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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Paper Chase

Another week, another photo of the week in the local rag. This time thanks to Tortuga Divers for the transportation to Julie's Wall where this shot was taken. You should give it a visit next time you're on the North side.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Hairy Frogfish

Pretty incredible short video of the striated frogfish (or hairy frogfish) by Jose Lachat.  An oldie but a goodie.

Antennarius striatus (Striped, Striated, Splitlure, Zebra or Hairy frogfish) is a singulary interesting frogfish, mainly because of its large and well visible worm-like lure which it likes to move a lot. Because of its perfect camouflage it is not that easy to find though.

The pectoral fins are angled, and with the pelvic fins, allow the frogfish to "walk" on the sea bottom and to keep a stable position for ambush.

The striated frogfish is found in the tropical and subtropical waters from the Indian Ocean to the center of the Pacific Ocean, and in the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast of Africa and from the New Jersey coast to the southern Brazilian coast including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean at depths varying from the surface to 210 m with average occurrence at 40 m deep.

Link: HERE

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

When Julie comes around

Well once we got past the road race going on at the bottom of our road, we immediately hit a cycle race that was going on. All the way to the East End. With a police escort. And no overtaking was allowed. Ever driven anywhere at 10 mph for a long time? It's like watching paint dry. Anyway, frustrations aside, we joined our good fiends at Tortuga Divers once again and set sail for high adventures and tales of derring-do. With a 5-6 knots NE wind, it was relatively calm today which gave us a nice excuse to head Northward.

Nat's back!
Captain Nige motored us over to Julie's Wall for the first dive which if you haven't done it before is a particularly nice wall dive which backs onto Babylon. If your air management is particularly good, you can easily do Julie's Wall and several laps round the Babylon pinnacle and be back in time for tea.

You've got some really nice cuts and over hangs on the wall at this site if you head East with some great sponge formations and vibrant colours which really "pop" under strobe light. There were also some very large shoals of triggerfish, grunts, fusiliers and sweetlips cruising the top of the wall which made for some nice silhouette shots. We also had our faithful pet snapper follow us as usual as it wouldn't be a dive otherwise.

Unfortunately we had to dive with the lowest common denominator, so by the time we came up from depth and back at the boat we still had half a tank left which was a shame as we could have easily got an extra 30 minutes in, but hey, when paying tourists are on the boat, you got make do. Still a very nice dive though.

If you head West along the wall (away from Babylon) there is supposed to be a very nice overhang wall as described in the brief by Captain Nige, which maybe we'll get around to visiting the next trip out as I'd really like to see what photo opportunities are available there.

After a quick motor back round to the East side, we moored up at Cinderellas Castle with is a nice shallow little site with some nice twisty little swim throughs and pinnacles to get yourself lost in. Be sure to have a good look under some of the shelfs as you may miss some nice stuff like lobsters and turtles. Just be prepared for a tight squeeze to get some of the shots.

A nice big turtle as relayed to us by Captain Nige.
Given that the top of the Castle is relatively shallow, be ready to take a beating from the surge and the visibility to drop, however the rewards are worth it if you can up close and personal. Right under the boat there were some fine examples of juvenile tritonia hamnerorum at only a couple of millimetres big, clinging on for dear life.

There were also some fine examples of rough head blennies scattered all around the coral heads, albeit very tricky to shoot with an ultra macro lens in the conditions, but worth the effort.

Also keep an eye out for some nice shoals of yellow goatfish, cruising barracuda, gliding lionfish and plenty of lazy red hinds, which should be more than enough to keep you entertained for a good 70-80 minutes. If you're really lucky, you'll find some nurse sharks here as well. A lovely little dive site for a second dive that's close to home base.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Watch how I soar......

Well we've been saying for years, why explore outer space when most of the worlds oceans are still unexplored?

Link: HERE

"Even though they cover two-third's of the planet's surface, we know precious little about how the oceans actually interact with the continents and atmosphere. What's more, our oceanic models are woefully incomplete—only capable of showing large areas with reduced resolution or in high detail over a limited area. But a new fleet of autonomous research submarines are about to rectify that problem."

"These 16 gliders were built as part of Rutgers University's Challenger mission to explore and quantify deep ocean currents and provide researchers a means of testing existing oceanic models for accuracy against the collected data. Each UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) measures just over seven feet long and utilizes buoyancy changes within the water column to propel it along at speeds of 21 miles per day. That's pretty slow, even by conventional seafaring standards, but over the course of the next two years, these gliders are expected to cover a total of 128,000 square kilometers (nearly 80,000 square miles) throughout five ocean basins—each one covering 6,000 to 8,000 km individually." 


Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Swarm

A great read if you ever wanted to know why fish and birds swarm together.

"Being based on land, we have a hard time understanding the behavior of those species that live in the air or underwater. For instance, countless generations have looked up and wondered at the so-called flying V, the tendency of many migratory birds to fly in a wedge-shaped formation. Eventually, scientists figured out that the reason the birds assumed that formation was efficiency; the incredibly complex math of chaos and waves leads a V shape that reduces drag. It’s similar in logic to the drafting performed by race cars, though far more specialized and complex."

Link: HERE

"Researchers now have plenty of explanations for the why of this behavior. First and foremost: there’s safety in numbers. Even if you can’t fight back as a group, you can still use numbers to confuse an enemy with sheer visual noise. In a large group, any one member is infinitely safe than if they were caught out alone — though also far easier to track down."

"The rules are more complex than we currently understand, though. For instance, some species wheel about in incredible patterns and vortexes that are designed to confuse attackers and create unhelpful turbulence in the water or air."