Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Diving on the Eureka Oil Platform

I've been a little slow to add photos, so thanks for checking back. I'm going to try and add photos more often in the future.

Last weekend, Scuba Center Temeula chartered The Bottom Scratcher for a three tank trip. The ultimate destination was the Eureka Oil Platform, but we first stopped at Izor's Reef along the way.

Izor's Reef is an artificially created fishing reef. It is in 100ft of water, but the structre can rise 20 feet above the sand. The reef is made from concrete poles that are about 2ft square and up to 50 feet long - or longer. There were many small fish and schools of juveniles, particularly blacksmiths. There were many White Plumed Anemones (Metridium) which are also common on the HMCS Yukon, a sunken wreck in San Diego.

After one deep dive, we headed over to the Eureka Oil Platform. The Eureka is 9 miles out of Long Beach, in 700ft of water.

Most of my two dives were spent at 55ft where there were horizonal structural element that stretched between the legs of the platform.

This Sheephead had some pretty gnarly teeth.

My occasional dive buddy Bill Kibbett.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Roatan - Day 5, continued

"Won't cha take me back down to blennie city"

There were nine of these little fellas in a five inch piece of
encrusted railing on the Prince Albert. The PA is a sunken freighter
right in front of the resort. It is about one-hundred feet long and is
in about sixty-five feet of water. It is covered with a lot of coral
growth and sea life. The blennies can be found just about anywhere
that you care to look on the upper parts of the ship.

Roatan - Day 5, continued


Roatan - Day 5, continued

Even better, several eel photos. This spotted eel is getting his chin
tickled by a yellowline arrow crab.

Roatan - Day 5

Another day, another four dives!

No tropical dive photolog would be complete without an eel photo.

Roatan - Day 4, continued

Tonight, some local children came to the resort to perform traditional
Honduran dances. Besides performing for tourists (which helps raise
money for the program), they also compete against other dance groups.
Honduran children are very good looking.

Roatan - Day 4, continued

Hummingbirds are very numerous around the reset. There were ten of
them fighting over two feeders.

Roatan - Day 4

This is a squirrel fish. You might remember them from my last Maui
posts. He wasn't doing anything special, but I like the look on his

Roatan - Day 3, continued

A busy reef scene with a variety of coral and fish.

Roatan - Day 3, continued

We spent the surface interval (the rest period between dives) at a
shallow spot between two small cays (islands). There were some
mangrove trees along the shore. I made this wide-angle over/under shot
using my 8 inch dome. This is one of the things that you can only do
with an SLR and not with a compact camera. You can see the mangrove
trees on top and a school of small fish below. It is impossible to get
both in focus without a special half filter. Still, I'm happy with
with the results.

Roatan - Day 3

Although this photo is from Tuesday, today is actually Saturday and we
are waiting for our transportation to the airport. I dove four dives
on most days, each an hour long, for a total of twenty dives. That's
half if a work week that I spent underwater. Its amazing how tiring
that can be. I haven't really had much time (or energy) to post photos.

Speaking of work, Melodie found me a t-shirt that says "Get a job...or
dive. You chose!" It seemed very appropriate considering my
unemployed status. If it wasn't for obligations in Temecula, I would
probably choose to dive and travel the world for a year.

The bar/dining room has wifi so it is easy to check email on my
iPhone. I'm sending these posts from my iPhone. It looks like the
formatting is a little off, so I'll have to fix it later.

Below is a head-on shot of a peacock flounder. They are really good at
blending into the sand, but not as good when they are on the rocks and
coral. You can see his protruding eyes. One of the divers kicked him
with her fins, chasing him off. I imagined him exclaiming "Oh my
protruding eyeballs!" as he swam away.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Roatan - Day 2, continued

Sea horses are one of the favorite things to see here. They come in
all kinds of colors and are difficult to find, even if you know where
to look. This is the only one that we have seen so far.

Roatan - Day 2, continued

I've been working on my wide angle skills, particularly in getting the
bottom side of the water surface to look nice. This is one of my best
shots so far.

Roatan - Day 2, continued

Divers on the reef! Most of the diving is wall diving which means
that we dive along vertical coral walls that go down to over 100 feet.
Usually, we go along at about 60-70 feet until we use half of a tank
and then we come back across the top which is usually 30-40 feet deep.

Roatan - Day 2

I seem to be on a shrimp theme. Here are a couple more banded coral
shrimp in a tube sponge.

Roatan - Day 1, continued

Here is another kind of shrimp - a Pederson's Cleaner Shrimp. I saw
the shrimp cleaning a fish. After the fish spooked, I stuck in a
finger and got my cuticles trimmed (seriously - but I couldn't take a
one handed photo of the manicure). If you look really closely, you
might see some eggs in it's transparent abdomen.

Roatan - Day 1

The Temecula Valley Dive Club is in Roatan, Honduras, for our summer
trip. We have 41 people here - 40 divers and 1 non-diver. Melodie, the
non-diver is enjoying some down time after our three week European
tour, which ended just 8 days before this trip (thank you Guidant!).
The diving is good, as usual. The Nikon D-80 is behaving well and I'm
happy to own a second DS-125 strobe. This first shot is of a banded
coral shrimp in a big barrel sponge. The shrimp hide in the crevices.
It is easiest to find them
By noticing their long white antennae sticking out of the sides of the
sponge. This one was actually on the bottom side of a sponge. You can
see a few of my air bubbles that were trapped.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Classic Photo Post

I haven't been diving in a few weeks, but I am going out tomorrow night. Local reports say that the La Jolla shores area has been cold (mid to high 40s) with good visibility. It should be a good night.

Here is a classic photo from right after I got my Nikon D80. In fact, I think that this was from my first outing with the camera. I took the photo at Casino Point at Catalina. The subject is a Garibaldi, the state marine fish of California. Garibaldis are a form of angelfish. They are fearless and willing photo models. Its a good thing that they are a protected species, because it would be easy to catch a lot of them. The lens used was the Nikon 60mm macro.

Bobcat Update

I haven't seen Bob in a week. I hope that he is doing well. In eight years of living here, he is the first bobcat that I have seen. Coincidentally, one of my friends in a neighborhood a couple of miles into the city (Paseo del Sol, for you locals) saw a bobcat last month.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bobcat watch!

I've got a new neighbor! He's Bob the Bobcat. Okay, so it's not a very original name. I also call him Kitty, as in "Here, Kitty, Kitty. I want to take your photo." I first noticed something unusual when I found some clumps of fur in the backyard. Then, on Friday, I was sitting in the kitchen when I saw a large cat walk across the patio. Bob isn't particularly large, but he is a bit larger than the biggest domestic cat, but he's still small for his species. Maybe he is a youngster. I then saw him on Saturday afternoon. He passed by the third time on Sunday evening.

The picture below is the first picture that I took, through the sliding glass door. You can see his stumpy tail. You can also see how tall Bob is compared to my barbecue island. Bob walked past the island and then turned back to see what the noise was when I came outside. That's when I took the above picture.

You can find out more about Bobcats at Bobcat Information.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A few pictures of me

These photos are by my dive buddy Jeff Rose on the Truth VI Trip late last year. You can see how big my camera is.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Diving on the Bottom Scratcher

I got to go diving last week, only the second time since Maui. The local dive shop (Scuba Center Temecula) chartered the Bottom Scratcher out of Long Beach. The BS is one of our local favorite. The Captain, Greg, is a grizzled old coot with the pleasant habit of encouraging the divers to start their first dive by playing "Danny Boy" on his bagpipes. It sounds a bit like a funeral dirge, not exactly the way to start the day.

On the first dive, I found a new creature, the Mantis Shrimp. People say that this large shrimp has claws so strong and sharp that they can cut off a finger or shatter your camera lens.

I also spotted a Pacific Angel Shark hiding under the sand. Our presence disturbed him a little, so he shook off the sand and swam further into the kelp.

On the next dive, I found three Horn Sharks hidden in rocky crevices all within about twelve feet of each other. The first two were larger (up to 3 feet) and darker in color. The last one was young and spotted. This is the second one. Isn't he cute!

The Brittle Starfish all had one or two arms below the sand and their remaining arms sticking into the air to catch dinner.

Of course there were a few nudibranches. This one is called a Peltodoris mullineri.

We also found quite a few endangered Abalone. One of them was as big as two spread hands.

Thanks are due to everybody who put up with me for the first few dives. I was a little under the weather until a couple of Excedrin and a glass of water perked me up. I claim it was a mild case of sea sickness, but it might have been those beers and tequila with Tex and the guys in Long Beach the night before. Might have been, but probably not. :)

They're coming to America!

While scuba diving on a boat out of Long Beach, California, I saw this transport ship headed into the harbor. The Texas Highway is called a Ro/Ro car carrier - "Roll on, roll off". Built in 2003, it carries up to 6,043 vehicle. Wow!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Whale Watching in Maui

WARNING: This post contains a large number of whale photos. If you don't like whales, feel free to move along. There's probably a blog about housecats somewhere nearby.

On our last whole day in Maui, we went out whale watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation on their boat the Ocean Explorer. This is my favorite non-raft or RIB boat. It seats about 40 with most of the seats up front. Whale Foundation members get to board first and choose their seats (and at a discount, too, so be sure to join).

The whales were more active than I have ever seen. We had been seeing lots of them from the hotel balcony and beach, so we had high hopes. We quickly found solo whales and small groups to watch. We would find them by spotting their spouts and calling them out to the crew.

Most of the time, we would just end up with a presentation of the tale, if anything.

Sometimes the whales like to wave and slap their pectoral fins. Kind of a humpback hello.

This whale was cruising along on his side. You can see his tail sticking out of the water behind his pectoral fin.

This whale was fun. It was barrel-rolling through the water. It would roll onto one side and slap that fin, keep rolling onto its back raising the other fin, and then slapping the second fin on the water. This whale made several rolls. This photo was taken when the whale was on its back.

Of course everybody's favorite moment is when the whales "breach", or jump out of the water like in the next sequence of photos. They sometimes launch their entire body (except for their tail) out of the water.

I caught this one as it was crashing into the water onto its back. Although it looks like it is smiling, its really upside down.

And finally, here is a whale waving goodbye.

As we head back to the harbor (and were unable to pursue whales), we saw two or three whales doing a series of ten breaches in less than two minutes. It was an impressive display.