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Friday, 28 February 2014

The Exosuit

We're getting one step closer to longer, deeper, safer dives as individuals. How long will it be before we see something lighter, thinner and cheaper than this used in everyday diving? 10 Years maybe? or will we still all be on traditional open circuit like we are now? Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Link: HERE

"The only diving suit that lets a human reach 1,000 feet underwater was put on display at the American Museum of Natural History on Thursday. Dubbed the "Exosuit," the system lets humans dive to regions where bioluminescent fish lurk in the darkness, with the goal of studying the fish and their environments more closely, as well as leveraging their biology for medical research."

"Not only will the suit allow divers to see and potentially capture fish more safely, they will also get to image them with cameras in their natural habitat. The deep ocean is naturally hostile to humans, and therefore scientists know relatively little about it. Sparks noted that the suit will also let researchers gather more information about how creatures at those depths speciate and diversify, a process that's not currently well-known."

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tower of power

Well as good as our word, we set off at the crack of dawn over to the East End to jump off a perfectly acceptable boat operated by our good friends at Tortuga divers. Once again they show other dive operators on the island how dive centre should be run. It's been a couple of months since we were last out with them what with work getting in the way but it's good to be back.

Big boat, not too many passengers and a crack team of boat crew. This is how you do it.
Unsurprisingly, the first place we jumped in was Babylon. I think outside of St Abbs, I know this dive site more than any other place on the island! But as the old saying goes, never a bad dive at Babylon. And today proved no exception despite the water being a bit cloudy we had great overhead lighting and an explosion of colours down below.

Getting dirty down at 30 (m)
As always you should be keeping one eye on your computer because it's just far too easy to spend time down in the deep with all the fantastic sea fans and sponge formations on offer for the photographers out there.

And without fail, we were followed around on the dive by our faithful pet snappers and angelfish. It happens every dive, I think they just want to get close to the camera.......

It never hurts to keep an eye out in the blue now and again as it's not uncommon for the bigger stuff to cruising by but today was a bit uneventful in that regards but that didn't detract from the stunning scenery on offer.

Start deep and spiral your way up the pinnacle until you get bored (as if!). Like us, if you still find you have bags of air left, follow the wall Easterly to catch some phenomenal overhangs and colours that looks as though an explosion in a paint factory just happened.

When your ready to head home just cruise along the top of the wall to knock out your safety stop as the mooring pin and boat are sitting right there to ready for your trip to the next dive site.

In this case, our next site was Delwyn's Delight which was a nice little mini wall with some great coral fingers to mooch around in and look for the small stuff.

Peek-a-boo, I see you.
Doug also was kind enough to point us in the direction of a nurse shark hiding under a shelf. Now ultra macro lenses aren't necessarily the best weapon of choice to take shark pics but I gave it my best shot.

There was also a great selection of gobies and blennies on offer to waste a good portion of the dive on, which was absolutely fine by me.

If you looked carefully, you would also see several cleaning stations dotted around on the wall which gave some excellent photo opportunities but unfortunately I just missed the Pederson shrimps working on the Coney Grouper in the phono below. Damn you!

Still there were plenty of hamlets, grunts, drumfish and basslets to keep me occupied until I found one of my most favourite things in the world. Nudis!! A couple of lettuce leaf slugs crawling along the top of the wall were just the thing to add the icing to the cake on today's diving, despite their lack of enthusiasm towards the camera. Maybe I caught them without their make-up on or something........

Still despite getting the brush off, it was a great end to a great days diving and guaranteed we'll be jumping off a perfectly seaworthy boat again in a couple of weeks time over on the East End. Safe diving everyone!

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Dream a little dream of me

Well today the wind was minimal the surface had a few lumps in it and we had the opportunity to head Northward. To add the icing on the cake, we asked to jump in on Dreamweaver and our wish was granted.

And we're off!!
We don't get a chance to go North that often and even less opportunity to dive Dreamweaver so it was nice to reacquaint ourselves with such a spectacular dive site. The only downside was the boat was packed from bow to stern and half of the divers were lionfish hunters.

Now this isn't normally a problem but these morons had no regard for anyone's safety topside or in the water as they were quite happy to wave and wave their spears all over the place. I swear the DoE only issues spears to those individuals who prove how big and stupid a muppet they are. I wouldn't trust them with a crayon in their hands let alone a sharp object.

On the plus side, we dived completely separate from everyone else so we only had to put up with their asinine antics on the boat, were we stayed at the stern and well away from them.

Muppets aside, Dreamweaver lives up to it's name by providing some of the best wall diving anywhere this side of the Bloody Bay Wall.

Amazing coral formations
The wall tumbles of into the depths and intricate crenelations hide a wealth of marine life as well as stunning hard and soft coral formations with an embarrassment of rope sponges. Unfortunately the eagle rays weren't out to escort us today but we had quite a few turtle encounters which made up for it.

Teenage non mutant hero turtle!
More turtle action. What a Dream(weaver).
Be warned though as it is a deep site and the mooring point is set well back from the wall so excellent navigation is a must if you don't want to get turned around. If in doubt, follow a guide.

Vibrant colours abound at this site.
After surviving the spear waving mob during the surface interval, we headed out the Roberts Wall which is another wall dive on the the North side but you have the option of heading South from the mooring point to swim round some nice coral islands at around 16 metres but do watch your NDL, especially after a deep dive like Dreamweaver if you want to maximise your bottom time on this site. There's a lot of nice macro life to see with some great blennies and gobies to try and find in amongst all the sponges and fans.

Of course it wouldn't be a dive without being shadowed by a herd of snappers. Wherever you go, there they are. I swear it's the same snappers that and they followed us all the way from Lighthouse Point...... Anyway, back to the dive where there was a fine collection Red-ridged crabs hiding in some of the nooks and crannies but they just wouldn't be tempted out of their holes, more's the pity.

And for the next picture, spot the fish! No prizes mind you........

Look very carefully. Blink and you'll miss it.
Make sure you check the sponges as well because there will be nudi's, unfortunately I couldn't get the rig under and up to get a shot of the gold line sea goddess (no, not you, 633068, the other sea goddess!). But always check on top and you'll more than likely you'll find the runner up prize.

No nudibranch but better than nothing.
And one of the best parts of the diving this morning? Stopping off for coffee and cheesecake to recharge the old battery cells after racking up the bottom time.

Just for the record, the double slice of blueberry cake isn't mine.....
Tune in next week as we head over to the East End for some more high seas adventure with our good friends from Tortuga Divers, until then, safe diving everyone!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Second hand news

In the news again with another shot in the local rag, this time from the main wall at Lighthouse Point. Stay tuned for more exciting happenings as we head over to the North Wall tomorrow to see what we can see.......

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Palm tree kind of day

With the crappy weather finally abating somewhat, we finally got back in the water after a couple of weeks dry. Conditions still weren't great with an 8 knot easterly and a strong Southerly current but definitely divable.

The currents did prove useful for bringing the turtles out to play on the main wall and there were a good handful of them cruising around.

And our good friend Mr Green Moray came out to say hello as well.

Mr Moray pops out to chase the kids off his garden.....
 There was a healthy selection of fusiliers, tangs, angel fish, triggers, pipefish, snappers, hogfish and groupers mooching around as well, which always make for a good photo or two.

A nice big hogfish trying to get away from the camera
We also had a lone stingray cruising out over the sand but he really didn't want to play this morning, which was a shame.

"Come back! You're going the wrong way!!"
Still our faithful snapper, Spot, posed for some shots for us which was jolly decent of him. Thanks Spot!

Good old dependable Spot. He's always good for a shot or two.
We got in amongst some nice big shoals of sweetlips hanging off the mini wall as well which added some throw away shots onto the SD card for article fillers at a later date.

Put your sweetlips a little closer to the phone (for all you Jim Reeves fans out there)
We did have a really good scour around in the shallows on the hard pan for the small stuff as well but the increasing swell was making macro shots a little challenging not to mention the lack of co-operative subjects, but I did find a really nice lettuce leaf slug, which decided to turn it's back on me in a huff. Was it something I said?

There were also some nice little arrow crabs handing onto the sponges and corals for grim death as well.

And last but by no means least, the obligatory juvenile blenny shot, just for good measure. I love these little fellows.

"Say cheese!"

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lizard Love

I've seen a few strange things over the years working in the dive industry, this is one of the better ones. We got a brace of full face masks dropped into the store for their annual service.

As we were working on them, we thought we had spotted a crack in the front panel of one of them. But no, it turns out it was a baby gecko. And it was still alive and healthy.

As we were investigating further, we all so found the remains of it's shell that it had hatched from.

We had a fair old struggle trying to evict it from the only home it's ever known, but we couldn't let it stay there and risk accidental inhalation from the next person to use the mask.

We christened him Bob and stuck him in a mask box where we took it out to the bushes and safely returned him to the wild to live out the remainder of his days with his brethren.

So remember, it pays to check your gear regularly because you never know if a gecko as snuck in to lay some eggs in it and hatch some baby geckos.

Thanks to Rob for donating his hands for the photographs.