Song

First sharks, now whales. We have a new film hitting cinemas soon, including IMAX (which would be spectacular), narrated by my fellow countryman, Ewan McGregor.

It's called Humpback Whales and it opens on Feb 15th 2015, a perfect way to celebrate Valentines, albeit a day late. How could anyone not love these things?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Learning to fly

Here is some epic footage taken in South Africa of Great White Sharks leaping into the air and attacking fake seals. We get to see these incredible beasts in all their glory. The video below is stunningly clear and we pretty much see every angle of these ocean hunters in all of their glory.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Take me to the river

Now being a dive instructor and and ex-Sony employee, I love this. Diving and gadgets? whats no to love?

Some retailers believe that it's important to make their stores easy to find. They'll even pay a premium for space in popular malls or streets with lots of foot traffic. Sony is taking a different approach with its Xperia Aquatech Store, which is underwater. 
This is a marketing gimmick to drive home the point that Sony makes waterproof devices, but it's an admirably over-the-top (or, I guess, under-the-sea?) approach. The Xperia Aquatech concept store is only open 4 meters underwater in Dubai for three days.
Sony provide scuba training, dive guides and a boat to help people reach the store.
Link: HERE

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Nuclear Drive

The ocean is an inhospitable place for soft, land-based human bodies. It's dark, oxygenless, and, perhaps most intractable of all, really cold. At the pressure of certain depths, neoprene suits will compress and lose their insulating power.

The air in tanks also gets cold, so divers become chillier with each breath. But in the 60s, the Navy thought they had an ingenious solution to it all: nuclear power.

Plutonium-238 is a byproduct of nuclear weapons production, but it also happens to be the ideal nuclear fuel for wetsuits—once you accept a nuclear-powered wetsuit is a good idea in the first place. It emits a lot of radiation, but only the kind that is easy to shield from. In this wetsuit design, almost a kilogram of plutonium-238 is placed inside a canister, where it radiates heat to a series of fluid-filled tubes lining the suit.
The Navy once tried using nuclear-powered wetsuits to keep divers warmWhen the Navy actually tested the suit, it did not... work so well. "It is concluded that the system in its present state is incapable of maintaining thermal balance in a diver at depth, and its use under SEALAB III conditions would entail a grave risk of hypothermia".

Check more out inthe link below.

Link: HERE

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bring me sunshine

In the immortal words of Morecambe & Wise, "bring me sunshine" because we're getting solittle of it here just now with multiple cold fronts sweeping in from the North North East which really has put a damper on the whole diving thing.

Normal services shall be resumed when the wind drops off and starts blowing the right direction. In the mean time I took a photo of the conditions out there today.......

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Friend of the devil

Now this is something you don't see every day, very rare footage of the Black Sea Devil anglerfish. There’s less than half a dozen pieces of footage of the anglerfish in existence, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) got lucky recently and have recorded the first ever sighting of a Black Sea Devil anglerfish in its natural habitat.

 The footage was captured by MBARI Senior Scientist Bruce Robison while controlling the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts in Monterey Bay. The 9cm-long anglerfish is swimming around at a depth of 580 meters (1,900 feet), and due to the species this is identified as a female complete with fishing pole (the males don’t have them).
As the video explains, this is an ambush predator.

It is not built for speed, instead using the light at the end of its fishing pole to attract fish and squids within range to be sucked into that huge mouth. This example is also an easy one to identify if seen again due to the broken tooth hanging out of its mouth (presuming it doesn’t fall off).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Taking on the world

It's been a while since we last went shore diving due to familial responsabilites, etc. but we managed to squeeze in an early morning dive. The viz was fantastic but there was an absolute ripper of a Northerly current which meant we had to keep it very low and very slow.

Looks can be deceiving......
We wern't on a particular mission for anything today, it was just an excuse to get in and get wet and play around with the small stuff, which you will always find here in abundance without fail. There's such a great selection of gobies and blennies here, you really are spoiled for choice.

There also seemed to be a lot of trumpetfish around this morning as well, far more than I usually see here so it was nice to go stalking them through the sea fans and sponges.

Peek-a-boo, I see you.

We were pushing 90 minutes on the dive with still plenty in reserve but with the condtions the way they were, it really didn't make much sense to carry on when we'd already seen so much good stuff.

And of course the best way to finish any dive is a visit to Chef Jen at the Greenhouse Cafe for some of her great food. Today's culinary treat was a green eggs and yam wrap with extra cheese, bacon and hot sauce, quite possibly my new favourite.......

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Way I Feel Inside

Think you know your fish? Think again because you probably haven't seen them like this before. Sandra Raredon, who has been at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History for 25 years has been involved with using radiology as part of her job responsibilities. Her striking black-and-white radiographs, or x-rays, of fish, stingrays, eels, and seahorses—“anything with a backbone,” she notes—reveal the complex bone structure in a level of detail reminiscent of fine engraving.

Pretty spectacular stuff. You can see the entire collection in the link below.

Link: HERE

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Cold day in the sun

Fantastic video clip from Nat Geo previewing "the man who doesnt breath air" premiering on 26th Oct featuring Stig Severinsen. Jump to 1:30 to see the spectaular stuff.

Dragons & Fables

With the relatives safely back home, it was time to exercise the water wings and get wet again on the East side, ably assited by the magical little dive pixies that make every dive so perfect (or Tortuga Divers as some other people call them).

The forecast wasn't looking at it's best for the morning but once we motered out round the North side for a bit, it cleared up nicely. With a full boat, the dive pixies were out in force to help everyone that needed it with future dad, Captain Dave at the helm, Captain Nat looking slightly green around the gills, and Sarah and Linda keeping everyone entertained.

We hit McCurley's Wall first which never disappoints as it's easy to get over to Babylon for a mooch around before heading back. I do like the overhangs and sponge formations at McCurleys as they are just so photogenic.

We did keep a close eye out in the blue the entire time but nothing made a fly by this time around, still we had massive shoals of fusiliers and trigger fish for the duration, so more than enough to keep us entertained.

Between a rock and a hard place. At the bottom of the Babylon pinnacle.
We got a quick lap round at Babylon before heading back to McCurleys to finish of the dive with some more epic scenery with the help of a very mild current.

After the half time oranges, we motored a little closer to home to somewhere where we've never dived before, Dragons Lair which supposed takes it's name from some of the outcrop that mildly resembles a dragons head. We could have chosen to see this rare natural phenomenon (baa-baa-ba-ba-ba. Sorry, old joke), but therewere other plans a foot.

Before we got in the water, Captain Dave gave us directions to a quiet little place on the site to check out which we did and found some very nice stuff there including some monsterous channel crabs (which I didn't get a shot of as my macro lens just isn't wide enough) but I did manage to squeeze in some lobster, of which there were plenty to see.

 There was also plenty of lionfish around, all of them at least 12-16 inches so it looks like the boys will have to get in there and do some house keeping. L'assassino Mancini would have had a field day here. There was a good selection of the little stuff to find as well with plenty of hermit crabs hiding in the undergrowth.

 There was also a good selection of blennies and gobies to entice out for a few shots infront of the lens before diappearing back into their holes. I love these little guys, hours of entertainment just watching them do their thing.

We also had a guest appearance from a juvenile golden tail moray as well but he was a little shy to come out and say hello so I had to get up close and personal to get the shot.

As we were heading back to the boat I was getting a little concenred as we had yet to find any nudibranchs but I needn't have worried as right to wards the end there was a lovely little tritonia hamnerorum with an egg ribbon on a sea fan which was exactly the kind of finish I was looking for to end a perfect days diving. There's never a bad dive when nudis are involved............

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Vyieke o Haros na Psarepsi

Now this is a great find, as an international team of divers and archaeologists who are investigating the site of an ancient Greek ship that sank more than 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera have not been disappointed. Not only is the site bigger than they thought, it also contains a treasure trove of artifacts.

Link: HERE

The ship, a luxury cargo vessel carrying Greek treasures from the coast of Asia Minor west to Rome, sank in treacherous seas around 70 to 60 BC in some deep water. The ship is located at around 55 meters so the team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) utilized a diving exosuit.

The Antikythera site is a treacherous one indeed. Back in 1900, when it was first discovered by sponge divers, the swimmers had to end their mission after one of the divers died of the bends and two were paralyzed. But not before they pulled up a spectacular haul of treasures, including bronze and marble statues, jewellery, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism.

"The evidence shows this is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered," says Foley. "It's the Titanic of the ancient world."

The archaeologists also recovered a beautiful intact table jug, part of an ornate bed leg, and most impressive of all, a 2-meter-long bronze spear buried just beneath the surface of the sand. Too large and heavy to have been used as a weapon, it must have belonged to a giant statue, perhaps a warrior or the goddess Athena, says Foley
Talk about the find of a lifetime!