One of the unwritten laws in North Carolina diving is, "when you find a dive that's great, do it again". In other words, leaving a wreck site and chasing after better dive conditions for the second dive after you just had an outstanding dive on the first is not playing it smart. These last three days of diving on board the Midnight Express had dive groups who were following this North Carolina law to the tee.
On Sunday, July 29 we dived the wreck of the USS Schurz and found at least 40 feet of visibility on the bottom with at double that 15 feet off the bottom tot he surface. The hazy layer of water on the bottom was not soupy enough to declare the dive a poor one so we stuck around for a double on this fascinating WWI wreck. In fact, the divers from Scuba Diving Magazines, "Diver to Diver" (D2D), who chartered the 'Midnight' over the weekend, thought the dive was stunning and I had to concur with them after I got back from my photo shoot on the wreck.
The Schurz was completely inundated with bait fish that were seeking shelter from marauding packs of little tunny's and amberjacks. Visibility on the wreck dropped to a mere few feet each time the predators would swoop down to try there luck at the hapless bait swirling around the wreckage. It was quite a sight to see.
Monday brought another double header, but this time on the wreck of the Caribsea with American Diving Supply chartering the Midnight for the entire week; the Caribsea was the scene of a recent mind blowing dive just a few weeks ago where over a hundred sand tiger sharks were found lurking about on the wreck. (If you don't believe me click this link to watch the video from July 17.)
With visibility in the 30 foot range with slightly clearer water higher in the water column, the divers managed to find themselves surrounded by still plenty of sand tiger sharks not to mention a mass of bait fish dodging for survival from more predators circling around the perimeter of the wreck. Every now and again you could watch a ball of bait instantly gather tightly around a cruising sand tiger shark while a jack would pass near bye. Sometimes the mass of bait would be so thick that the shark would disappear within them.
I managed to get in the water for a photo shoot with me new Nikon D800 and try my luck at some shark poses. I have had a concept for a shot where a shark would be emerging from one of these perfectly shaped bait balls and have not had much luck achieving what I wanted; that is until today.
After snapping more than 130 images I managed to nail two shots that I am proud to show you on this blog report. Sometimes that is how photography underwater work; one will spend a lot of time and effort on a dive to return at the end of the day with a single 'keeper' photo and feel like the day was a success.
The Caribsea was not the last double header we had this week so far. Yesterday, the same group from American Diving Supply wanted to check out the wreck of the Papoose some 32 miles from Beaufort Inlet. We experienced heavy rains and threatening storm systems the entire ride out to the wreck site but eventually made it there safe and sound.
After my mate, Mike Philipps tied us off to the wreck he radioed up on the com that the viz was about 60-70 feet or better. "It is about as pretty as it has been all season" he stated through the head set. Once again all on board had a stunning dive with Caribbean blue water with temps in the high 70's nearly to the bottom.
The American Divers all made the jump in partly sunny skies that turned the water in to a deep hue of blue beneath. The warm clear water made it easy to see large segments of this ship that was turned in to a wreck at the hands of a German U-boat in WWII. There were a handful of sharks present as well as a school of beautiful african pompano and the usual multitudes of over sized amberjacks and barracuda.
I jumped in for a dive on the surface interval while all the divers sat atop huddled under the canopy in the pouring rain. Although I had abeautiful dive down there the photo shoot did not pan out so well. I suppose Mercury wasn't aligned just right with Pluto and Saturn thus throwing the universe out of kilter for me. I just couldn't get the shot I wanted. This too is a fact of life with underwater photography; sometimes you come home empty handed.
Three days of double headers came to an end today on Wednesday when a strong weather system offshore has kept us at the dock for the day. We are scheduled to run the rest of the week in to the weekend and when I have some new news I will be back with an updated Dive Blog Report.
from the wreck of the Caribsea July 17, 2012.
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