Saturday, November 29, 2008

28, 29, 30 - addendum

I was trying to post these last two videos in the previous entry.

It was taking too long. Maybe I had too many other photos and videos in there already.

This is a little video above is of the crazy yellow-fin snappers at Coki Beach during our last beach dive.

They were literally on our fins and in our faces.

This is what happens when people feed the fish.

Really, it's amusing.

I took a moment toward the end of our beach dive at Coki to look up and check out how the light was filtering through the water.

When I did, I saw this guy swimming at the surface.

It did not take him long to swim deeper, coming within about 1o feet of me. Then he meandered leisurely on his way.

OK. That is all for the addendum.

28, 29, 30

OK. Wrapping it up, boss.

These are photos, videos and details from the last three dives of the St. Thomas trip.

We did our two boat dives, then, wanting to see the Coki Beach area by day after the night dive the previous evening, we talked Peter into giving us a couple full tanks to do a quick spin around Coki.

Before the dive we hung out with one of the beach cats.

Then off to the first site.

Grassy Cay, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 28
Max depth: 65 feet
Bottomtime: 52 minutes

Below is a video snippet of manfriend's macho back roll.

And then the second site.

Lovongo Cay, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 29
Max depth: 55 feet
Bottomtime: 50 minutes

And finally Coki to finish off the trip.

Coki Beach, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 14, 2008
Logged dive: No. 30
Max depth: 45 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes

From here on out I get lazy. You just get a photo blog. Captions, if I write them will be under the photos. And there are a couple little videos in there.

So really, you should keep reading.

We actually saw these dolphins later into the second dive. But I wanted to post them toward the top here to make sure people stuck around long enough to see them. Manfriend took the photo. I was too in awe to collect myself enough to use the camera. Plus these babies were cruising by pretty fast.
They were also far away, but he got a decent shot.

MF, who is fascinated by anemones, took the two photos above.

This is MF's picture of an eel that I spotted tucked into a crevice.

I like this shot of coral, also by MF. Something about the grayness of it is so nice.
From here down are my shots. They will not all have captions.

This is a detail of a sea fan. I like the lacy look of them.

On the beach dive from Coki, we were followed, quite closely, by a large group of yellow-fin snappers. Turns out they get fed by the snuba people and the snorklers and some divers. So they did not just really, really like us. They were moochers.

What IS it? So fascinating.

This video is of a tube worm swaying with the current. They look like plants or flowers until you get too close and they WHOOSH! pull themselves back into their tubes.
That is the tube some sort of tube worm retracts back into.

My eel picture.
Yes, another.

Stop light parrot fish. Love these guys.

Again, what the heck IS it?

My two brains. I liked the contrasting colors of these brain corals. A meeting of the minds.

Here is the turtle from the Coki dive. I looked up, just to see what the light looked like, and saw him swimming over head. As I shot the video, he swam deeper, coming down just to the side of me. This is some really nice footage.

This guy runs a daquiri stand at Coki Beach. He was quite friendly and made a mean daquiri. He said this concoction, the Island Girl, was the specialty. It had strawberries, pineapple, mango, banana and rum. Maybe some other stuff. But once I heard rum I really stopped listening and just said "Yes, please!"

And yeah, it was awesome. This was my end-of-diving treat.

Now, even though I have been home for more than a week, it is just about time to bring this blog back to reality.

One more post, probably tomorrow, of some here-and-there shots around the island.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I don't think I blinked the entire time

I have been dragging this out for far too long now.

I can blame part of it on work and the holiday and on not wanting to be tied to the computer every spare minute.

But enough is enough. I need to finish the vacation blogging. So, I will do this post to log in the last dive we did Nov. 13 and then another post to log in the three dives we did Nov. 14.

And maybe I will do one last post of just the other non-dive photos that are interesting.
So, three more posts?

OK. The plan is to be done with this by the end of the day tomorrow so I don't go into my weekend with it. Besides, I have some food to blog about, too.

Now, let's get on with it.

Here are the details on my first night dive.

Coki Beach, St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 13, 2008
Logged dive: No. 27
Max depth: 55 feet
Bottomtime: 50 minutes

As I said, this was my first night dive. I really did not have any idea what to expect.

Even after the manfriend told me about the night dives he had done, I was still totally in the dark, so to speak.

We got to Coki Beach just before dusk and waited for Peter to get there.

By the time we got all our gear ready and Peter went over the dive plan and explained a bit about night diving to me, the sun was gone and we were ready to get in the water.

This was the easiest beach entry I've done. There is basically no surf here.

Peter explained that we would drop down and swim out over the sand for a couple minutes. Then we would start to see bits of coral where the reef started.

We would swim along the edge of the reef for a bit, heading toward Coral World.

When it was time to turn around, we would come back over the reef, back to the sand and make our exit back at the beach.

Peter gave us flashlights to use.

Wow, it really was dark!

I had thought about taking mostly video on this dive, but soon realized that it was not really going to work out unless I had a large dedicated light on the camera.

I did take a snippet of it, below, just to give an idea of what it was like.

After that I switched to photo mode.

This is an octopus, curled up in the sand. Anytime I had seen them during the day they were tucked into rocky areas.

This is a very long-limbed anemone. It was using those crazy limbs to reach out and reel in some of those tiny blue fish.

This one did not seem to be doing the same kind of business as the longer-limbed one.

We passed what looks like the base of a table sitting in the sand.

As with most things that end up on the ocean floor, something has made a home in it. This looks to be an arrow crab or something similar.

Also sitting in the sand was this guy, below.

He headed out after I took a couple pictures.

Peter took my camera and followed him to get a couple more pictures.

And then he was off again, fleeing the crazy humanfish with their crazy flashing things.

After a while, not that long really, it became too much to try to work the flashlight and the camera and really pay attention.

So I gave up on the photos.

I really wanted to just see everything that was happening.

And man, was it creepy! Awesome, but creepy.

In addition to the critters above, we saw a spotted eel sliding through the water looking for a good place in some rocks. They are so cool but also so odd that they are a little frightening.

There were several fish, but they seemed to be more in slow motion at night than during the day.

When we hit the support pipes that come down into the water from Coral World, we turned around and headed back over the reef.

Finally, back over the sand to the beach. Amazing. We surfaced in exactly the same spot where we had descended. I wonder how many times Peter has done that dive?

Once we had our fins off and were exiting the water, Peter asked me how it was, my first night dive.

"It was so cool and so creepy! I don't think I blinked the whole time!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Diving St. Thomas (still!)

Wreck of the Gen. Rogers, off of St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 13, 2008
Logged dive: No. 25
Max depth: 64 feet
Bottomtime: 45 minutes

The day was overcast and dark with clouds, but the diving must go on.
We headed out on the boat from Coki Beach to a site Peter said might not be the best visibility because of the weather and because it was a wreck in the channel between a couple islands. So the bottom was very sandy which could make for some siltiness.

It shows up as backscatter in the photos and some video.
The swim to the wreck was littered with tires that had been dropped in an effort to form reefs. But Peter said they were not the best thing since the chemicals in them leeched into the water.
Nice. I guess they had been there a while though since corals and sponges were already attaching themselves.

Once we got to the ship, it was nice to see that it was not huge. Just big enough to be a good home for a nice variety of fish, etc.

I took a few photos, but mostly worked video here.

The shot below is one the manfriend took of a crazy, creepy wormy thing.

It freaks me out, but I love it.

That is me, below, doing the safety stop on the anchor line at the end of the dive. Taken by MF, of course.

Next dive...

Mingo, off of St. Thomas, USVI
Nov. 13, 2008
Logged dive: No. 26
Max depth: 55 feet
Bottomtime: 45 minutes

This area is made up of several small reefs dotting the ocean floor. There is a lot of coral, sponges and reef fish.

We saw a lot here. There was a turtle, a couple jellies, an octopus and a funny little crab.
Some of that is in the video.

MF took the shot below at the start of the dive.

Below is another shot by MF. I tried to get a shot of something similar on a previous dive, but could not get anything nearly this nice.

Puffer guy, below, by MF.

Glowing little shrimp thing, below, by MF.

Here is the crab, below. I took this shot. It has much more blue in it that I wanted. But at least it is nice and clear.

The thing below looked like a light pole or something. Stuff was growing on it, living under it. This shot below and the next two after that are mine.

This guy was living under the pole. I like the spots and the pouty, pissed-off look on his face.
Here he is again. I wonder why I think of all the fish as "he."
I find the sponges pretty interesting, too. There are so many colors and shapes and sizes of them.

This one had a little shrimpy guy living in it.

This looked like some sort of avant garde vase.

OK. They will keep coming for a little while longer.
I still have four more dives to document. If not for anyone reading this, then at least for my own record.