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Monday, 16 June 2014

Where eagles dare

Overcast with a 12-14 knots wind and a bit lumpy at the surface. That's what the forecast predicted and that's exactly what we got as we steamed away from the docks. Captain Nige, Nat and Linda had the dirty job of keeping the reprobates in line as we headed up to Babylon for the first dive. We had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at depth today to make the most of the spectacular scenery.

Babylon is not a difficult dive to navigate but as always you must keep a constant eye on your bottom time and SAC as it's all to easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by how easy the dive can be. Unless you've got the experience, always follow one of the excellent dive guides that Tortuga.

Huge sponge and sea fan formations litter the walls and pinnacle here so plenty of opportunity to get creative with the camera. Plenty of fusiliers and grunts hanging around but a lot of the bigger stuff was a bit skittish today and despite my best whisperings, I couldn't entice them in front of the camera lens.

My biggest fans. Ho ho ho.
We headed out into the blue for a bit just to see if there was anything interesting but unfortunately not much was happening so we just headed West for a little bit and dropped down to get some shots of the fantastic fans and hard coral and just lots and lots of sponges and sea whips. Awesome.

Towards the end of the dive we got a visit from a nice little turtle as it cruised by the pinnacle and up onto the top of the wall for a little bit.

"Hello Mr. Turtle. Carry on regardless."

The safety stop also proved to be entertaining as a barrel sponge headed for the surface before gently cruising back down to to rest in the sand. I could have sworn that something had picked up to eat and dropped it and was looking everywhere to see what it was. Turns out it was Captain Nige pulling one of his tricks and trying to confuse us. Shame on you, sir, shame on you.

For dive number two we motored back to spitting distance from the dock and jumped in on Rogers Reef. And if your a Python fan then its Wogers Weef. "Welease Woger. He's a wobber. And a wapist. And a pickpocket!"

Anyway, Nige and Linda gave us a good lead on a nudibranch hot spot with Linda quoting seven nudis on the same rock earlier in the week. I only managed to find five, but there were at least another four on a rock just North of the mooring pin, all of them elysia crispata as well.

Some nice hermit crabs on the hard coral were happy to pause for a quick shot before scuttling off under a rock as there was a bit surge in the shallows not to mention the viz not being the best at this point.

But that didn't deter the little critters from making brief appearances out of theire various nooks and crannies like some lovely little blennies and some pipe fish.

But the best was yet to come as one by one everyone else vacated the water and as we were about to make our way back to the boat to start our safety stop, I looked back to see a trio of eagle rays cruise by and then swing back round to do a fly by before disappearing off into the blue again.

And in typical fashion, all I had was my ultra macro lens and small arms on the rig.  I'm sure they do it on purpose. It's a conspiracy I tell you! Still, I got a couple of "ho-hum" shots and a little video so it wasn't a complete loss.

The trio on the first fly by

One of three on the second fly by. Lens too narrow to fit all of them in.

It was an epic way to end the day's diving. There should definitely be more rays at the end of a dive. We'll have to pre-book them for next time!

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.

Nige and Linda catering to the unruly mob