Monday, February 6, 2017

Mabini Day 3

By now waking up, breakfast, and loading the boat was becoming a routine.

Dive #8 Kanto Bahura

This was a wall dive with a bit of current. The wall was from ~5-10m all the way down to ~30-40 meters. The current brought food, and many fish were out feeding in the water column.

After about 20min we reach the corner of the wall. Here Abbet points to large fish that go over our head.

At the corner we hit strong current.  It takes a while to get ourselves straightened out. By this time most of the group is low on air. Abbet, raises a signal, and we hang on the line waiting for the safety stop. This is a good excuse for some pictures.

Dive #9 Beatrize/Beatrice

This dive site is just next to Sombrero site we visited yesterday (just a bit further from the island).
This dive I am mostly focused on capturing the landscape. The area has coral pillars and large barrel sponges. All are surrounded by corals everywhere in between. A wonderful coral garden.

A large green frogfish pretends we can't see it.

I find a large anemone and photograph it.

Abbet signals a find. This is a weird brown short arm anemone and on it resting two half-transparent shrimps.

The last few minutes of the dive I spend on a nudibranch perched on a pinecone-like tunicate.

As I finish with it, Noa points to a pair of similar nudibranches actively mating. They are hiding in a coral overhang. Sadly, after two shots, my camera is out of battery.

I am low on air, and slowly ascend to the safety stop.

We return to the club for lunch and some rest. After lunch I replace the batteries in the camera and the strobes. After that, I do checks to see that the camera can be operated (sitting correctly in the housing), that the strobe synchronize and such. As I do my test shot, I head a sharp noise, as thought the strobe discharged too much. I realize that the strobes are set to max output, and I did not reduce that before test shot. I try again, and I notice that one of the strobes is not responding. The “ready” light is on, but the strobe is not flashing. To make a long story (replacing batteries, letting it rest for a while, etc) shorter, the strobe is not working.
I later found out that the flash tube shuddered and that this is a not-uncommon failure of this particular model. The good news is that changing the flash tube is much cheaper than buying a new strobe.
I dismantle one of the strobe arms, and remain with a single arm camera. Since we next are going for a wide angle location and then I a night dive, I decide to put my backup camera (older model) in one housing with the fisheye lens, and then newer camera with macro lens. I will swap the strobe arm between them.

Dive #10 Cathedral

This site is just next to the resort. And the ride is five minutes. The name is due to a cross that sits at depth of 17meter between two large walls of rock.
I roll off the boat first and go down to a shallow coral garden. I realize I forgot my dive computer on the boat (attached to the housing of the newer camera). I go up to retrieve it. By the time I secured it on my wrist, the rest of the group is down. I follow them a bit behind.  As I come nearer I see Ayelet swimming after a sea turtle toward my left. This gave me the opportunity to intercept their trajectory and take pictures of the turtle swimming toward me. As I swim I turn on the camera, correct the setting and check the flash, actions I usually take when I enter the water. I was surprised that I did this semi-automatically while swimming and keeping track of the turtle and Ayelet. 

After few pictures, we give up on following the turtle. I see an impressive purple sea anemone. I take one picture, but the group is impatient to continue the dive.

We go down slope and reach the cross. It paints an impressive picture against the light from the afternoon sun.

Abbet takes around the steep pillars flanking the cross. The rocks here are decorated with yellow and green corals, and is full of life.

I find that I need to work harder to use the fisheye lens (which I took for this dive) and a single strobe. I have to be careful to get proper illumination of the wide scenes.

When we return to the cross, Abbet takes us along the slope. This area is a rock garden with many stone corals. These are not as fancy as the ones we usually see, but they display multiple shapes and patterns.

We run across a small school of barracudas.

By the time we near the boat the sun is low on the horizon and provide nice background for photographs.

We sail to our next dive site. We sit on the boat waiting for the sun to go down.

Dive #11 Bosco

This area is a gentle sandy slope. We start going along the slope (and downwards) looking for small animals. There are many anemone and sea-pens that come out at night from the sand. On some of them we find small hidden crabs.

We have a short encounter with a sepia cuttlefish.

Abbet finds another shrimp on one of the colorful sea urchins. I then find a crab on another one.

I find a weird sea-star. It seems that have regenerated from a single arm.

Toward the end of the dive we run into an octopus. It is busy exploring the shallow area of the slope, and pretty much ignores us.