Thursday, September 8, 2011

Octopus Eats Shark

Check out this amazing footage of a shark being captured and eaten by an octopus. If you turn the sound on after about a minute and 1/2 in you'll hear some amazing facts about what you're watching.

Octopus Eats Shark by stevanhogg

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baby Loggerhead

Check out this video taken locally on Folly Beach. The video shows a baby turtle, one of about 70 loggerheads, that made it safely into the ocean on the west side of Folly Beach. The videographer said it was a 7:30 a.m. hatching, after which the turtles made their way to the ocean in the early morning light.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Diving Addiction

Check out my first post on Charleston Scuba's new blog. This post is called "The Diving Addiction."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Amazing beauty

I'm enamored by all the beauty that can be found in the depths of the ocean. This video, shot in the waters surrounding the Soccoro Islands, is mesmerizing. But don't take my word for it; press play and take in the gracefulness of the manta rays and beauty of the white tip reef sharks.

Take a quick break and watch this ~four min. video. Hopefully you'll find it as relaxing as I do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Seven from Saturday's Dive

Saturday I ventured to Murrell's Inlet to dive with Express Watersports. The drive is easy and typically takes about an hour and 1/2 - - if you go the speed limit. (Let's just say on the way back to Charleston I did, but on the way there I made really good time in the early morning hours.)

It had been about a year since I'd gone diving with this shop. They are definitely good people and have an amazing store with their boat docked directly across the street from the shop. And of course, I'm drawn to their Golden Retriever who has been there faithfully each time I've visited over the years.

Any day I go diving is a good day for me. But some dives are better than others. This day of diving led me to creating this Top Seven. So let's take a giant stride in...

ONE: Enjoy the ride. When it is overcast and the seas have 3-5 foot swells, consider it an adventure; a very wet one but hey, you're on a DIVE BOAT!

TWO: Be flexible. Just because you're expecting to go to one dive site (Bruce's Rush Reef) and end up at another (Tugboat / Airplane) - it isn't the end of the world. (Some friends I've gone diving with in the past have gotten all bent when the dive site changed.<--You know who are you are!)

THREE: Make new friends. Newbie divers (a lot of them) were on this 46 ft. Newton and many were nervous. It was fun talking to them before and after they went on their first ocean dive. Gotta love making new friends with people that share your passion for diving.

FOUR: Spend time with old ones. I was delighted to see Bryan and Crystal on the boat. There is nothing like the unexpected surprise of diving with old friends (from Charleston) when you're in a town away from home.

FIVE: Don't believe everything you hear.: The DM (Dive Master) on this trip must have a day job in marketing or public relations. Why? Because when he surfaced after anchoring us into the site, his dive briefing was... well, let's just say a bit stretched. He said, "There is great viz down there. I could even see the wreck when I first jumped in." Ummmm, yes, you could see the boat but the massive amounts of particulate in the water kinda negated that - dontcha think?! LOL (Most of my pictures looked like it was snowing underwater.)

SIX: Practice makes perfect. I was told that my new underwater strobe would involve a steep learning curve. Never a truer statement was made. With each dive I continue to learn more and more. This time I learned that setting the strobe on F is BAD and will blow out your photos with too much light. Practice makes perfect... Can't wait to see what happens after I've practiced a lot more. 

SEVEN: Look for surprises. As we were swimming around the tugboat, I peered inside to see what critters might be waiting to have their photo taken. Much to my surprise, I found a "fish" I've never seen while diving in the ocean. I think they call it the "shopping cart fish," but I'll have to do more research before I'm sure. (The picture didn't come out as I had hoped but you'll get the idea.)

Check out the photos from Saturday's Murrell's Inlet dive and be sure come back next week to see what I capture when I dive with Charleston Scuba this weekend. (Hint: A photo of me is last in the line up.)

The fins of my dive buddies: Bryan & Crystal

One of my dive buddies: Crystal
Bryan being a ham. You can't quite tell with the bright light but he took out his regulator so he could stick out his tongue at me. LOL
Lovebirds, er I mean, my two dive buddies. (Aren't they cute together?!)
Do you see the "shopping cart fish" that was inside the hull of the scuttled ship?

Part of the scuttled plane.
That's the butt end of a loggerhead turtle hiding in the nose of the plane.
This could have been a cool shot. It is a ladder leading from the deck into the hull of the ship.
Vibrant growth

Do you see the Toad Fish? (Psst - don't touch it, it is poisonous.)
Growth on the barge.
Guess who?!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Plan B

In the world of diving, one must always have a Plan B. Why? Because there are many reasons for a dive not to occur. A month ago I was excited to do my first dive of the "season," only to have it called off due to turbulent seas.

This weekend my dive was called off because not enough divers had signed on to go. It takes so much gas to dive off the coast of Charleston, you have to have a profitable balance of divers to even take the boat out. Charleston Scuba's Sunday dive is full but no one from the Sunday dive trip was willing to go on Saturday. C'est la vie!

Of course, I immediately called other dive options, such as Express Watersports in Murrell's Inlet, which is about an hour and 1/2 +/- drive. But they were only going out to an artificial reef sitting in a depth of 45 feet. So, I didn't feel like it was worth the drive.

My Plan B has turned into a morning to sleep in and relax. Since the majority of my chores are done, I'm thinking about going for a bike ride. Now I just have to decide where I will spin my wheels.

While I'd rather be diving, I guess, I'll just have to settle for exploring the roadways of Charleston. The only thing that would be better is if my parents were close enough to go visit.

Guess Plan B is just a fact of life. :-) What do you do when your dive plan calls for a Plan B?

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Perfect Diving Adventure

The water was flat. The Trinity contained nothing but Nitrox tanks and advanced divers. With great anticipation about what would be found on the upcoming wrecks, the divers prepped their gear while Captain Tom expertly drove the boat through the Charleston Harbor out to sea.

The latter sounds like the beginning of a fictional story, but it really happened this Memorial Day. In fact, I would have to say I found it to be an absolutely perfect diving adventure. You see, in addition to the awesome conditions, the boat was perfectly balanced. Two people canceled at the last minute but still had to pay (due to the 48 cancellation policy), which made it a win-win for everyone. Tom and Sally didn't lose any money and we had more space to knock around on the boat. (And we had some really fun people to dive and hang out with on board.)

A uneventful two-hour boat ride set us over our first dive site - the tugboats. This artificial reef was created in 1995 when Captain Tom joined one of his friends to intentionally sink a tugboat off the coast of Charleston.

Tom recounted the event to me as we sped out to the site. The most striking point was when he recalled standing on the deck as it filled with water from the open valves. He was ready to evacuate, but his friend encouraged him to stay for a bit to experience the sinking before bailing to safety. (The emotion he felt had to be intense.)

Today the tug sits in 105 feet of water. With parts still intact, divers can easily navigate through the wheelhouse and "walk" on the deck. Peering into portholes, the tugboat's hull and parts unknown, this underwater photographer was in heaven. The growth on the tugboat was thick and full of vibrant colors. Fish of all kinds were in abundance.

The second site we dove on is the USCG Comanche, a former icebreaker used on the Great Lakes. Scuttled (deliberately sunk) in 1992, this 165-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter provided me with an exhilarating dive site. The top of the boat can be reached at about 80 feet and the bottom at 110 feet. (This has to be my favorite dive sites, to date!)

The visibility on both of these sites varied but was still great for taking photos. From the heat of the surface to the cool depths of the ocean,  my camera lens was full of a light condensation due to the rapid change in temperature. But after after a few minutes on the tugboat, the temps leveled out and my photos came into focus. (A photo bucket was used in between dives to ensure that didn't happen on the Comanche.)

I maintained a depth of 92-97 feet for most of my bottom time, with an occasional drift down to 101 at maximum depth. My 5MM wetsuit was perfect as the 68-72 degree temps were quite brisk.

Personally, I can't wait to dive on these sites again. Until that time, I'll just have to revisit my photos to relive it...

Amberjack on the deck of the Comanche.
This photo shows how far my strobe casts light.
My dive buddy, Sally Robinson!

This is a ladder encrusted with corral.

You have no idea how fast this little damsel fish moves. I'm proud of these two shots.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Anchor Wreck

I was fortunate enough to dive the Anchor Wreck again on Saturday with my adopted Charleston Scuba family. This amazing dive site was created when a yet-to-be identified ship sank near Bull's Bay off the coast of Charleston in the mid- to late-1800s.

Not much is left of the 300 ft. freighter, thought by some to have carried some type of perishable cargo such as bananas or sugar. Sitting in 105 feet of water, the double boilers can be accessed at about 80 feet.

While most boat captains are secure in the fact that the wreck has yet to be identified, others think the Anchor Wreck may be the Norwegian steamship called the Leif Erickson. After listening to Captain Tom share how they i.d. wrecks, I'm sticking with his view that it has yet to be identified.

Regardless of what the ship is, this is a marvelous dive for advanced divers. To get there one must sustain a long boat ride (2 hours and 40 minutes one-way, give or take the surface conditions), but it is well worth it for seasoned divers and underwater photographers.

I found the wreck to be covered with lot of vibrant growth. It was surrounded by giant, somewhat aggressive amberjack and walls of bait fish so thick you had to push through them to actually see the wreck. There were tons of flounders trying to camouflage themselves all over the wreck. And reticulated moray eels peering out of crevices were everywhere you looked.

I stayed at about 92-97 feet the majority of my bottom time. Nitrox made this possible, as did being surrounded by expert divers like Dive master Tim Schmitz. The water temp hovered between 68-72 degrees at depth, so the thermolclines felt wonderful. I'm SO glad I decided to wear my 5MM wetsuit.

This was a great way to kick off the dive season and try out my new strobe. But don't take my word for it, let my pictures do the talking. (Be sure to click on each one so you can view up close and really see what is in each photo.)