Diving Begins

Today was the first day of diving for the half of the group that arrived through Houston yesterday. We had a brief re-orientation from Augusto, the manager of dive operations here; everyone in the group had been here before, so he just highlighted a couple of changes, and reminded us of the park rules. Then it was time to get in the water.

Turtle passing by

Turtle passing by

Right after submerging for the first dive, a turtle happened by. I got a quick grab shot before it moved on. I was diving with Ralph for the first dive, and we pretty much stayed in one area and saw what there was to see.

After the dive, it was time to get some business done. Paul had gotten my paperwork to the dive shop, but I needed to sign off to get the marine park medallion. Then it was time to  pick up the rental truck, and get some groceries, and I had a very unpleasant surprise: I’ve been driving on an expired license since last fall. I thought it was up for renewal this year, but it expired last year, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not send license renewal reminders. Happily, they do permit renewals online, and somewhat to my surprise, the Bonaire IP address was not blocked, and I was able to renew my license online. I’ll need to carry a print out of the mail from the registry with me until the new license card arrives, but I’m back in business.

We did two additional dives this afternoon, the first, early in the afternoon, the second, around five. The early afternoon dive I did with my roommate Mike, the second with Mike and Ralph and Joe. For both of these dives, we headed north towards the next resort, until we reached the sunken boat between the two properties. The earlier dive I spent a little more time deeper, using the strobe, and the second one I stayed shallower, and tried the red filter again.

One of the things I spotted the first dive was a small spotted eel; he was writhing in and out of the coral heads.

Spotted Eel

Spotted Eel


This little guy was about two feet long, it was the first time I saw one of these actually come all the way out of the coral and move along the sea floor.

On both dives, when we reached the sunken boat, we found it protected by several sergeant majors — or more accurately, there were several egg masses on the boat, and the sergeant majors were protecting them.

The last dive of the day was especially nice. We finished up just before six, in time for the sunset. I’m always a sucker for sunsets.

I still need to figure out the best way to light my subjects. In the viewfinder, everything looks fine color-wise, but I’m still struggling with color as I did two years ago. I tried using the camera’s neutral density filter, to kill the ambient light exposure, but it really eats up a lot of light. The pictures with the filter have a nice existing light feel to them, but the color is weird, and I lost a number to motion blur. In any case, I lost the filter fitting after I switched back to strobe, so I won’t be using it again.

We went out to Joe’s Place tonight for dinner. Most of the others are in a three bedroom suite, so they’ve been given a large van. To save taking a second vehicle, we all piled in. We got to the restaurant, had dinner (I had a nice steak and a rather decadent sundae) and piled into the van. It didn’t start. Maybe it had something to do with the funny smell we were smelling on the way over. Even stranger, we realized we were in the wrong van — despite the fact that the key worked. Paul called the front desk, and they sent over another van to pick us up.

We have a boat dive early tomorrow morning, and I’ve signed up for a bioluminescence night dive for tomorrow night.

Update: More pictures here.