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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Little bitty pretty one

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) put together and released an amazing photo set not long ago showing us the smallest marine creatures living in our planet's seas and oceans.

Phytoplanktons, diatoms, different types and forms of algae — they all look beautiful under the microscope. Without these tiny lifeforms, invisible for the naked eye, there would be no life in our seas. Amazing! Check them all out at the link to NOAA below.

Link: HERE




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Flying in a blue dream

I think it would be far easier to mention what we didn't see this morning because we seemed to see everything else out there today. Conditions were nigh on perfect barring the odd muppet doing a descent right on my head. The whole ocean to choose from and she drops right on top of me. Idiot.

Anyway, we had great viz, next to no current, pretty flat calm on the surface and just shy of a 3 hour runtime, it couldn't have got any better, but it did. Everything just started appearing, we really didn't have to look too hard to find most of it. Straight away we had a couple of nice peacock flounders gliding over the hardpan, as well as some yellow spotted rays.


We also had quite a few trumpet fish not only in front of the camera but also doing their ninja trick and getting tucked in beside your main tank, which you don't know about until someone tells you or you turn around very suddenly.

One in front and and one behind.....

Getting tucked right into the mini wall unearthed some nice little spotted cleaner shrimp sitting on some cup corals just waiting for someone to come along and take a picture, and who am I to deny them?. We also had some nice banded coral shrimp and some snapping shrimp to keep us entertained.



Juvenile filefish where also practising their stealth techniques by taking refuge underneath my modelling light for a good portion of the dive, which would have made a great shot if I'd had a camera to take a picture of my camera! Luckily there were a few more hiding out in front of the lens. Blink and you'd miss them.


There were great examples of red reef hermit crabs hiding out on the sponges along with other fine examples of many legged wonders of the world like decorator and neck crabs. Wave your legs in the air like you just don't care!



And did I mention nudibranchs? no? well there was some nice ones to be found if you had the eye of an eagle! Elysia crispata, elysia ornata and dendrodoris krebsii to name a few. Epic!





Moving onto something a little bigger, we were buzzed by some low swimming squid followed by a turtle for the encore. And yes I know the shot of the turtle isn't framed as well as I would have liked but it was an off the cuff shot using an ultra macro lens with no adjustment. But, hey, it's the first turtle we've seen for a little while.



We also had a rare sighting of a flying gurnard in the shallows at about 5m which was pretty spectacular as you dont't see them that often. If you've never seen one, it's like a lobster, a hummingbird and a porcupine fish all got together and had a bastard abomination frankenstein love child........



And now back to the small stuff once again with some fine examples of cyphoma gibbosum and a great selection of gobies and blennies (of course it wouldn't be a dive without them).








And with a final hurrah towards the end of the dive we have a bristle worm looking nice and fluffy for the camera. It's so fluffy! Exceptional shore diving today which I've always been a big advocate of as you don't have to throw yourself off a perfectly good boat to see the good stuff and you get the added benefit of staying down as long as you want without having to worry about other people waiting for you. But boat diving is still nice too :-)


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Outshined

The weather forecast called it right and we didn't expect anything less with about a 20 knot ENE, strong swells at the surface and strong surges underwater but that's what makes things fun after all, doesn't it? The majority of the boat was filled with "locals" today and mostly dysfunctional with it as well but nuff said about that, that's a cross that Nice, Nat, Ian and April had to bare.

We ended up at the the Maze on the South side to try and get some shots in but several factors were against us which curtailed that idea pretty quick. We did get one shark come in for a look but it wasn't interested in getting too close given the amount of noise and flailing bodies that were in the vicinity.


The scenery wasn't the greatest ever but then again, you come here for the encounters with the big stuff rather than picturesque seascape, that's what the North side is for. But if you like swim throughs, there's a few here on the top of the wall that you can worm your way through before you appear out over the deep. Not advisable for people with big camera rigs or wide wetsuits though.......

Spot the trumpetfish.......


Give the sea state, we didn't go to far before mooring up at Old Isaacs for dive number two which I had never done before. The surge proved challenging as you would expected but I was delighted to find some nice little critters here, with plenty of blennies and gobies hiding out amongst the hard corals.




Several varieties of crustaceans were scuttling about as well, neck crabs, channel crabs, lobsters but not all of them wanted to be co-operative but there were some very nice hermit crabs to be seen.

Watch out, he's got a mean right hook!
Of course the big delight of the day was finding my favourites little critters, the nudbranchs. In this case a diminutive juvenile elysia crispata and and even smaller painted elysia. I think that more than makes up for everything else.



We plan to go seahorse hunting next weekend so if you're lucky we might have somehting interesting to show you. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Shadowplay

Well we did try to get in at LHP this morning but the dock was lifted and the waves were crashing over the shore, so it was with a heavy BCD that we turned the car around and headed home.

On the spur of the moment we decided to stop at Sunset House as it was nearly a year to the day since we had last been there. Just as well we did I suppose as the light and the conditions were just right. With a 7 knot Easterly wind, 28c in the water and a mild Northerly current, what more could you ask for.

Life through the dome port. Getting ready to go under with the sun just on the rise.
I resisted the urge to take some shots of Amphitrite on the way past as I think I've got the best of her on previous dives. But we did stop off at the Nicholson as it's such a treasure trove for scenery and marine live. As soon as we got there, we were immediately swarmed by snappers, groupers, angel fish and fusiliers. They knew we were coming and they just decided to ambush us all at the same time!

This big old boy was our constant companion through the dive.........
He loved the attention!


With our bottom time slowly ticking away, we played pied piper to the snappers as we led them onto the main wall to have some more fun in the deep amongst the rope and barrel sponges.


A barrel (sponge) of fish?

Right place, right time, right lighting and a whole heap of luck to get a nice shot.
We did miss the usual array of turltes that normally hang around over the transition but I'm sure they were out there somewhere. The lobsters were certainly out and about this morning, they didn't mind sitting in front of the camera.


After a quick swap of the lenses and a brief S.I., we were back in the water for round two and on the hunt for the small stuff. The site has always been good for gobies and blennies and today was no exception with the little fellas running wild all over the place.





Not to mention a nice spotted drum which Jill found hiding under a rock. Sadly though I failed to find any nudi's on this outing. My powers of observation have temporarily deserted me this weekend.


But I did see a nice little juvenile slender filefish so I wasn't sompletely blind!


It was a great morning out, not only for the marine life but for us as well. Hopefully next Sunday will be just as nice if you care to join us by throwing yourself off a perfectly good boat over on the East side of the island. Till then, dive safe.

Obligatory post dive white russian........
whilst watching people fall in the water. All good fun.