Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Virtual Dive

I had so many good dives and took so many awesome pictures that I decided it was time for another virtual dive for you, especially for those of you having to deal with snow and winter right now. I saw this baby dogfaced pufferfish outside of the Grotto Sunday morning. He was playing hide and seek with me in a hole. He didn't want to come right out and let me get a full picture, but he did come far enough out to capture the cute face at least.
Of course it wouldn't be one of my dives without a nice assortment of nudibranchs. This guy was perched on top of this little outcropping of rock, they are only about an inch long so you really have to be looking carefully to spot them. When I do manage to spot one, I'll spend 5-10 minutes with him just shooting a bunch of different shots and different angles to see which ones come out the best. This is probably the most common nudibranch that I see on my dives, I think it's a Phyllidia Varicosa. The purple bumps actually look green underwater without light directly on them. You will see these guys just cruising around on the bottom and on rocks. But again you have to look closely, they aren't very big.
As I was just skimming the bottom outside of the Grotto I caught this attempted murder on camera. The colorful crab in the top shell was trying to kill the spider conch in the bottom shell so he could move into a bigger house. Was this just another case of shell envy or did the crab really have need of a bigger house? I don't really know, but I did carry the crab about 50 yards away and I set the spider conch on the base so he could crawl away.
I was also very excited this weekend to discover a couple Halgerda guahan and malesso's back in the Grotto. I haven't seen any of them for about 3 months now, so it was a very cool sighting for me. I'm thinking that they may vacation in Tinian for the winter months and have just started their return. I don't know if they go into hibernation for a while or what, but it's great to have them back out to photograph once again.
I was really excited when I discovered this Halgerda malesso in the same general area as the guahan. This is my favorite nudibranch to photograph. I love the design on it and the way it contrasts with the deep blue of the ocean in the background. I think they start kicking in with their mating season again in June or July, so that's when to start really looking for them. Right now they are still an unexpected surprise whenever you stumble across one.
I was just floating fairly shallow outside the Grotto burning off my decompression time when I found myself in the middle of this school of Tuna. I could have sworn that I saw Charlie in the middle of it. It's always an awesome feeling to be completely surrounded by fish like this though, especially when they're all fairly good size.
Another thing I always enjoy taking pictures of are the big sweeping orange sea fans that are inside and outside of the Grotto. If you see them in the Grotto without a light, they will just look dark, and you don't realize what a vibrant orange color they really are. But when the flash of the camera goes off, all the sudden you get an idea of just how spectacular they really are.

I also enjoy capturing them with the blue of the ocean showing through when you take a close up of them. I hope you've enjoyed this little virtual dive, I'll post a few more dive pictures over the next day or so, and then it's off to Bali for 10 days. Kelli and I will be doing a little diving down there and of course taking a ton of pictures. I'll try to make a couple posts while I'm down there, but I'll have tons of pictures to post when I get back.


Steve said...

Nice pics. The puffer was cool looking, we don't have that particular type here in Hawaii.

Jake said...

i'm loving the work of this new camera! i didn't think your pictures could get any better, but amazingly, they have! wow.