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March 18, 2000: Weeki Wachee, Florida

"Weeki Wachee"

An attempt to get some diving friends and some non-diving friends together for a day of fun. Failing that, it became a day to spend a lot of time under water, and a day of testing out my new Sea&Sea MX5 underwater camera, taking pictures. I need to do what I can to eliminate the complaints that I receive that state that my scuba pages do not contain enough pictures.
Diving in the land of the Mermaids:
  • Directions from Tampa: Weeki Wachee is just south of the intersection of State Road 19 and State Road 50. Weeki Wachee is technically it's own city, but I've seen it referred to as part of Brooksville, as well as part of Spring Hill.
  • Conditions on the day of my visit: Partly Cloudy, comfortable.

  • Personal Notes: Neptune Divers does accept walk up divers, though it is suggested that you make reservations ahead of time. At the time of this writing, it's roughly $40 - $45 (taxes included) for a day of diving. You also get entry into the park. During the summer Buccaneer Bay is open and that part has a beach and water slides.

    Well, what can I say? A typical, excellent dive in the Weeki Wachee Spring (if a little crowded this time). bream and mullet, of course; a river otter I never saw while under the water, no trainees this time. I didn't have a buddy, but considering that during one of my dives I bumped into two people (who in turn bumped into me), there were enough warm bodies around me all the time. That, and Scott of course kept an eye on me. ;)

    I'm not sure what I've learned about taking pictures really; with a mask on, it's hard to look through the normal camera viewfinder well, so they've put a sight on the top. The thing is, it's easy to screw up a shot from not knowing if you're centered properly or how much of what your pointing at is going to get into the frame. The camera tends to be more susceptible to lighting differences: you may not think it's too bright but the camera will, or you will think it's not too dark and the camera will. All in all, between two rolls of film (one 12 exposure, one 24 exposure), here are the statistics (key: first roll/second roll, underwater-above water):
    • Thought I took 43 pictures (15/28).
    • I got 42 pictures back from the photo shop (14/28)
    • I had 37 shots where I'm pretty sure I can figure out what I was trying to do (9-1/19-8)
    • I had 33 scannable shots (9-1/16-7), not all of which you will find on this on this page since some were tests or for other pages. "Scannable" for me means that, either you will be able to figure it out right away, or with some guidance from me you should be able to figure out what it's supposed to be.
    • I had 23 good shots (6-1/9-7), meaning the photo was well centered, at least enough to get what I was shooting at, and you should be able to tell easily what it was I was shooting at, and it's relatively in focus (the camera doesn't have any kind of focusing feature ... don't make me explain this)
    • I had 5 shots where I couldn't tell what I was shooting at (4/1, all underwater)
    • For the good-to-total ratio, I'm at about 55% (45%-89%), which from what I understand is about average.
    If you ever intend to get a camera, I suggest you seriously consider buying one with a large strobe. I did not, and deeper than, say, 40 feet in regular water (Weeki Wachee being exceptionally clear), most people will tell you that most of your shots will need a flash, and the built- in ones usually don't provide enough flash. With particulate matter floating around, that can play with your flash's effect; however, the strobes, which are usually a little more off-set for most cameras than a built-in flash, may not have that problem so much (aw heck I don't know). The problem being is that the external strobes tend to up the price of the camera.


Well, keep in mind the lesson listed above ... some of the pictures have black ink marks on them. :( These are in no particular order beyond alphabetical from when I originally scanned them in and named them, with the above water pictures at the end (in fact, in the database, they are listed in being under the same dive - with one exception - because I have no clue which picture was taken on which dive of the three I did that day).
Weeki Wachee
A view of the stage and the auditorium at Weeki Wachee. At the bottom of the pic is a partial view of the airbell that the performers use to change costumes, as well as a prop (a magic box for one of the shows).
Another view of some props (magic box and space capsule) and the air bell behind them.
Bill from Neptune Divers inside the auditorium. They often have at least one person watching from a picnic overlook area or inside the auditorium. Can you spot my reflection?
Some bream hanging out looking for food. These fish are hard to miss in the basin; there are many of them, and unless there's something hunting them, they tend to not hide for long. They also feed on the angel-hair algae that lines the basin. It's a toss-up whether or not having it float in the water is a bad thing; it might cut down of visibility, but the bream will come out and feed off of it.
My best shot of the bream. This pic has a very reef-like feel to it, and has a whole lot of bream in it.
The auditorium, a decent shot of bream, and a good reason not to stack pictures right after writing on the back of them.
Did I say there were a lot of them? Well, there are. This is also a good picture to show the scope of the angel-hair algae infestation. The good news is that there are other things bream feed on, and Neptune Divers intends to start dredging the algae out. They will plant sea grass and other aquatic flora when finished.
A blurry picture of some bream feeding on some floating algae. The algae doesn't usually float unless someone's kicked it up. Considering how many divers were in the water this day, it's amazing there isn't more of it floating around.
A better picture of bream feeding, as well as a neat shot of some clouds.
Okay I was being silly and wanted at least one shot of my bubbles. The funny thing is, I think this picture has some very artistic qualities in it. Completely unintended, of course.
The castle. There's an air bell inside. This picture is pretty good. Realize that I'm not looking through the camera's normal viewfinder (it's actually kinda difficult to do that with a mask on). They put a sport target on the top, and I tended to cut things off when I took pictures.
A treasure chest! It's one of the props they use in one of the shows the mermaids do.
A vague attempt to get a shot of the grate that's about 80 feet down. I'm probably at about 30 to 40 feet. The shot is hard to get right for several reasons: stuff floating in the water throwing off the flash; the distance involved, the relative darkness of the crevasse.
Some rocks! Actually this is probably a failed attempt at shooting the grate again (which would unfortunately be off the bottom of the picture).
Not realizing that the mullet didn't like the river otter that was in the area, I had trouble finding them. They were hiding in the algae in the shallows around the basin. This is a decent shot of them, considering they are silvery fish, in shallow water, at a distance of probably 15 to 20 feet away, under a bright sun.
An attempt to get closer and get a good shot of the mullet. Unfortunately, with the bright light and the low contrast between the green of the algae and the silver of the fish, they aren't that easy to spot. :(
Some bream hiding under the old stage. It's hard to spot unless you've been shown it; it's off in a corner, and it's at around 10 feet deep. This shot would have been impossible without a flash ... it would have been "A good shot of some bream hiding in the darkness under the old stage."
Well, that's supposed to be a big peace symbol. However, as I've mentioned, the 'sport finder' isn't all that accurate. However, you can see the magic box, part of the space capsule, and a seahorse that's covered up. Oh yeah, some divers, too.
There's a fish in this picture some place. This is looking out from one of the swim-throughs at about 45 feet. About two feet in front of the camera, the flow of the spring is shooting up; but where I'm at, it's very calm.
"Trading shots." A good shot of some bream feeding, too. That other diver with the camera probably about 5-10 feet down; I'm probably in the range of 30-35 feet down, a good 60-80 feet away.
"A tree in the sun." An attempt to do something vaguely artsy, with an attempt to squeeze in some bream feeding on some floating algae if the artsy thing didn't come off well. I think it works though. 0)
An extremely good shot of a turtle, if I do say so. It took a while for them to come around to where I could risk decent shots of them.
Good shot, if slightly blurry.
Yellow box of course added by me. The first turtle I found was hiding. I rudely scared him out of his hiding place and then chased him around in an attempt to get a good shot of him.
A good shot of the basin and Buccaneer Bay across the way (in spite of what I think is water on the lens).
A shot of the clock in the control booth. From here, the mermaids are guided through the show. This was my second dive of the day, and I probably took this first thing after getting in the water.

Dive data for dives on this day:

Dive Site Name Max Depth Minutes Water Temp
40 Weeki Wachee 52 feet 54 min. 74 F
41 Weeki Wachee 50 feet 34 min. 74 F
42 Weeki Wachee 39 feet 28 min. 74 F
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