Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Little Cayman - July 21 - July 28, 2012 - Life Beneath the Surface

As with last year's Bahamas trip, I brought my Sealife 1200 underwater camera to take some pictures of the marine life and my fellow divers.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to take as many pictures as I had wanted to because I neglected to recharge the battery after one day's use.  The next morning, when I was getting myself ready, I saw to my dismay that the batter was low, so I managed to charge it for a few minutes before I had to leave.  The camera had enough juice for just a few pictures before it conked out again.

Still, I managed to get some decent underwater shots, the best of which follow below. 

First up, my favorite dive site of the trip, Jackson's Reef, which we visited on Thursday, July 26.  What I really liked about it was that it featured a large open white sand bottom surrounded by large coral formations with lots of cuts, nooks and crannies that I like to explore and swim through.

I like the way this one turned out, with fellow diver Bruce parallel in the photo with the barracuda. I have to confess that this was entirely accidental on my part, as Bruce just happened to be in the right spot when I pressed the button.

I spotted this lobster early on in the dive crawling in a narrow crevice bathed in shadow.  I attempted several shots, but due to the fact that I did not have strobes, the lobster was barely visible.  A few minutes later, I went looking for it again and found it out in the open.  The photo above is one of three I took of it from different angles.

Talk about a close encounter.  I was swimming above the coral when I found a narrow groove beneath me.  Being rather thin, I decided to descend into the opening.  When my fins touched down on the surface, I turned to my left and what do I see staring right into my face but this grouper you see above, with his mouth agape.  I fumbled for my camera as fast as I could and snapped this shot because I was worried he might swim away.  He was probably just as surprised by the encounter as I was.

On Friday the 27th, we revisited the Mixing Bowl, which we first dived the previous Sunday the 22nd.  I didn't take a lot of photos, but I was able to get a few interesting ones.

First was this sequence of shots I got of a Hawksbill turtle that I spotted after we had finished swimming along the reef wall.   I saw the turtle swim down towards this coral formation and stick its head deep inside as if it were trying to get something to eat.

I turned around and swam back to get a better view of it.  The turtle had by then changed position, with its body turned so that it was facing to the right of the direction it is facing in the picture above.  I managed to get right along side of it.

At that point, the turtle became aware of my presence and clearly didn't want to be in the presence of a large human being. 

And away it goes!

It took a lot of patience and failed attempts before I finally bagged this Yellowheaded Jawfish.  They're these cute little fish that dig holes in the ground, and when they feel threatened, they descend tail first into the hole.  Usually if you stay still and wait a few minutes, they'll come back out of the hole.

But the dive still had a surprise left in store for us.

A bunch of us spotted this Southern Stingray hiding himself undernearth the sand, with just his eyes sticking out.   I got myself into position and snapped this photo and then a split second later, the stingray shot up and darted away from us. 

I was able to get this photo of it as it was swimming away from us.

Besides the marine life, I also took a few pictures of some of my fellow divers under the water.

What should have been a good shot of David, Jeff's son, turned out poorly because on my first dive of the trip with the camera, I accidentally selected the option that you would use if the camera had strobes attached, so all of my shots on that dive were not properly lit.  David's turned out somewhat better than the others because he was closer to the surface than the other divers I photographed.

Susie, Larry's wife.  She was the one who organized the trip for us.  Even though Larry sold his dive shop, he and Susie still do dive trips with a bunch of us who were students or customers of his.

Like me, Tara became a regular starting with the Belize trip in 2009.  While she was a beginner like me back then, she has since gone on more trips and racked up more dives than I have. 

Here we have Ira, who I also first met on the Belize trip.

At the beginning of the dive at Mixing Bowl on the 27th, I spotted Larry above upside down blowing bubble rings out of his mouth while I was swimming some distance from the reef wall.  I got in a bit closer and hurried this shot because I didn't know how long he would keep doing it.  Had I been above him, the bubble rings would have been more visible.

I look forward to our next dive trip, which as I might have mentioned in a previous post, will likely also be in Litle Cayman, where I hope to improve my underwater photography skills.

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