December 29, 2002 - December 31, 2002 - January 1, 2003 - January 2, 2003 - January 3, 2003

December 30, 2002: Belize - Nekton Pilot

A D2D New Years 2003: Belize dive
"Cathedral, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef)" - "Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef)"

First full day of diving on the Nekton.
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
  • Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny, like most of the week. Warm in the afternoon.

  • Personal Notes: The crew of the Nekton managed to do two eight hour jobs in about seven, replacing both cables that hold up the dive deck. I put in five dives this day and came to love night diving, even though the blood worms make it a pain in the ass sometimes.


Some of my shots are blurry, more so than other trips. Either I'm using too much zoom in some shots, or I need to play with the autofocus settings on my camera. In this listing there are some really cool night dive photos.
Cathedral, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef)
I have lots of photos of people I don't know ... or can't figure out who they are from the picture.
Dunno what kind of Jelly it was ... probably the non-stinging kind. I know it's blurry, but it's very close to the housing, and it's probably the best jelly still I have.
This lobster was hiding out under a ledge - which is why it's kind of dark. This was also in the morning, probably before 9am.
So I *did* take another picture of the sun. Well, this is probably more of the sillouette of the coral.
Again, a Sun shot, but more because of how the valley forms around it as the sun rises.
A very blurry shot of a Banded Coral Shrimp, but again, not an easy thing to shoot.
Thanks to Laura (I think) for the lighting assist on this Spotted Drum.
I'm guessing this is actual Stag Horn Coral.
The trouble getting these guys on film caused ... I snapped this still and started filming video, and I turned as they passed under me. Right into some Fire Coral, right in the cheek. I got a few more pictures on this dive though ...
It was not uncommon to have at least one Barracuda hanging out under the boat, fairly shallow.
Here's another shot of the 'Cuda.
Best shot, probably without the red filter.
We saw only a few Honeycomb Cowfish.
Hogfish were all over the place though, and pretty big, too.
This little guy is on a wall, and actually, the picture was originally oriented upside down.
Again, an Indigo Hamlet. There were quite a few around Belize; they are apparently very rare elsewhere.
At first all we saw was the body (which was actually more common - it was hard to find the head) of this Spotted Moray Eel. I went to touch him and he backed up and eyed me - so I snapped this photo.
JoeBennie, another D2D diver.
Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef)
Horribly blurry, it's easy to make out the brittle star, but this also happens to be (currently) my only shot of a Golden Coral Shrimp.
Landscapes tend to be easy pictures to take, I think. However, it might just be a "forest for the trees" thing - many people don't notice these stunning scenes because they're looking for fish.
A Crab hiding in the dark.
Not quite sure what this stuff is but it's cool looking.
A couple of Flamingo Tongues. I wish I had gotten a better shot - sometimes things look good on that tiny screen that aren't really that good.
I tried twice to get a good shot ... I probably shouldn't have given up.
It's the little things that I enjoy the most (well, there is something to be said for free-swimming octopi but ya know). This little Blenny (again, I have a hard time identifying which type exactly) was wary, but not too afraid. That yellow and black thing on the left of the frame is my fingertip for a size perspective.
Barracuda under the boat again - he's swimming by one of the sunken pontoons of the Pilot.
Black Durgon do have some interesting patterns on their body, but the most striking feature is that which identifies them best: the blue bars edging the fins.
Black Grouper hiding in some soft coral. He was pretty big - I wanted to get a better shot but then I didn't want to scare him off.
Don, one of the D2D divers.
I'll have to figure out what kind of coral that is.
Jena and her dive buddy.
Here we are on the night dive - this is a Sea Cucumber.
The only way to get a better photo of this Spotted Moray would have been to get closer, and I don't think either one of us really wanted to do that.
A Parrotfish of some sort, apparently asleep!
A well cameoflaged Peacock Flounder.
I believe these are Coral Polyps. You can actually feed these guys; bloodworms are attracted to dive lights, and can get quite annoying. Hold the light over the coral and watch the worms get eaten!
Crabs didn't like the light but then they don't move all that fast ... if you're quick, you can usually get a decent shot of one.

Dive data for dives on this day:

Dive Site Name Max Depth Minutes Water Temp
179 Cathedral, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) 81 feet 38 min. 81 F
180 Cathedral, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) 65 feet 61 min. 81 F
181 Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) 56 feet 59 min. 79 F
182 Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) 74 feet 42 min. 81 F
183 Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) 29 feet 52 min. 81 F
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