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Biofluorescent video and GC East End trip report

Discussion in 'Cayman Islands' started by Blazinator, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Blazinator

    Blazinator Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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    June 5 - 12th - The four of us got off the plane and immediately did one of my best all time dives at Eden rock - lots of bottom time, schools of jacks circling us, swim throughs, Fairy Basslets all around (love those colors!) etc etc - ALL for price of a tank rental.

    Stayed at The Reef resort and dove with Ocean Frontiers - wayyy professional, wayy courteous, set up and cleaned gear for you, way accomodating to our changing schedule - top notch. The main reason I went with them was that they provided me with AL 100's and nitrox. Red Sail will only give you 72's. If you are big like me, and you spend lots of $ to get underwater for a prescious few hours of the week, why would you dive with an operation that limits you to only 1/2 hour BT? Our second dives were always about an hour. OF even gives you a personal print-out of all your dives, the site name, with your depth and BT at the end of your diving week.

    If the wall dives on SE end are lesser than the North Wall, then I don't think I could have handled the North wall dives - too awesome. Imagine swimming through a cavern with a deep blue opening at the end, then exiting the opening at 100 ft to hover over an abyssal trench only to follow a vertical wall of wonder:



    All the dives were way cool. I think the biggest thing for me was the canyon like structure of Cayman diving. The "big-ness" is what I loved compared to the Keys or Hawaii (although Molokini Crater's back wall was awesome). Almost every site had deep cuts and caverns. The silverside bait balls were so mesmerizing.

    Topside was hot that week, and water temp was 86 - 87 at surface and 84 @ 100+ ft. Seas were pretty good to swelly on the SE side, and flat on the north - reverse of what I expected. I really wanted to shore dive Anchor Point and Babylon, but had no time, although I snorkeled to the wall at Anchor Point to scope it out (five minutes from Reef resort). Idyllic site for its remoteness.

    Night dive at Sunset Reef, in front of Ocean Frontiers - super easy for new divers:



    Night dives are cool, but add a black light filter to your monster HID light, and you get to see a hidden world WITHIN a hidden world.
    There are proteins in the bodies of many species of coral, jellyfish, anemones, certain kinds of fish, and even nudibranchs (that eat anemones to pass their GFP into themselves) that fluoresce under UV light. Most of the time it is Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), but sometimes you see red and orange fluorescence, and if your lucky, you'll see a coral displaying both green and orange (some brain coral and soft corals will do this).

    The fluorescence shows up much brighter in actual viewing than the video can record due to the camera's auto-equalizing of light levels, so the actual scuba diver sees an unreal light show. Some corals fluoresce so bright that it literally looks like neon is inside, as the electrically charged photons of invisible UV light come back to your eye as energized visible light.

    My light is a 24 watt HID that outputs a whopping 1750 lumens which is almost 40 times brighter than a large Mag Light, and some of that light is UV light. It even cures my UV glue in seconds in my shop (I'm a polymer scientist in UV resins). So I bought a dichroic "Wood's Glass" filter from Roscoe (through a theater lighting supplier) and fabricated a snap-fit ring to fit my light, and you see the results above.

    Stingray city was well worth it, the Reef resort is a blast to snorkel under the pier at noon when they feed the fish, accomodations @ the Reef were great for the price ($1100.00 pp including RT airfare through AppleVacations), and the "Over The Edge" restaurant was excellent. We saved lots of $ by bringing spinach and wheat wraps and rice to cook in our room, and all the rest of our groceries were decent priced at the Fosters market. All in all, it was fun, but not for a non-diver unless you stay at 7Mile Beach. I would seriously consider Cobalt Coast next time for my non-divng wife.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  2. OH2OD

    OH2OD Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Tennessee
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    Thanks for posting your trip report.
    We will be on island in a few weeks, and your report makes me wish we were there already.
     
  3. jcroy66

    jcroy66 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cleveland, OH
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    I love seeing the anenome at 5:45 in the night dive video just totally gorge itself on the bloodworms attracted to your dive light. :) Watching my anemone and corals feed is what I miss most about the reef tank we had had for 16 years (we lost everything in an overflow accident while we were on vacation in April :().
     
  4. Deac in the Wake

    Deac in the Wake Divemaster Candidate

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    Awesome video. Thanks for sharing that.
     
  5. Blazinator

    Blazinator Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cleveland, Ohio
    323
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    Sorry, Jcroy, about your tank. Yes the bloodworms had a feast from my light.

    I just found this video - much better than my video, and really gives you a better idea of the lightshow that I saw:

     
  6. Codeman00

    Codeman00 Nassau Grouper

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    Thanks for posting....I'm super excited now. My girlfriend and I have the same trip planned out on July 3rd-10th. We're also staying at the Reef Resort and diving all week with Ocean Frontiers and I was just going to post about snorkeling in front of the reef resort to see if it was worth it or not. It sounds like most certainly is.

    Are there any other tips you can give me...just random things that I might need to know about staying at the Reef Resort and diving with Ocean Frontiers?
     
  7. Blazinator

    Blazinator Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cleveland, Ohio
    323
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    Hi Codeman,

    The snorkeling in front of the RR is relatively ok for the convenience of simply jumping in, right in front of your room. There are ledges near the pier (north of pier) really close to shore (like 20 ft) that house several anemones, juvenile reef fish, and I found a good size puffer. The really exciting fun is under the pier during the day (especially around noon) for the fish feeding, and even wilder yet is under the neighboring Moritt's pier/over-water-bar (immediately south (right) of RR) where there was a fully active bait ball of silversides and you could watch the jacks and grunts shoot in for a bite. When I held my breath and swam down to hold myself under by grabbing a rock ledge, I could watch the jacks begin their darting within a few feet of my face, and you could actually HEAR the fish in their swimming frenzy. Did I mention several dozen three and four foot tarpon also on the fringes of the bait ball with hundreds of snapper as well?

    Don't snorkel near the outer barrier reef especially near the inlet channel by the markers - strong currents, unless you time the slack tides, which are hard to time based on tide charts because it takes a long time for the inner reef water to empty out or reach slack - I never bothered to try to find the slack - I just went out a half hour after slack, and still got caught in a tiring swim to get out of the current, and nothing to see out there anyway.

    If you want to do some more interesting snorkeling but not drive all the way to 7MB, go to Anchor point - a five minute drive north of RR heading toward Rum point. See the directions here: Grand Cayman Islands Scuba Diving, the Cayman Islands offshore scuba diving guide,Shore Diving,Grand Cayman dive site locations. I snorkeled it and it was nice and remote, but the wall seemed pretty far away.

    I've heard of better locations though, at Old Man Bay called Connelly Cove, or you could shore dive at Babylon by renting tanks from Ocean Frontiers - long swim but they say its worth it. We found it was just easier and more fun to boat dive with OF though. The night dives were awesome too on Tuesday and Thursday. We did the OF barbeque night on Wednesday night and the food was EXCELLENT for only 20 bucks pp, while watching dive pics and videos from other divers.

    As far as the RR, its really nice, and the concierge will give you free continental breakfast tickets if you ask. We also sat in on an hour and a half no-pressure timeshare presentation, and even though I was reluctant to do it, the concierge said to do it anyway and say no to any questions, and we got a free trip to stingray city plus $75.00 food voucher to their restaraunt. Fun trip to stingray city - well worth it.

    We bought eggs and cooked them in the microwave in our room for our nice relaxing breakfasts without leaving til we were ready. Make sure you get a 1st floor room - I was very glad that we did, for gear drying issues, and general convenience of not having to take stairs.

    Hope all that helps for now - Have a great trip!
     
  8. Codeman00

    Codeman00 Nassau Grouper

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    That bait ball sounds amazing! I've only seen that once in any of my dives...I hope to see it again! Glad to hear there is something to see in the water off of the beach....I've been curious about that.

    Thanks for the tips...especially the OF BBQ...We definitely won't miss that! And we'll definitely try the tricks to getting free stuff.
     
  9. Testudo

    Testudo Barracuda

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    I have a bunch of snorkeling guides for many of the sites on the East End and North Side you can view and/or download on my blog. Anchor Point has some awesome sulfur spewing vents right off shore, Barefoot Beach (other side of the "point" from Anchor Point) has a nice little beach and great snorkeling inside and outside the reef, Queens Monument ranks with Barefoot Beach as my favorite shallow water snorkel, the Rum Point Coral Gardens are my favorite mid-depth snorkel spot, and the wall from Babylon down to Connoly's Cove/Queen's monument is my favorite deep water snorkel.
     
  10. LarsB

    LarsB Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Brussels/Belgium
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