Leper Island – No Lepers – Never Were

Posted in Under the Sea on February 7th, 2010 by MadDog
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I already went into the whole thing of Leper Island  never having had any lepers on it. If you want to read the quasi-amusing details, you can find them here. On Saturday, we first dived Planet Rock  (more about that tomorrow) and then the southern tip of Leper Island.  I had only about 70 BAR of air left in my tank, but that was enough for forty minutes of bimbling around on top of the reef snapping anything that moves and some that don’t.

For instance, here’s the familiar (to regular readers) female Latticed Sandperch (Parapercis clathrata):

The female looks just like the male, minus the big black bulls-eye behind the eyes.

I’m just nusto about spirals. They are everywhere in nature. This coral (Acropora clathrata)  often makes pretty spiral shaped shelves with frilly coloured edges:I’d like to have a coffee table with one of these cast in acrylic plastic. No, cancel that. I’d have to kill about a million coral polyps.

There were some beautiful sand waves on top of the reef. The water above was quite bumpy. There was a lot of chop and some slow rollers coming over the top. This makes the sand pile up in lovely symmetrical waves. It also makes photography difficult, as sand is flying everywhere and you are being dragged around like a two year old child kicking and screaming through the supermarket because mom won’t let you have that 90% sugar breakfast cereal that makes you think that you’re Superman:Never mind. If you eat enough of that stuff you’ll soon be on crack cocaine.

Despite the thorough trashing, I was able to get a couple of nice three frame reef panoramas. The Canon G11 makes this a snap. There is even a stitching feature in the software that comes with the camera so that you can do the job without Photoshop:Much as I hate to brag, I have to mention that one of my previous reef panoramas will soon be on display at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium as a 7 by 2 metre background for one of their displays.

I didn’t think that it was that good. However, after I spent a few hours working on it, making it about 24,000 pixels wide and working the colours over until it made me go mmmmm, I sent it off to them and they liked it. Here’s another one:Now, if I could just get someone to actually pay me  to do this stuff . . .

These last two shots make me feel like the King of the Sea. This is a rarely seen juvenile Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus orientalis):During over 2,000 dives, I’ve only seen one maybe three or four times. They are very cautious. Being only about as long as your pinkie and as conspicuous as a fire engine red 1959 Cadillac, they are understandably secretive.

They usually try to hide under ledges. They never stay still. They swim ceaselessly in a tarty, twirly, Chubby Checkers kind of “Come on Baby, Let’s Do the Twist” dance which doesn’t at all help them to avoid predators. I don’t see where they get the energy, let alone how they  stay alive:I have to mention that I would never have gotten these shots to look as good if they had come from the Canon G10 instead of my new G11. The increase in the dynamic range allowed be to capture both the deep, deep brown and the dazzling whites without losing all detail.

I’m the proverbial happy camper. Except my camp is underwater.

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