Today started off clear and dry. Henri was scheduled to do a photography class this morning, so I did the shore dive with Nick and the Hinzes. In the afternoon, Henri and I did Dee Scarr’s Touch the Sea program with the Nolan’s.
Weber’s Joy, AKA Witch’s Hut is along side the road leading north to Oil Slick and Old Blue. There’s an abandoned shack, with a turn in along the road, and steps leading down to the water. The water’s edge is lined with dead coral cobbles; once in the water, there’s a sandy bottom until you reach the wall. Since Henri was doing her class, I tagged along with Jack and Jane Hinz.
We crossed the sandy area, and descended the wall to about 80 feet, and swam alongside the wall to the south; gradually getting shallower as we went along. It was a rather quiet section of the reef, I didn’t take too many pictures, and it looks like Jack wasn’t shooting much video.
We continued to get shallower once we turned around, and found some more things of interest as we got shallower. After John Wall’s presentation the other night, I started looking more carefully, and found a Flamingo tongue snail on one of them.
Watchamacallit on the soft coral... also known as a Flamingo Tongue. It's part of the mollusk family.
The timing of the dives was a little inconvenient. I was scheduled to meet Dee at the drive in at the drive in at 2:00; we came out of the water at quarter of eleven. Allowing for an hour’s surface interval, another hour of dive time, plus cleanup, plus drive time back left me very little time to eat, replace my tanks and be ready for Dee. I decided it was cutting it too close and decided to head back, despite the fact the group was going to Karpata, which I’ve been wanting to do. In hindsight, they got back at 1:30; I might have been able to do it, but it would have meant a lot of rushing around, which I hate to do. I hate the time pressure, and it makes mistakes more likely.
Instead, I went back to the resort, had lunch at the restaurant (since I had the time), bumped into Paul, who was taking the morning off, and had a nice chat and relaxed. I then went back to the room, got some chores done and got my gear ready.
Touching The Sea
We spent the afternoon with Dee Scarr, a naturalist friend of Paul’s who is on a first name basis with many of the denizens of the reef, and runs a program called Touch The Sea.
Dee begins by giving a short description of what we’re likely to see underwater. Then everyone gears up, and heads into the water. First we headed for some concrete mooring blocks, where she showed us how the various coral colonies on the blocks were either growing together (in the case of the same species) or killing each other (in the case of different species). Then she showed us a male fish protecting its egg mass. Along the way, a couple of French Angelfish came along, and she fed them. Later, she had Henri feed them, and they immediately took a liking to her. They kept coming back for more.
Henri feeding French Angelfish
Other things Dee showed us:
- A razor fish, which dive into the sand.
- Sponges siphoning water, which she demonstrated by syringing vegetable dive onto them, and watching it be absorbed, then ejected out the top.
- A pair of lionfish, which Dee tried to dispatch.
- Cleaner shrimp in some anemones
- Three (!) squid, which came close enough to look us over, but not close enough for a good shot
- A moray eel in a rock, which I couldn’t seem to light with my strobe
- A snake eel. When Dee tried to feed it, the French Angelfish which had been following us swooped in.
- A scorpion fish
- A very small eel buried in the sand., which she fed. I got one shot, but the flash didn’t fire. When Dee tried to get it to come back up, the French Angelfish swooped in.
- A couple of baby French Angelfish, only half an inch or so long.
- A very small flounder.
Overall, we saw a lot, but I was frustrated with my own performance today. I picked up 18 pounds of weights Saturday, and it was OK then, but the wetsuit has gotten waterlogged, and I’m staying down more easily, so I felt very overweighted. Also, the strobe kept failing, or the camera would time out and shut itself down, and not be ready when I wanted it. Still, I got a few good shots that look like they’ll come up quite nicely.
The last dive of the day was a dusk/night dive with the Hinzes. Jack was using a special black light that he was shining on the corals to make them fluoresce; Jane and I mostly kept our lights off for the better part of the dive. I was using my main light and the modeling light on the strobe. Along the way out, I found a nest of three lionfish. On the way back, the tarpon arrived, and started circling us. Near the end, we ran into a cloud of small minnow like fish, swarming the area around the dock. When we came out, Paul had his spaghetti supper.
Update: More pictures here.