Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Dive Pics

When I got to the Grotto Sunday morning, I was shocked that there were only two divers who were already done with their dive, and the parking lot was empty otherwise. That meant I had the Grotto all to myself. When I don't have to worry about other divers, I will take advantage of the opportunity and look some places that I wouldn't otherwise. I like looking under the shelf of the rock you jump off of, sometimes you see unique nudibranchs just barely below the waterline, but you really don't want another diver jumping on your head which is the reason I only look there when nobody else is around. I was pretty surprised though when the first thing I saw was a Halgerda guahan, about 6" below the waterline and right on the front of the rock. I knew that they came in fairly shallow, but had no idea they went that shallow. Good information to know and to tuck away for later reference. When I went out of the Grotto, this green sea turtle was waiting for me in exactly the same spot as the day before. As long as you move slowly and don't appear threatening, turtles will usually let you get fairly close for pictures and don't even seem to mind letting you swim in the general vicinity. Now I could easily spend my entire dive just becoming a turtle and swimming off into the open ocean with these guys, but I have nudibranchs to find and have to remind myself of that. I keep seeing Mike Ernest out walking, and I keep telling him he should be diving instead. He wants to see one of these Leaf Scorpionfish very badly, but has only seen one once and then couldn't take any pictures because his camera fogged up. I've been having pretty good luck spotting them lately, as this is my 3rd one in the last couple months. This guy was hanging out between rocks outside of the Grotto. The first time you see one, you probably won't recognize it as a fish because they blend in so well with their surroundings. And if they move, they just look like a leaf blowing in the currents, so even that doesn't give them away. But once you've seen a few of them, you start knowing what to look for and the kind of places you're most likely to find them. This is definitely one of my favorite photo subjects, I just think they are very cool looking. Sometimes this is what you will first see of a Leaf Scorpionfish though, they will have their head tucked down toward the hole they are hiding in, so you'll just see part of their body, and one of their little fins sticking out to the side if you're lucky. Color is not always a giveaway either. You'd think that because this guy is such a bright shade of pink he would be easy to spot, but at the depth I saw him at, that color wasn't showing up at all. It was only the flash of the camera that brought out his real colors. I have seen Leaf Scorpionfish now that are brown, pink and yellow. I'm not sure how many other color varieties there are, but I definitely have my eyes open for them. I just can't seem to resist taking at least a few pictures of the orange sea fans, especially when I can get the blue ocean in the background. The beauty underwater really is amazing, it's just a matter of recognizing it when you see it. I'm always amazed that dive guides take their tourists to the Grotto without flashlights. If you don't have a flashlight on a Grotto dive, you will miss some of the most amazing scenery down there.

I did have one or two more pictures I wanted to add to this post, but blogger doesn't seem to be cooperating, so I guess they'll have to wait til tomorrow. And yes, I did see plenty of nudibranchs on this dive, including a very impressive Halgerda johnsonorum, but you'll have to wait til tomorrow to see him. Also I just got my new Canon EOS Digital Rebel 400D XTi, so I'll be starting to throw in some pictures from that as well. I am very excited about getting it, and think it will definitely expand my range of subjects.