Nekton Belize Trip -- Jan 2003
My dive buddy Bob and his wife Amy joined me on a scuba trip to Belize aboard the Nekton Pilot. The first several days the weather was pretty poor (steady winds of 15-25 kts, cloudy, rainy, and temps in the low 70s. However the weather did not significantly adversely effect the diving (other than reducing the visibility because of the clouds). By Wednesday the wind had calmed down noticeably and the sun began peeking out for a couple hours at a time. Thursday, Friday and Saturday the weather was perfect (blue skies, calm winds, high 70s temperature).
Because of the weather the conditions, on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we dove sites around Half Moon Cay and Long Cay (staying on the leeward side of the islands). On Thursday after the wind had died down, we moved down to Glover's Atoll dive sites.
The water temperature was consistently 80 degrees at the surface and around 78-79 degrees near the bottom. Except for one dive site, visibility was always at least 80 feet, and most of the time it was well over 100 foot visibility. I made a total of 23 scuba dives and 2 snorkel excursions.
The crew was great and kept us quite entertained. The food was wonderful (and there was way too much food!).
This was the first dive trip that I made a serious attempt at underwater photography and my first extended usage of the Light & Motion Tetra housing with Sea&Sea YS-90DX strobe. I found the completely manual strobe control not to be a problem at all (except for one "perfect profile" shot of a Queen Angel at close range that I overexposed because I wasn't paying attention).
I have divided the photos up into general sections (mound coral, plate coral, soft coral, sponges, worms, critters, etc).
I was very happy with the results I got shooting with the L&M macro lens. I was less happy with the pictures I took using the flat port and/or wide angle lens. All of the thumbnails in this section are linked to images that I have reduced/compressed to around 800x600 pixels. I have also included thumbnail links (for my favorite photos) near the bottom of the page which contain images that are much higher resolution (and use less JPG compression) which means you should have a FAST internet connection to view those images.
When I have the time I will fill in the information of the name and dive site location of the photos.
Mound Coral --- Some people may not find these photos very interesting. But I really like the color, composition, and texture of the coral macro photos.
My favorite sponge was the Azure Vase sponge. It took a while to figure out how to take a photo of these sponges that would show the amazing luminous 'glow' of the sponge.
This photo was one of the very few good shots I got of the feather duster worm. Most of them were extremely sensitive to any movement within about 3-4 feet. As a bonus, in this photo there is a Banded Coral Shrimp hiding behind the feather duster.
I practiced my composition and exposure skills on the Christmas Tree worms because they were very cooperative. :)
One dive site had many Moon jellyfish floating around.
I spent a lot of time searching for Pederson cleaner shrimp. I got pretty good at finding them. They seem to congregate in/around crevices that have Corkscrew anemones. I spent alot of time trying to get a Pederson to hop onto my finger, but none would cooperate. I found a Nassau grouper at one cleaning station that had 9 Pederson shrimp (But I had the wide angle lens on at the time so I didn't get any good photos of all those shrimpies in one crevice).
Here is one of my favorite photo subjects. The small moray eel was quite patient.
Here is a Spinyhead Blenny. There were 5-6 of them living on top of one coral head. Wherever I moved the camera, they faced directly at the camera so I couldn't get any profile shots. This Blenny's head was about 1/4" across.
Here's a Purple Crowned Sea Goddess nudibranch that I spotted in a crevice on a coral head. He was about 3/4" long.
These are miscellaneous photos which I like the color/composition.
At several of the dive sites we had schools of large tarpon that could be approached to within about 5-6 feet. During the night dives we could spotlight small baitfish with our dive lights and the Tarpon would gulp 'em down like popcorn.
A couple Gray Angelfish. My strobe was not functioning when I took the second photo (forgot to put batteries in. D'ooooh!).
Garden eels in the sand.
General reef scenes....
The view from the hang bar.
Here are several of my favorite photos in high resolution and low compression (ie, LARGE files!).
A Carnival cruise ship arrived off Belize City as the Nekton Pilot was nearing the port.
Here's a photo of Belize city as we entered the port.
The Nekton Pilot at the dock terminal.
When we got back to Belize City on Saturday morning we took the complementary tour of the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Altun Ha and then it's about a 30 minute drive back to the airport (all transportation is handled by a company contracted by Nekton). It was an enjoyable way to end the trip.