Monday, December 31, 2007

Maui, Day 3 - I finally get to dive!

Bob and I went diving today. The weather was terrible. It pretty much rained all morning. There wasn't much of a swell. Our dive boat with twelve divers ended up inside Molikini Crater, my least favorite dive site. The coolest thing is the garden eels. They sit facing into the current eating plankton that floats by. They are really hard to photograph because the closer you get, the further they retreat into their holes.

We did see one more cool fish that I can't identify yet. I had to leave my fish ID books at home to keep within Airline weight allowances.

After these two encounters, I felt like an airliner circling the airport burning fuel until it has a light enough load to land. Eventually I reached 700psi and we went up.

The second dive was a patch reef called Marty's Reef. There was a bit more life here, even though it wasn't overwhelming. There were several cleaning stations, accepting customers both large and small.

There was a nice looking Whitemouth Moray who had wormed himself out from under a big section of coral. He looked like the entire patch reef had been dropped on top of him pinning him in the sand.

And last, a bit of wide angle with this school of Squirrelfish who were hanging over the reef.

They may be named after squirrels, but they sounded like housecats. There was a continuous purring/grunting noise when I was near them. Here is a link to what one squirrelfish sounds like.

Imagine a hundred of them vocalizing at the same time. Apparently the sounds of the squirrelfish is a popular research topic, since Google turned up lots of hits.

So all in all, it wasn't a great day diving, but as they say - "A bad day diving is the still better than a good day at work". I don't know if I will use this dive operation again. Most of the issues were weather related, but I still wasn't impressed by the divemaster/guide. I guess I'll go back to Ed Robinson next time.

Until next time, Mahalo for dropping by and reading my ramblings.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maui, Day 2

Another day without diving - but at least there's snorkeling! Today's turtle count was at least four, maybe five. All in one hour of snorkeling. I saw a couple of new creatures that I hadn't seen before - a scrawled filefish and a couple of nudibranches. My camera battery ran out so I didn't get any pictures of the nudis. Here's a short movie of one of the turtles.

The big moray from Day 1 was still in the same spot. The smaller moray under the coral head was gone, but there was a different species of moray in his hole. Interesting. I wonder who will be there tomorrow.

Here's a daily turtle shot:

The larger eel was right where I left him yesterday.


Maui, Day 1

We got to Maui on Friday afternoon, after a slightly delayed flight. It was delayed enough that I couldn't get into the water until Saturday. The first stop, as always, was snorkeling at Black Rock. We are staying in Kaanapali and Black Rock is a volcanic spit at the end of the beach. It's easy snorkeling and easier diving. You can sea how many people fill the water. Luckily, most of them are weak swimmers and don't go around the point or get close to the rocks where the more interesting life is located.

There are green sea turtles out there almost every time that I visit. In past years, the turtles have been infected with a virus that causes white tumors all over their body. The virus doesn't kill them outright, but it can impair their ability to see, catch food, or eat, which can ultimately kill them. I am happy to say that all four turtles that I spotted appeared completely health.

Some of the turtles sit on the sandy bottom, in about 30 feet of water.

Others wedge themselves under the rocky ledges to sleep. Most snorkelers never even notice these turtles. Everybody's favorites are the ones that are swimming around, usually coming up to get some air. I think the turtles are used to the snorkers because they seem to pretty much ignore them.

Did you know that unicorns really exist? I found an aquatic variety. This is the unicorn fish.

There were even a couple of eels. I'll have to add specific species IDs later.

Last, I saw the cutest little fish of all, Devyn. She is the daughter of a friend of mine. She's quite a good swimmer and likes to show off for the camera.

All of these pictures were shot with a Canon SD700 pocket camera using the Canon underwater housing and the "underwater" scene setting. Not bad for a simple camera.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

This is what a Southern Californian Snowman looks like. Due to a lack of snow, we have to work with what we've got. In this case, it's tumbleweeds. I spotted this guy on the side of El Camino Real in Rancho Santa Fe. He was about 9 feet tall, including his hat.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fiery Sunrise

This morning, the sunrise was particularly orange, due to the smoke from the Poomacha Fire, not far to the south of my house. Happily, all of my friends and family have weathered the fires without loss.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Truth Trip VI

On September 19, 25 intrepid souls set forth from the Seaforth Landing in Santa Barbara, eager to explore the waters surrounding the Channel Islands. Although the adventure was known as "Truth Trip VI", in all truthfulness, we were actual going out on the Vision, sister ship to the Truth. Our itinerary was to start at San Clemente Island, followed by Anacapa Island, and then a stop at the oil platform Grace. We actually ended up at Catalina and Santa Cruz, with no hope of Grace. This change of plan was caused by bad weather that followed us all weekend. Still, even with hail at the surface, we were enjoying the world below.

The storm did stir up the water, decreasing the visibility and making it difficult to take any decent wide angle shots, so most of the trip became a nudibranch hunt. I saw at least ten species, including a few that are shown here. The white on red nudi is a Festive Triton. Below, there is a picture of a very small Spanish Shawl with my glove behind it. This Shawl was only a few millimeters in size. Click on any of the pictures for a larger image and a description.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The story of Sean Penn, official blog mascot

Sean Penn the Octopus is the official mascot of the Underwater Paparazzo blog. Like his Hollywood namesake, Sean got a bit annoyed with the flashing camera of a paparazzo (singular of "paparazzi", you know) and took matters into his own hands (six of them), literally.

I was diving in Honduras off of the island of Roatan. I came across Sean taking a siesta in a crevice under a rock. I took a few photographs, and then a few more, and then maybe a few more. Sean's temper got short and he reached out to grab my camera, probably intent on smashing it into the nearby coral. He actually reached out with six of his arms, covering the front of my camera housing and grabbing on to the various buttons and levers. I would have taken a few more up close and personal photos, but he was holding down the zoom lever on my Oly 5060, keeping me from being able to trip the shutter.

My short photographic career almost over, I fought back, pulling Sean completely out of his crevice. At that point, he decided the best plan was to let go and slither back into his hole.

I kicked Sean Penn's butt. Mano-a-mano. Well, really mano-a-ocho-manos, which would be a lot more impressive if he had been a Giant Pacific Octopus instead of a little Caribbean Octopus.

Welcome to my new blog

Thank you for dropping by my new blog. I look forward to sharing with you the things that I see underwater. I think of this website as a way of freeing more of my photos from imprisonment on my computer's hard drive, a final destination with much resemblance to an electronic Alcatraz. Not only do I plan to share underwater photos, but also stories from some of my trips, gear reviews, and perhaps some events from those periods between dives known as "surface intervals" - those periods spent out of the water earning money to get back into the water, preparing gear for those water adventures, or cleaning up gear from the last trip into the salty underworld.

Once again, thanks for dropping buy. Feel free to leave a comment or two. This whole online sharing thing is a little new to me, so I'm open to suggestions.

P.S. The photo above is a close-up of a starfish, taken at Santa Cruz Island in Southern California. You can click on it to see a larger image.