Thursday, October 14, 2010

Underwater Worms

I have a fascination about the worms that are found in the ocean. The unique ones I've seen don't look like the worms we see here on the earth.

Take for instance the Christmas Tree worms in my previous post. You'd never guess that those critters are actually worms.

Check out this photo that I found on via their Facebook account. I wish I could take credit for it. Maybe one day I will encounter one and be able to photograph it.

In the interim, here is what they call a Magnificent Feather Duster. Here's a write up about this beautiful creature as found on Oceana:
"The only part of this worm that is normally visible is a beautiful fan of feathery tentacles. The worm’s segmented body is hidden inside a soft, flexible tube that it builds tucked beneath rocks or in a coral crevice or buried in sand. The tentacles are in two whorls and are usually banded brown and white. They are normally extended into the water to filter out plankton, but at the slightest vibration or disturbance, such as the exhalation of a scuba diver, the worm instantly retracts the tentacles down into the safety of the tube."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christmas Tree worms fascinate me. If you approach them too quickly, they disappear in a flash. But don't take my word for it, watch this short video I took at a depth of 85 feet off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Diving with Charleston Scuba

We went out with Charleston Scuba to dive on the Little Garden Ledges. Surprisingly there were more women divers on the boat than I can remember in quite some time. I enjoyed that fact immensely. The surface was relatively calm with a breeze and light chop. We encountered some rain at one point, but it was refreshing and brief.

The Little Garden Ledges were amazing and I wish we'd had more time to explore them. Lee found some great fossilized shells. I took spent my time taking close up photos, due to a high level of particles in the water and extremely low visibility.

Michelle Tallerico was our dive master. It's always awesome to go out when she is on the boat. She is fun, knowledgeable, sweet and kind. Tom Robinson, co-owner of Charleston Scuba, drove us on his wonderful boat, the Trinity. Tom adds color, knowledge and experience to his charters like none other.

Take a look at some of my photos. (I can't wait until next season to get my strobe; it will help show the true beauty and colors.) There is more commentary at the end of the photos being displayed.

Spiny Sea Urchin
Bait fish

Sponge (it was squishy to the touch)
Baby Hogfish

Baby Queen Angel
Sheep Head Fish
Look for the Fish and Christmas Tree Worms...
Basket Sponge
Giant Amber Jack

Look for the tropical fish... do you see it?

Giant shell Lee found with my light shining on it
Looks like a spider to me, but I was told it is an Anchor Crab

Giant Queen Angel - was really faded out in person - thinking it is at the terminal phase


White Basket Sponge
Sea Urchin with my light shining on it

I also spent my time clearing my mask and dealing with burning eyes. This was not fun. In fact, it was downright miserable by the second dive. But I learned something valuable. When one cleans their mask by taking out the purge valve - not all masks have these - make sure you put it back in correctly. An upside down purge valve causes your mask to leak like there is no tomorrow.

Any day diving is a good day. I'm looking forward to where Lee and I go diving next.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Underwater Photography

It has been a long time since I posted anything here. So without further verbiage, let me post some of my recent diving photos. These were taken off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida, which is South of West Palm Beach.

Me under the sea
Moon Jelly Fish

Butterfly fish

Two Butterfly fish

Beautiful Queen Angel

Another Queen Angel - see the "crown" on her head?

Sea Anenome (this is typically where you see clown fish)

Looking up to the surface from 85 feet below

A school of fish

A very healthy reef... look at all that growth

The Grey Angels are so beautiful

Can you see the fish? It's iridescent blue

The fish is a cow fish

Blue Tangs are among my favorite

If you look in the distance you can see the spade fish

More Blue Tang

Do you see the eel?

Grey Angel

I love diving and seeing all of God's creations

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Days Everything Is A Lesson

After our trip to Boynton Beach, Lee and I decided to do some black water diving. This type of diving occurs in the Cooper River up by Goose Creek and Cypress Gardens, which is about 45 minutes north of where I live in Mt. Pleasant. And it's called black water diving because there zero visibility for the most part. The water is brackish, meaning a combination of salt and fresh water.

At this point you may ask why on earth we would want to go diving where you can't see anything. And my answer, with a BIG smile, is because it is not about the diving. Diving is simply the means to the end. You see, it is about treasure hunting. With persistence, you can find wonderful things in the river. These finds can range from prehistoric fossils, such as Megalodon teeth, to Civil War artifacts. Once you find your first one, it becomes intoxicating and you're hooked. (If you follow us on Facebook, you've seen the many photos we've posted of our finds.)

Little did we realize as we embarked upon this adventure that we would experience a day full of lessons. It started with me realizing I'd left my goody bag (what you use to collect your finds in when you're diving) at home. This realization occurred to me long after it was too late to drive back and get it. Next we discovered that we'd left our weight bags on the dock, after we were way down the river and couldn't go back. (Are you seeing a pattern here? Just wait, it gets better...)

Our wonderful, boat captain, Johnny Cercopely of Cooper River Dive Charters was more than accommodating. He provided us with weights to slip into the pockets of our BCD. He even called back to the dock to ensure no one took our weight bags, which would have been rather costly to replace. And Johnny loaned me a goody bag.

Upon setting up my tank, BCD and regulators, I heard air leaking. Several tests and tank changes later, we thought we had fixed the problem. My giant stride off the back of the boat proved not to be so giant. My tank hit the edge of the back platform of the boat, followed by my posterior hitting the top of the Christmas tree shaped ladder. This was immediately followed by my fin coming off and floating down the river. (We were having some fun now!)

Other entertaining aspects of this wild ride included: Lee's mask breaking, a strong current that drug an underwater diver (that would be me) all over the bottom of the river causing me to bail out of the dive... I could continue on but I'll close by saying that Lee and I counted 14 things that occurred in error that day.

While this was easily the worst day of diving I have ever experienced, we learned many lessons. And hopefully, knock on wood, this will be the last day of repetitive diving mishaps for the rest of this dive season. Some days everything is a lesson...

Oh, on a happy note, there was a young boy from Chicago who was diving the river for the first time. He was so excited to go diving for fossils and wasn't having much success during his dives. (Go figure... LOL) Lee and I shared the majority of our findings with him. Not to be cliche' but we had to follow the credo that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Besides - we're just nice like that, if i do say so myself. :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Drift Diving off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida

Lee and I kicked off our dive season with a bang. Early on May 28, we packed the rental car with our dive gear and listened to XM's Laugh USA on and off during the 10-hour drive to Boynton Beach, Florida. (Boynton is just past West Palm Beach off the Atlantic Ocean.)

With four dives ahead of us, stopping in local dive stores like Diver's Direct made our adventure come alive. (If you're not a diver, think about planning for a vacation or something else that gets you excited and you'll know what we mean.)

We dove with Underwater Explorers. Lee found them through recommendations on Scuba Board. (Scuba Board is an online community with divers from around the globe and forums on an array of diving topics.) I quickly learned that their 34-foot Crusader was really designed for back rolls and not giant strides. But after doing it the first time, I was hooked and wondered why I've only done it in my dive training classes.

Basket Sponge
Basket Sponges

All four of our drift dives were amazing. In fact, I found the underwater reefs to be as scenic - if not more - as the ones we've dove in the Keys. The first two dives exposed a veritable forest of basket sponges. (Typically, I've seen only one or two every mile or so, not hundreds.)

We saw a plethora of fish, including:

Moray Eel

Blue Tang (my favorite)

Cow Fish in Basket Sponge

French Angel

Loggerhead Turtle Under a Ledge

Rock Beauty

Hawksbill Turtle

Two French Angels

I hope the rest of our dives this season are as amazing as these four dives!