Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Off topic, Humming Birds

Here's a link to a series of photos of a Humming Bird on her nest, her eggs, her babies. The final picture is amazing, be sure to click 'next page' to see the whole series.


Oh, dear, not a hot link, I don't know how to make it work, booo. But worth a copy/paste effort.

Got myself in trouble with that quiz yesterday, hey?!

.OK, I have seven. BB, let me know about the other four! I'll start with my True Love, polyps. These are M. annularis, Boulder Star Coral। This coral grows in four different different formations, some flat plate, some boulder, some lobed, some mountainous. Recently Scientists have agreed to give them sub-group names because of this difference. OK?
This coral looks like this:
I named this coral Greenie, because seeing it like this it appear really a dark, rich green color. This is the mountainous form. I have a film photo from fifteen years ago when the barrel sponge on top was half this size, smaller than the coral. Sponges grow quickly sometimes. I fiddled with the color balance, but couldn't get it to look right. So much for digital, it has its limits.

So yesterday, I got smart and posted a photo similar to this next one, and said, "Can you count the number of different kinds of animals, and plants, in this photo?" And now I'm working on this post for two hours. Never again! lol

.This is the sponge. After I'd cropped it, and was planning to comment on the silt, I saw two faces! One on the right snarling wih a mouth full of silt, "Yechh!" and the other face on the left, saying "Heh, heh, heh."
.Some little critters, I know not what! Maybe Zoanthids, little critters. That's three.

.Four, the Banded Coral Shrimp. Look like little gorillas. They CAN give a nasty pinch with those little claws, sharp as needles.

.A red encrusting sponge. Five. And whitish algaes beside it, I didn't count them, I didn't count before I did this game.

।Mr. Eel! A Spotted Moray. Sorry about the poor focus.

One lady who was learning to dive, but hadn't been in the sea yet, told me that she was afraid of eels। OK. No problem. On our first open water dive, I found five of these guys. With my careful guidance, she even touched one. The eel's head was on one side of some coral, and his tail was on the other. I touched the tail first, just barely, and then she did.

When we got out of the water, I said, "How about all those eels?"

"What eels?"

I don't think she was afraid of them any more. She'd probably seen some stupid TV show, I didn't ask. Still, unless you know what you're doing, it's best to leave them alone.

।Scuzz and stuff beside the Eel. Seven? There's bound to be microscopic beasties in there. Funny eel, what a face!

Whew, all for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A dive east of Cane Bay

.This is looking west, just before I descended. I'm not really that far from shore, I got in over to the left of this scene. But that's the whole beach at Cane Bay. A bit smaller than the huge continental beaches of the east and west coasts of the USA!

A fishing pack of fish. The Goatfish nuzzle in the sand, looking for whatever is there, crabs and worms and whatnot. The Bar Jack and the larger Yellowtail Snapper tag along to grab what the Goatfish stir up.

Aha, one of the larger Gorgonians. Little ones of different kinds at the bottom. Funny name, hey? Let's get closer...

That stuff doesn't look like leaves, does it? A closer inspection is due here.

Aha, Polyps! They're so cute! And fragile! Little animals waving their tentacles in the water, trying to catch some speck of food floating by. When one does catch something to eat, the food is shared amongst it's neighbors, as they share all 'bodily fluids', being connected together, not separated by birth.

They grow by budding, a new little polyp starts at the base of a mature polyp near the end of the--- limb? I don't know the name for a branch. Maybe branch. A very slow way to grow, compared to Kudzu vine, or some other plant that can go an inch a day, or more.

Here's a teaser for tomorrow's post. Can you count the number of different kinds of animals, and plants, in this photo?
Stay tuned! See ya tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let's look around a little

A coral head, or in Australia, a Bommie.  Twenty four feet depth, 8m..

.A Blackbar Soldierfish.  Red?  Big eyes?  He swims up in the water column at night to eat shrimps and little fish that go up there to eat whatever they eat.  Big restaurant in the 'sky' at night, hey?
I think that's 'Ten Ray Star' coral above the fish, and to the right, that's Great Star coral, Montastraea cavernosa.  The little fish are little fish, ha!
What's that tiny red thing?  Up and right of the Christmas Tree Worm?
Another kind of worm, and with the only visible part the 'radioles', the 'net' used to catch food that floats by.  The green bit is Antler Algae, and most of the other stuff is different kinds of algae, plants.
 Big battle going on here, for pace to grow, between the Mustard Hill coral, and the Symmetrical Brain coral.  The Grooved Brain corals on either side will be joining the fight in a year or so.  Maybe I'll come back on a schedule, every two months? to keep a visual record of who dominates.

The purplish stuff is an algae called Reef Cement.  It is very hard, calcarious, and cements dead corals together.  And it provides a surface for new little coral polyps to settle and begin growing.

.Looking closely at the 'nothing' between corals.  I see a little fish, and another fan worm.  Both on the right.

Good camoflage, hey?  You mostly see things because they move.  This tiny fish wags back and forth, then, seeing a morsel to eat, zips out to grab it, and is back in his hole in about one second.  Incredibly quickly.  Oh, this is a Secretary Blenny.  I don't know how this name happened!

OK, see you later!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Deep scenery

I'm running late for my painting plein air with the Palletteers group, but here are some sceneries from around 80 feet, 27m, deep.
This is how the Drop Off looks from the side, a steep hill.  Here on St Croix, this goes to several thousand feet deep.  Actually, there's a deep sea trench that's nearly three miles deep just northwest of St. Croix.  It's  between here and Vieques, fifty miles to the north west.

.Little fishes, and some Jacks down there.  A reddish Rope Sponge, and some bushy looking Gorgonian soft corals.  And behind that, an old Purple Tube Sponge that has changed little in the twenty years that I've been diving here.
Ak, two fish running away from me.  I sure wish spear fishing wasn't legal here!  Too few fish, and they all run away from me.  That tiny Blue Chromis might be good to eat!  One third of a bite!
Funny Wire corals.  Yes, animals!  And a rope sponge of some kind.
.One Yellowtail Snapper.  Ought to be a school of fifty!  They're quite tasty with garlic butter.  Cardboard would be tasty with enough garlic butter.
This vertical coral formation is the side of the Spur, discussed in the previous post.  Some places, like Grand Turk, and Cayman Islands have true Walls, that are totally verticle.  A lot of people can't handle diving along a wall that's on one side, and the DEEP blue sea on the other.  It is creepy to think the hugest sea monster in the world could swim right up to you and eat you, but that doesn't happen, ever.

An old rope sponge, living in the sand.  There must be a rock just at the surface of the sand.  See how the sponge was growing up, then at some point, maybe a past hurricane, was turned on his side, and he's growing upwards again.  Everything, well, except the sand, in this photo is a sponge.
OK, off to paint land things in quick acrylics.  I usually try to paint the ladies painting, rather than just the scenery.  I'll rearrange my cluttered studio, push this computer to the side, and get started painting again.  I'm very restless and I think it's because I'm not practising my craft.  This computer is in the center of the room, and sure dominates!
OK, all for this morning, see ya later!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tiny blue fish

Here is the side of a formation called 'spur and groove'.  When there is a lot of sand produced in an area, the sand moves deeper by wave action, surge, and gravity, down the slope in the grooves, and the coral heads, bommies, grow in lines perpendicular, or at right angles to the shore.     In Cane Bay, there are a series of these large coral formations, maybe ten of them.  This coral wall? is about twenty feet high, 7m, a two story building.  And the sloping sand here is about seventy feet deep at that anchor laying in the sand.  See the anchor?  lol.  Bottom left.  Sea isn't very clear here.

You can see our tiny fish in the lower right corner, behind that sponge hanging down.
.Ah, they were really swirling around.  There's a tunnel of sorts through the coral to the other side, about thirty feet, 10m, and there has been a school of these tiny blue fish here for years and years.  The perfect environment for them, I guess.  I don't know of another place with a permanent school of these.






.Lovely!  Like a wheat field blowing in a breeze. Or a school of fish swimming together.  Some scientists got some eggs from a schooling type of fish like these, and raised a bunch of fish isolated, each fish in its' own  tank of water.  When the fish were put together so they could follow their natural schooling instincts, they bumped into each other.  So they have to learn how to keep their perfect distances between individuals.
I'm either going to make a little movie, or a slide show.  I love watching these little fishies!
Oh, the fish are Anchovies, or Silversides, or Herrings, I can't seem to find an ID for them, as the book says they're really difficult to tell apart.  OK, LBF, Little Blue Fish.
Now back up to see a bright color, an Elliptical Star Coral, in about fifteen feet, 5m, depth. before, boooo, the end of the dive, and a return to ....  reality?

OK, all for now,  thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Looking around

Just a few scenery images this morning, I need to go get some more pictures. Rediculous! Photography is limitless, or a bottomlless pit, I'm not sure which!




Ah, remember, these are animals! Not bushes and trees. They grow slowly, polyp by polyp. This candelabra thing (I don't have my book handy!) is about a foot tall, 30 cm, and might be twenty years old, or older. I'll have to mark some of these guys and take their portraits every couple of months.
On land, say, when a bit of land is cleared, the weeds grow right up. Not so under the sea. It's taken me years to really put into my mind that these things are not plants.
All for this a.m. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 22, 2009


A Yellowtail Hamlet.  A second late clicking the shutter.  Some people manage to take a photo just before a critter moves.  Not me!
A 'teenage' Beaugregory.  As this fish ages, he will turn more brown until there's only a hint of yellow.  The young juveniles are blue where the brown is on this fish.  Getting old is the pits.
.Holes!  This must be a sponge, an Orange Elephant Ear  Sponge.  They can get quite large.  They grow wide and flat, rather like a pancake gone wrong.  I think  the largest ones I've seen were six feet, 2m, across, and about six inches thick, 15cm., on a steep dropoff.  It did resemble an elephant's ear.

A burrow in the sand.  Who might live here?  I must look ahead more often as I move along.

A Yellowhead Jawfish.  Crummy name for a really beautiful little fish.  They sometimes live in little groups, if the sandy bottom is good for digging their burrows.  They swim vertically up from their hole, and can drop, tail first, right back down to safety amazingly quickly.  They're not just white with the yellow head, they're pearlecent, just like mother of pearl.
All for now, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On using the flash on the camera

I usually don't like to use the flash. It doesn't look right at all! But this little camera that I have now, it's either flash or no, for the whole dive. No long, scenery pictures, only close-ups with shadows and colors that don't look like what you see. Owell, in the future, no more flash! (maybe)

Also, I really dislike blasting everyone's sight. Just not nice.
A little shrimp, a Banded Coral Shrimp. They are cleaners, meaning a fish will swim close, hold still in a pose, and the shrimp will examine the fish for parasites ( fleas and ticks??). The shrimp gets a meal, ugh, and the fish is healthier and happier.
The brown thing is a sponge, see the round hole on the right? A Brown Tube Sponge. There are tiny critters, Zoanthids, living with the sponge in the tiny excurrent holes, you can see their little wine colored tenticles. When I am asked how to tell what is that? I say, "Sponges have holes, corals have patterns". Which is generally true.
Food just floats around in the sea, so many creatures have tenticles, and other 'nets' to catch food, smaller creatures. I wouldn't run to the grocery store if I could just sit and grab a cheeseburger floating by! Maybe that's one thing about the popularity of drive-thru fast food joints. The food just floats into the mouth while one is sitting in the car! hahaha, I just thought of it that way. I generally avoid this sort of non nourishing fare.

A young Pillar Coral. Well, a bit growing into a larger coral from a piece that was knocked off in a hurricane. A really big Pillar Coral can be as big as a car. Looking like Disney castles. The tentacles are the shaggy looking covering. Get close and it looks like wheat waving in the breeze. I can't take good close-ups with this little camera, unless I'm very lucky, one clear image from dozens. I limited myself to only 147 shots this dive. Hours at the computer sorting them!

Ah! A worm! I'm not going to try to name this guy any better than that. There are many types, and each can be many colors. They're all beautiful. The feeding part that we see, anyway. When they sense that you're close, they instantly retract-- their 'feathers'-- into their tubes.

Another feather worm. This one looks like he/she wasn't quick enough to avoid a fish's nip..

Two, living under a crevas in the coral. I was lucky with these three photos, to sort of get these wily little guys in focus. I must have deleted fifty images!
Photographers often go nuts trying to get lenses and camera gear that lets them take pictures of ever smaller beasties. There must be dozens of smaller things of interest in this photo, but enlarging just gets smears.

And I'll close the post with a very happy looking Barrel Sponge! I need to print this out and pin it on the wall, it makes me smile. I kind of doubt sponges have emotions. But this guy is laughing, hey?

OK, Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!