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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!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Southern Girl

With the family visiting us we thought it would be nice to do one of those things that people rarely get a chance to do, which is a sunset cruise out the the Sandbar and interact with the rays. Given that my folks (currently) are not qualified divers, the Sandbar would be an ideal introduction to come face to fin with willing rays.

The timing was perfect as apart from four other people, we had the whole catamaran to ourselves with Captain Tilley, Chris and Eddie from Red Sail Sports making sure we could want for nothing and that we we well looked after.

Captain Tilley strikes a dashing pose on the dack of the cat
After a slow motor out into the bay, the sails were unfurled and we were well underway. Northward ho! It didn't take us too long to get to the Sandbar where there as only one other boat and three people there, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, which was epic.

If you kiss a frog and it turns into a prince, what happens when you kiss a ray??
This also meant that my folks, who were a bit hesitant about the whole thing didn't feel crowded and didn't have to worry about nutters on jetskis and other water craft being a nuisance. After a bit of coaxing, the family started to get into the swing of things and got right into interacting with the rays.

At no time were the rays coerced, badgered or man handled into doing anything they didn't want to do and they were more than happy to interact with us humans on a equal footing. This I feel is the sign of a good operator, as with many previous visits to the Sandbar and Deep, I have seen some horrible things done by other operators that cause the rays a lot of distress, not to mention distress to the visitors as well.

Tilley, Chris and Eddie set a good example of how people should be conducting themselves around the marine life and making sure their guests have the best possible experience so maximum kudos to them.

Who's that handsome man with the camera rig in the background?
The Sanbar was awash with dasyatis americana of all sizes and were more than happy to participate in a bit of playtime with all of us, darting in and out and offering big sloppy wet stingray kisses.

It's nice to see so many rays out as the numbers had been in decline for a little while so here's hoping that things are starting to turn around fro them.

We don't think the family could have had a better time if they had tried with the encounter leaving them humbled and extactic to have spent some quality time with these amazing creatures. Not to mention drinking the fresh made cocktails in front of one of Mother Natures finest sunsets. It just doesn't get better than this.

Many thanks to our friends Captain Tilley, Chris and Eddie from Red Sail Sports for providing first rate service on the cruise and to everyone else out there, if you're ever visting the island this is probably the best experience you can have interacting with the magnificent marine life in the wild (the turtle farm and the dolphin prison camps don't count and should be avoided at all costs).

I know this visit to the Sandbar is something that my family will remember, treasure and talk about for many years to come..........

Sunset over Stingray Sandbar.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Wicked Garden

Been a little quiet the last few days seeing as the folks are on island for a visit, so diving is on the back burner whilst we show them the sights and sounds. In this case, the botanic gardens. No running commentary, just visuals. Enjoy.

P.S. Stingray Sandbar update with the folks coming in a few days.