Jim Church school of Underwater Photo week with Mike and Mike!
Water temp 81/82F – 28C
Air Temp 82s
This week we had 15 guests, all ready for the Jim Church school of Underwater Photo week with Mike and Mike. After a safety briefing and getting all cameras set up and working we cruised up along Seven mile beach for our first stop the Ex- USS Kittiwake.With a beautiful sunrise and calm seas we were ready to take the plunge and dive this photogenic artificial reef. After an orientation brief, Mike stepped in to give pointers about getting that perfect photo. Visibility today was 150+ as we descended onto the wreck looking at the name on the stern, then swimming along checking out the chambers, galley, chartroom and wheelhouse. So many ways to shoot this wreck, an underwater photographers dream!! After the first dive it was class time. Mike was briefing everyone about the basics of photography, such a wealth of knowledge. On our second dive we were applying that knowledge to our diving, a great way to start our photo week. Next up was the world famous Stingray city. Visibility was perfect, a little current to take away any stirred up sand. The stingrays were hungry!! Over 20 showed up, the males were the most exciting!! Rushing our divers to get that free meal, many divers returned with hickeys!!! All our photographers were happy with their pictures and our Stingray hickey competition winner was Kathy!!! After a cruise along North Side of Grand Cayman we pulled into to Babylon for a late afternoon dive. The main attraction here is the large pinnacle which is alive with black coral, sea whips, fans, tube sponges and gorgonians. As we descended along the reef, the pinnacle looked so impressive, that cover photo was waiting for everyone to take. A couple of laps around the pinnacle, a short swim along the wall and the return trip along the fringe of the wall made for a great dive. Afterwards we packed up and prepared for our journey up to Little Cayman and off we motored in to the sunset…
All the guests woke up this morning and found themselves on Little Cayman where we intend to be for the next four days of diving, the weather forecast is looking good. After breakfast the divers jumped in for the first dive of the day at Randys Gazebo. A couple of turtles were seen but most of the photographers had set up for macro so spent most of the dive right below the boat looking for the small stuff. After another presentation by the Mikes assisted by Kingsleys scones with strawberries and cream it was back in the water for dive number two at Randys. On this dive we saw several Lobsters out in the open just walking around and a couple of turtles heading up for air were seen. Back on board it was time for Mexican Monday lunch (just what you need before a dive!). During lunch we moved the boat down into Jackson Bight and tied up on Meadows. By 2 p.m. most of the divers were in the water and found themselves being followed around on the dive by several friendly Grouper. Seen on this dive was a Spotted Drum, Porcupine Puffer and a turtle who had decided to somehow bury himself in the sand. Between dives there were more talks from the Mikes and of course more food to be eaten. For the next dive I took the divers to a neat swim through which we exit at 100ft. From there we cruised along the wall, once again in the company of the friendly Grouper.
Soon we were joined by a couple of our resident Sharks, who made for good photography material and a talking subject once back on the boat. Up next was another culinary feast prepared by chef Kingsley then it wasnt long before six keen souls were getting ready for the first night dive of the week. Seems like they all enjoyed it and the main conversation was about the Octopus that was found. All in all a good days diving, everybody seemed very happy.
We woke up to a perfect sunrise, crystal clear waters and calm seas!! We knew it was going to be a great day. We cruised down to Lea Leas Lookout for a couple of morning dives. A green Moray, Scorpion Fish and the usual friendly groupers all greeted us. We descended down the Great Room and out onto the wall. A gentle current pushed us along while some divers stopped for a photo opportunity on the wall. There is so much life on this wall, so many perfect photos to get. As we turned in along the crevice many photographers stopped to capture the light that was piercing down the cut. On top of the reef the marine life was impressive, Wrasse, School masters and snappers all danced on the reef. Next up was 3 Fathom wall, the dive site that divides Bloody Bay and Jackson Wall. After a brief we all descended on top of the reef and down the wall, the growth on the wall is spectacular, as we turned and ascended along the swim through we were greeted by a nurse shark!!! Up in the mixing bowl some divers searched for that elusive Jaw Fish with eggs. After a while searching, our onboard Jaw Fish expert Spotter, Mike H, found one, a great subject for all to enjoy. Along the mini wall we found our resident Green Moray hiding in the reef. After a sunset cruise we arrived at Cayman Brac, for a night dive on the Russian Destroyer. The seas were calm and wreck was looking nice as we lighted up the stern gun. Along we went searching for any movement and alas by the mid ship we found our prize; a beautiful octopus, feeding on the wreck. Dancing and moving so gracefully. A perfect ending to a perfect day!!!We woke up to a beautiful sunrise over Cayman Brac, ready for a dive on the Russian Destroyer. After a history briefing we descended on to the bow section to check out some great photo opportunities. After some advice from the Mikes, and seeing the quality of photos that have been here taken before, our photographers tried to get that perfect shot. The best place to get that perfect photo is by the stern gun, shallow water and plenty of light. All our photographers were doing their best to shoot the gun and capture the scene in one single exposure. Departing the Brac we made the hour journey back to Bloody Bay Wall and tied up on Marilyns Cut. The main feature of this dive is a great swim through starting at 30ft and spitting the divers out at 80ft. We cruised along the Wall and saw several lobsters. On the return leg up in the shallows we found a lone Squid who was quite happy to stay around and pose for some pictures. Diving over it was time for lunch and a siesta but most people opted to download the mornings photos onto their laptops and some good photos there were too. We then moved the boat down to our afternoon site, Bus Stop, where we planned on doing three dives.
A dawn dive was the call of the day and a picture perfect sunrise it was again. This week was the week for sunsets and sunrises. We already saw a green flash earlier in the week! Nancys cup of tea as always produced a beautiful morning dive. Circling the tea cup pinnacle, the photographers were able to capture the perfect diver silhouette shots. As we followed the steep sloping wall we were joined by a curious pregnant female reef shark that shadowed us in the deep for most of the dive. Then on our way back into the shallows we watched a hawksbill turtle feeding on the abundant sponge life on the edge of the reef. An Asian fusion feast was served on the top deck and then it was back in the water to explore Joys Joy. Descending through one of the deep cuts in the sheer wall we were lucky enough to have a close encounter with two huge eagle rays! Each measuring around eight feet across, these graceful creatures actually seemed to play with our dive group… They circled us again and again before flying off the wall in tandem.
After our Calm journey back to Grand Cayman we arrived at one of our favorite sites, Big Tunnels! Always a first choice among the local operators. As we descended along the edge of the wall, turning out into the cathedral and out onto the wall, we were amazed by the amount life on the wall. The tunnels here are impressive almost as if they were made for diving!! We gently swam in and around the swim through searching for Tarpon. The highlight of this dive is the pinnacle off the wall loaded with sea fans and wrasse. Up in the shallows we were happy to see two turtles and some squid. In between dives we enjoyed Chef Kingsleys famous double chocolate brownies. Next up was Devils Grotto. A place where diving began. Tarpon have made this area their home, with reports of over 50 Tarpon here!! A shallow spot where the famous Grotto gets a lots exposure on the magazines, with piercing light falling down onto the sand. A must photo opportunity for a lot of our photographers. Congratulations to Kim and Robert for logging 50 dives, Antonia for logging her 100th dive, Deanne for 150!! And a big Thank You to Mike & Mike for their professionalism, they are both a wealth of information and knowledge.
From the Captain and crew here on the Cayman Aggressor IV, we bid you farewell and hope you see you all back here again soon.
Cayman Aggressor IV crew