I Shot the Moray (But I Did Not Shoot the Octopus)

Tuesday was a big boat day for us. We had a two tank boat dive for our group in the morning, and for the afternoon, several of us signed up for the afternoon boat dive.

We started with a visit to the southern side of Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited island off the western side of Bonaire. This is a site that can only be accessed via boat. It was a pretty site. I was busy taking pictures, and noticed Ken, then Jack, peeking into a hole. I didn’t want to glom onto their discovery, and Jack looked like he was pretty busy with it, so I let it go. I shouldn’t have; there was an octopus in the hole.

I did make a discovery that’s helped me out though; at one point I got deep enough that I could use the modeling light on the strobe, and found that it wasn’t aimed quite right. Once I re-aimed it, I started getting better coverage from it, and better exposures as well. I also put the diffuser on it, and that seems to have helped as well.

Parrot Fish
Parrot Fish

I burned through my air on that dive, and was one of the first ones back on the boat that dive. Once the others got back onboard, I found that I’d not only missed an octopus, but a  sea-horse as well. I’m just not good at picking animals out of their hiding places.

For the second dive, we did Small Wall, a small vertical wall just off the Black Durgon resort. The Durgon looks like a pit, but I rather liked Small Wall. In terms of photography, it’s easier (and more productive) to be shooting along a wall.

Four Eye Butterfly Fish
Four Eye Butterfly Fish

For the afternoon dive, several of us signed up for a one tank boat dive. The captain asked for suggestions, and Ralph asked for Old Blue, also known as Tolu. This site can also be done as a shore dive, but there is a mooring there, just off the cliffs to the north of the beach. I was cruising along the downslope of the reef, when I saw people beckoning and pointing at a crevice. I moved over, and saw nothing, until either Joe or Mike grabbed me and pointed the big green moray out to me.

Green Moray Eel
Green Moray Eel

A Dive of My Own

One of the issues I’ve been having with the group dives is that I tend to burn through my air faster than the others; I compensate by staying shallower so that I don’t go through my air so fast. And yet, I wanted to go deeper. There’s less interference from ambient light deeper, and, at least at the Buddy house reef, the deeper parts of the reef are more vertical. I decided I wanted to do a dive by myself; I deliberately planned it for 30 minutes rather an hour, so that I could splurge on going down to 70 – 80 feet and take pictures along the wall. I felt that the conditions were well within my capabilities, and that if I planned it carefully, it wouldn’t be a problem.

I really enjoyed it. I was able to go at my own pace, without worrying about losing the group. I got down to 75 feet, noting that at that depth, I had 30 minutes of no decompression time. I stayed at that depth for about 3 -4 minutes, then gradually started getting shallower. As I got shallower, the no-decompression time got longer, of course. I went out along the south, where we generally don’t go, and had a great time shooting. The reef is nearly vertical there, and I was able to get some good pictures without worrying about bumping into anything.

Black Bar Soldierfish
Black Bar Soldierfish

I more or less followed my plan, adding about ten minutes at the end in the shallows since I had extra air and enough no-decompression overhead. When I came up, I was treated to a marvelous sunset.

We went out to dinner last night, and as it happens, had the same waitress we’d had Joe’s Place the night before. She was telling us she was from Sint Maarten, and had lost everything from Hurricane Irma. She’d been evacuated to Bonaire, with nothing, and now was working two jobs, and had started her own bed and breakfast. And she was indomitable! A remarkable woman.

Update: more pictures here