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|Christmas Tree Worms on Brain Coral|
|Diving a wall|
|Green Moray with Neon Goby cleaner fish|
|Bermuda Chubs and brother Jay|
Naturally, I spent a bit more than I wanted, but got a nice camera (Canon G12), a waterproof housing, and pair of strobes (Ikelite AF35) that all fit in a pretty compact travel-friendly bundle. My trial runs were scant and not very successful (in our icy cold sink hole), but at least I learned how to run the camera from the buttons on the housing and how to fire the strobes.
|Tube Sponges and Soft Corals|
|Striped Grunt on Brain Coral|
|Photo by Keith Kaplan|
The diversity of reef fish is mind-boggling. So many shapes, colors, and behaviors. Like that scorpionfish above - a master of disguise! Here are a few more.
|Pair of Gray Angelfish|
|Royal Grammas (Fairy Basslets) on Star Coral|
|Soft Coral and Tube Sponges|
|Tube Sponges and Brain Coral|
Jay was easygoing and patient... and had a small camera of his own. We usually followed the divemaster for awhile until we got distracted or fell behind. We only got sort-of-lost once or twice.
|Tube Sponges and Coral Reef|
The night dives were especially challenging - being at the end of a long day, having a mediocre divelight, being a little creeped out, and finding my camera and strobes required very different settings. Still, we managed to see some of the strange night critters, like octopi, squid, crabs, coral polyps in "full bloom", sea snails, and basket starfish.
|Octopus peeking out|
|Squid. Photo by Keith Kaplan|
Getting in close for macro shots was great fun. As long as I didn't blowout the image with too much light, the color in macros was especially vivid because there was less "blue filter" (water). I found it tough to hold still enough to compose and focus on detail since I was free-floating!
|Giant Hermit Crab|
|Macro at night. Coral Polyps and Tube Sponge|
|Loggerhead Sponge close up|
|Christmas Tree Worms on Finger Coral|
|Yours Truly. Photo by Keith Kaplan|
|Loggerhead Turtle and Simon. Photo by Deanna Lorinser|
|Lionfish, pointing dorsal spines toward me|
After 5 days and many dives, camera memory cards bulging full, skin wrinkled, ears water-logged, heart sated by coral reef beauty, I was ready to return to our woodland paradise in Wakulla County, FL. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, one that freshened my awareness of this entire other-worldly realm - a realm that is both vast and fragile, one full of mystery and awe, and one that we must respect and take care not to destroy.
|Ruby Lips. Strawberry Grouper in silted water.|