December 30, 2002 - December 31, 2002 - January 1, 2003 - January 2, 2003 - January 3, 2003
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December 29, 2002: Belize - Nekton Pilot

A D2D New Years 2003: Belize dive
"Long Cay Ridge, Long Cay (Lighthouse)" - "Nurse Shark Reef, Long Cay (Lighthouse)"
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First day of diving - it took us a while to get started, and there was an equipment failure on the boat that resulted in a cancelled night dive.
Diving from the Nekton Pilot:
  • Directions from Tampa: The Nekton Pilot is a liveaboard that spends six months out of the year in the waters off of Belize. Their website is at http://www.nektoncruises.com/.
  • Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny, which is good; it had been a rough night.

  • Personal Notes: Your first day on a Nekton boat is likely to involve a lot of briefings. If you thought that you had gone through it all the night before (which also had it's share of briefings), you haven't. So it took us a while to get in the water.

    Your average Nekton day (for us) started at around 7am with breakfast. At 8am, you'd have your site briefing (which, after the first one, was only about 5 minutes long). After doing a couple of dives, you'd be out of the water by 11:45am for lunch (when they would move the boat to a new site). Do a couple of more dives and then at 5:45pm you'd be out for dinner. A little bit of entertainment and then at around 8pm the deck would open up for night diving (only one briefing before the first night dive). Probably only one dive that night, as they would then move the boat.

    Our first night's night dive was cancelled as one of the cables holding the Nekton's dive deck on broke and was in dire need of replacement. After it was replaced, the condition of the other cable was examined, and it was replaced as well. No biggie though - the crew of the Pilot worked all night and got both replaced well before breakfast.

Videos!

My Codecs Page so you can get what you need to see these.

Near as I can tell, if I took the camera on the third dive, I didn't do much with it.

Pictures!

No stills from the third dive. Beginning to think I didn't take the camera.
Long Cay Ridge, Long Cay (Lighthouse)
A large Queen Angelfish, with the crown clearly visible.
A better shot of that Queen Angelfish, though I cut off her tail.
First time I've seen an Indigo Hamlet that I can remember. Very beautiful fish - these photos don't do them justice, unfortunately.
Same guy, slightly better shot.
Here's a shot of a coral head. Humann has a book out about identifying corals, but I don't have it yet.
A closeup shot of that same coral head. Lots of small fish live among these, including what is probably a Fairy Basslet in this photo.
Dunno who this is, it just made a good shot.
You know me and the "Giver Of Warmth." The surprising thing is that I think this is the only shot I took like this this trip.
Again, I need to get Humann's book - this is a closeup of a soft coral, with more fingers flowing in the background. A little fuzzy, but all things considered, a good digital shot, I'd say.
I knew it was a Snapper but it took a bit of digging through Humann's fish book to find it: Mahogany Snapper (the tail is the giveaway).
Grouper, probably a Black Grouper. He's probably being cleaned, too.
Long-Spined Sea Urchin. Hard to shoot for me - again, this is a depth of field thing with the digital camera (that's supposed to be a video camera, really).
Slightly better shot of a Long-Spined Sea Urchin.
This sure looks like Fire Coral to me. Didn't touch this one to find out for sure (though I did run into some later in the week).
A Yellowhead Jawfish. Yup, they're all over if you know where to look.
Dunno if it was this safety stop or another one but I had one of these guys facinated with me - dunno why. Maybe it's because I kinda look like a really big one under water.
One of the props at the end of the sunken pontoon of the Nekton Pilot.
Nurse Shark Reef, Long Cay (Lighthouse)
Blurry - probably gave the camera some trouble since he's in the dark. Banded Coral Shrimp.
Blurry - but these guys are tiny and hard to get close to to get a better shot. The swim very fast.
A Trumpetfish hiding in some soft coral. Well, his head anyway.
My roomie and usually my dive buddy, Papa (as in Papa Smurf), a fellow videographer.
The spot (or "saddle") on the tail indicates that this is a Nassau Grouper - here he is letting me know I was getting a little too close.
He settled down a bit and let me get a good shot of him.
A Schoolmaster, obvious from it's yellow fins.
I'm guessing that this is some kind of Porgy.
There's some video of this coral formation that's pretty cool, since you can see the surge move the polyps.
One of the D2Der's: Pasquale. He's hanging on to the deco-bar.


Dive data for dives on this day:

Dive Site Name Max Depth Minutes Water Temp
176 Long Cay Ridge, Long Cay (Lighthouse) 64 feet 62 min. 81 F
177 Nurse Shark Reef, Long Cay (Lighthouse) 65 feet 66 min. 79 F
178 Nurse Shark Reef, Long Cay (Lighthouse) 74 feet 42 min. 81 F
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