Key Largo Diving 2015

The scuba diving in Key Largo was particularly good this year in Key Largo we’re happy to announce!  There are several reasons for that, and we thought diving the clear waters of Key Largo!we’d go over some of the things that have impacted the diving world this year, at least from the perspective of Key Largo and the Florida Keys.  It’s not all good news, as some of the things that have caused the excellent conditions for diving has also caused a bad thing to return for the first time in many years; coral bleaching.

“The scuba diving is great!”

Key Largo diving on the reef2015 brought calm, warm, clear water scuba diving…and a lot of it!  I can’t remember this many good days of diving quite frankly, and there were only a handful of days with bad diving conditions. El Nino is partly responsible for these conditions, as this Pacific Ocean phenomenon generally causes hotter than normal waters in the Atlantic, and generally less wind.  We certainly saw that this year!  But, it’s a good news-bad news thing…as unfortunately, the warmer than normal water temps brought some bleaching, which we haven’t seen to any great extent in many years.  It appears that the Keys were affected less than other areas, like Hawaii for example, but any bleaching is significant.  Not all the news is bad on this front, as the Coral Restoration Foundation arCRF helping our reefs for scuba diving!e making huge strides in “actively restoring our reefs” by harvesting, growing and transplanting corals. Now they are even using data they’ve obtained through operations to harvest and transplant more bleach-resistant strains of corals!  Amazing stuff, and hope for the future!  (The CRF operates on donations, so for scuba divers who want to help preserve our reefs this is the place to start.)

“The marine life in Key Largo is world class”Schooling Spadefish off key Largo

As many divers already know, Key Largo diving always means marine life. But quite possibly the best in the Caribbean! As many islands throughout the Caribbean struggle with marine life conservation, the Florida Keys has some of the strongest conservation enforcement capabilities in the world.  The implementation of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has been a windfall for marine conservation here.  So all the “no-take” zones, additional rules and enforcement resources have had an effect, as can be seen in the abundance and diversity of the marine life on our reefs and wrecks.  Scuba Divers are seeing things that had become almost non-existant…like Goliath Groupers, Spadefish, and Reef Sharks.  A very good sign for the reef system here, and of course the strong marine life continues to make Key Largo a world-class dive destination!

 

 

Your staff here at Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo wants to thank everyone for a great 2015, a special year of scuba diving! We appreciate your patronage, and hope to see you diving with us again soon!

 

 

 

Divemaster Jacob in Key Largo

Every summer, Sea Dwellers Dive Center hosts a couple Divemaster Interns. During this time, usually around 3 months or so, these interns earn their certifications whilejacob1 working with us… a type of “symbiotic relationship” if you will.  It usually works out well, we get extra help during our busy time, and the Interns scuba dive a lot, earn their certs, and have a pretty good time hanging in Key Largo. This year, we’ve been lucky to work with Jacob in this capacity. Jacob has been quite the asset for us, he works hard, and is a pleasure to be around. we knew Jacob prior to his internship, like many of the Interns we get, so it was not a surprise that he was going to be one of the great ones!

Jacob’s Project

image1Jacob has had an interesting relationship scuba diving the Florida Keys over the last 8-9 years. And he was involved with a pretty amazing High School Project on reef coral ecology which involved many visits to the Keys, and much Key Largo scuba diving!  I’ll let him tell the story, one I think those who love scuba diving Key Largo will appreciate!

Jacob’s Own Words

“In eighth grade I wrote an essay for the chance to win an opportunity to come down to south Florida on a school-run marine biology trip to scuba dive and study the unique subtropical ecosystem here in the Florida Keys. For someone born and raised in Westchester County, New York, it was an incredible experience to explore this unfamiliar environment. Additionally, I became more aware of the environmental issues and concerns in this region. Where I grew up, we did not have daily reminders of environmental damage and its ripple effects, so I wasn’t truly aware of how serious it can be.

After that first trip in 8th grade, I made it into a yearly endeavor that greatly expanded my knowledge of the local reef environment. In my sophomore year of high school, I chose to take join a 3-year science research course where I had to develop my own science experiment with an original hypothesis. The same year on the marine biology trip to the Keys, we added a day working with the Coral Restoration Foundation to the curriculum. On each of our trips, a group of 10 to 15 of students worked with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) in the water to help prepare, restore, and outplant, or directly place Acropora cervicornis coral fragments onto reefs. I was not only able to dive down and attach coral fragments to restoration structures, I also got the opportunity to scrape algae off the reefs, attach blue play-doh like epoxy, and meticulously put coral fragments into place so they could thrive in the wild. Each experience enhanced my interest in the ocean and our recognition of the seemingly endless list of negative impacts on the reefs: rising ocean temperatures, pollution, disease, and bleaching. The reality is clear. The reefs have become so degraded that they currently cannot recuperate without human intervention.

If I had not visited the Keys and learned about the current environmental crisis here, I would have never thought about how I could help and started the journey that led me here today. Learning about the problem and its possible solutions helped me to choose coral growth and restoration as my research topic in high school. As I presented my project at several symposiums and explained it to various people I was constantly educating people that are not directly affected by these problems about what’s happening to the reefs.

On all of our marine biology trips we always dove with Sea Dwellers Dive Center, where environmental conservation is stressed in every dive briefing. In May of this year I left my hometown of Croton-on-Hudson, New York to spend the summer first as an intern as I worked towards my Divemaster certification and then as an employee working as a Divemaster on the boat. In both of these positions, I am able to constantly educate people about what affects our reef ecosystem and why we need to change our lifestyles to conserve the places we love to dive.”

Jacob was one of the best Divemaster Interns we’ve had in the almost 22 years at Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo.  We had a great summer, one of the busiest we’ve had in years. We all worked extra hard, engaged in much Key Largo diving, and got to know our new Divemaster and friend, Jacob.   Thanks for everything Jacob!

Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo

 

 

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Christ Statue of Key Largo!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of Key Largo’s most iconic scuba diving sites. Popular with both Scuba divers and snorkelers it has been attracting visitors to Key Largo since it was sunk on Aug 25th 1965. The Statue of Christ of the Deep, or more accurately, “Christ of the Abyss”, sits in fairly shallow water in what is now the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The Christ Statue – A Brief History for Scuba Divers

Christ Statue off Key Largo is for scuba divers!Plans to protect the coral reefs off Key Largo started in the early 1930’s, but opposition from property owners as well as the Monroe County Commissioners stopped the plan. It wasn’t until the editor of the Miami Herald, John Pennekamp, led the fight to protect the reefs for scuba divers and snorkelers that action happened. President Eisenhower proclaimed the reefs as the Key Largo Coral Reef preserve. This name was changed in 1963 to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park. The Statue was sunk in 1965 onto a concrete pad constructed by Park rangers after the Dive the Christ Statue off Key Largo.Underwater Society of America had donated it to the park.

Click here for more info on the Statue

 

Not Just a Statue!

Even though most people visit Key Largo Dry rocks to see the statue, most are amazed at the amount of fish that live in the area. As part of a Special Preservation Area, all of the corals, shells and fish life in the area have been strictly protected for over 50 years!

Dive & Celebrate with us!

The Christ of the Abyss Statue off Key LargoJoin Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo as we celebrate 50 years of diving this world famous dive site. ThroughoutDiving the Christ Statue the month of August, we will be featuring special dive trips to the Christ Statue. More information on diving the Statue will be posted as it becomes available.

Thanks to All!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo 

Key Largo Dive Boat Video – Sea Dweller III

One thing we need to go diving…a dive boat!  We love our Sea Dweller III, and now we’ve upgraded her in many ways.  Check out this great new video of our boat by our great friend “JetBlue Tomek”.  I think you’ll enjoy the day of great scuba diving on Molasses Reef when much of the video was taken…wow…. clear waters anyoone?  Thanks again Tomek!   Happy Key Largo diving to everyone!

 

Taking Great Photographs Underwater

Scuba Diving & Photography…How Do I Get That Good shot?

Given all of the problems we talked about in the last chapter, how can we expect to take pictures that we can be proud of when scuba diving Key Largo? How can we overcome the loss of light and color?

Turtle while diving Key Largo, Florida Keys.

There are two answers to this question. One is to take the best possible picture using the available light, and the other is to use a “flash”. Using a “flash” is generally referred to as using a strobe in underwater photography. This chapter will concentrate on using available light.

 Available Light

The last chapter listed the ways that light gets diffused underwater. So, if we don’t have or can’t use a strobe we need to avoid all of the things that led to the light reduction. In other words, we need to shoot on a bright day, when the seas are calm, around midday. Luckily, if you are engaged in Key largo scuba diving, these conditions occur fairly frequently. This turtle to the left was taken using only natural, or ambient light.

Another time when we can use natural light to our advantage is if we are photographing a very large subject.Whale shot.

A strobe cannot cover enough area to light these three sperm whales, so that a photograph taken with available light looks quite natural.

 

 

 

Wreck photo.Scuba Diving wrecks provide another example of a large subject that looks good when taken in natural light. Sometimes, this natural lighting can be used to produce a black and white image that is quite dramatic, overcoming the lack of color at depth. This picture was taken while scuba diving the wreck of the Duane in the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

Statue in Key Largo.

 

In addition to pictures of big things, silhouettes can make an interesting subject for natural light photographs. This picture of Christ of The Abyss on Key Largo Dry Rocks was taken using only available light.

 

 

The Red Filter – A must for the Photographer While Scuba Diving Hoya Red filter

One thing to bear in mind in all these shots is that they obviously don’t work for vibrantly colored subjects. To take photographs of highly colored subjects, in addition to good light, we must have a shallow depth. There are however one or two tricks we can use to overcome color loss. The first is to use a red filter. This filter reduces that amount of light of all frequencies going into the camera except Red. This means that when the camera allows the correct amount of light in according to the camera settings, there will be more red in the picture than there would have been without the filter. These pictures show the effect of a red filter at about 20ft deep. You can also see how well the coral is growing on Little Molasses Reef. These photos were taken in May this year!

Underwater photography.
without filter
Photographing the reef in Key Largo!
with filter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mysterious White Balance

The final way to improve the color in a photograph taken in natural light is to adjust the white balance. If you have taken the shot in fairly shallow, clear water, although the picture will look too blue, there is some signal left in the red channel. Adjusting the white balance gives you the ability to change the amount of each of the three color channels used to create the image. The best way to make this adjustment is before you take the picture. Using a white board or color slate allows you to calibrate the camera to make these adjustments prior to taking the image.Each model of camera sets the color balance a little differently, so read your camera manual to find out how to do it with your camera. If you have a more high end camera, which allows you to capture “RAW” data, then you can make this adjustment to the image after taking the photo in your post processing using an image editor such as Abobe’s Lightroom product.

These two images below show the difference you can make to an image by correcting the white balance to suit the light conditions.

Hope you enjoyed the Blog!
Instructor David Jefferiss – Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key largo

Marine life in the Florida Keys.
Corrected white balance
Fish and photography.
As shot