Members Night November 2019

By Alan Throop

The program at the November 14 general meeting was “Member’s night”, which gives members the opportunity to share their photos, videos, and other topics of interest to the dive club a couple of times a year. We had a collection of very good and interesting presentations that the membership enjoyed. A number of the presenters were relatively new members, so it’s great to see that they like to get involved.

First, Hope Kingma spoke about her recent dive tip in Catalina. Catalina is wonderful place to enjoy California diving, particularly in the Fall when the waters are warmer.  Live-aboard dive boats allow you to dive the many dive sites, but another great experience is to spend a day or weekend diving around or out of Avalon, the only real town on Catalina, but a real charming place. It’s a short hop by ferry “26 miles across the sea”. You can take dive boats if you want, but the Avalon Underwater Park is a great place to shore dive all by itself. It’s a two-acre park that is roped off against boat traffic and it is a no-take area. From the patio, steps lead into the water and there’s a great training area in front of the stairs. There is a healthy kelp forest that continues down to a sandy bottom at 65-80’ depth. There are some small wrecks and lots of marine life to see and photograph. Hope said the viz was poor, it was a fun dive.

Rik Cedersrom then showed slides from a recent dive trip in the Fort Lauderdale area. The warm Gulf Stream comes up from the Caribbean along the Florida coast and produces both a Caribbean-like ecosystem, as well as a steady North-to-South current that can make for easy drift dives, but often difficulty in staying on a wreck or one place. Behind the immediate oceanfront is the inter-island waterway, which offers shelter from the ocean and many passages with ocean access – great for diving. He dove on the wreck Sea Emperor, with some large barracuda; the wreck was at 60’. Rik was impressed by the variety of sponges and sizes. The fish populations appeared healthy to him, with lots of schools many species, young and old. Rik is enjoying trying to ID all the species that he saw. He shoots with a Sea Life Micro 2.0 with a single Sea Dragon flood light.

Jay Goble then showed a great video from a trip to Bonaire that he took last July. He dove with WanaDive Bonaire. Bonaire is probably the easiest and best diving in the Caribbean, if not the world. It’s below the hurricane belt, has been a marine preserve since 1972, and has 63 dive sites on the main island and 26 more on Kline Bonaire, a small island just minutes by boat from the main island. The water is warm, clear, not current or swell, and with a sloping reef that is easily navigated.

The sites on the main island can be easily accessed from the shore by well-marked yellow stones. It’s the home of the “24/7-dving” concept, where you can pick up a tank anytime, throw them in a pick-up, and dive any of the 63 sites – day or night, 365, 24/7.  Usually, the resort or room will come with a pick-up for diving or exploring the interesting desert-like national park or other island sites. Jay’s video was a great description of the diving there, at the resort, on the boat, and in the water. There is typically no large animals here, but scenic, macro, and fish shots abound … and Jay did a great job illustrating them all.

Jay shoots with a GoProHero 7 Black, using 2 sidekick lights. He edited and produced this video himself; it looked professionally done.  A reminder that Dennis has a trip to Bonaire planned for June/July, 2021 (see ad in newsletter), so why not join him for this great dive destination.

Dan Schwartz is a relatively new club member, but dived with Barbary Coast Divers for many years and enjoys diving and photographing in our local waters. He presented a wonderful collection of images that blew many of us away, as you can see here.  Dan writes “With the Spanish shawl, sometimes I like to do studies – pick some photographic technique and play with it. I was doing “bokeh”, using a shallower depth of field to make the background blurry and makes the subject to stand out. I lowered the f-stop from the usual macro f-22 to a wide angle f-8” … you can see the soft and textured image that turned out.

One fascinating image was that of a cormorant swimming by at what appears to be the Metridium field off San Carlos; it has the look of a pipefish with its elongated beak and body in the water.

Regarding the interesting image of the brown nudibranch (that I don’t recall ever seeing before), Dan writes the “California Pleurobnachus (Pleurobranchaea californica) I came across first at the Metrids and later, the mating photo, at the Break; July 2013. Behren’s “Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs” book calls them a deep water species and can be found up to 1200 ft. but they can also go shallow. It seems they were there for the summer and I haven’t seen them since.”

Dan has offered to submit some of his images and a write-up of his diving and photography thoughts about them to the Tooter, which we would love to see … and anyone who wants to show their work is always welcome to do so.

Dennis Hocker then took us on a stills & video tour of his recent trip to Fiji. Fiji is of course known for its colorful soft coral and sharks.  There were several interesting segments. One was the divemaster and Dennis petting a moray eel … don’t try this yourself, you will likely lose a finger!! Obviously the eel had been conditioned to accept being held by the divermaster, but it was still unsettling to see how the moray appeared to willingly accept being handled … really unique.

Dennis then showed a shark feeding. A large very pregnant shark joined them, along with a number of uncommon Silver Tip sharks (the tips of all fins are white). Then a very large Tiger Shark joined the group; Dennis guessed perhaps 8-feet long. They are really majestic animals.

Bo Peng took us on a wreck dive at Chuuk Lagoon. While he dove many of them there, one of the most famous is the San Francisco Maru. Chuuk (previously called Truk) Lagoon, was a capital of the Caroline Islands, had been occupied by the Japanese, and was the headquarters of their Combined Fleet.  On Feb 17-18, 1944, the US launched a day-and-night attack on the huge Japenese merchant fleet that was anchored there. The Japanese combat ships had been warned and had left for shelter to Palau. The US destroyed 275 Japanese aircraft and sank over 50 ships – over 200,000 tons worth. Now, the ships appear as artificial reefs with their own ecosystems of bright coral and fish, but with the earie serenity and sacredness of the many lives that were lost here.

The club has dived there many times and the SF Maru is one of best known. It is 385 feet long and lies in about 200’ of water; it’s deck is at 165 feet, with shallower parts at 140’. It contains hundreds of mines, bombs, ammunition, and torpedoes as well as trucks and tanks to defend against the expected US amphibious landings. The club was there this past June/July and again used the Odyssey, the premier liveaboard, as their base.  Bo took us through a nice tour of the major sections of the ship; the video stills here show one of the deck guns and a tank, as well as a part of the deck and hold. Although it’s nice to be certified for technical deep diving, many of the wrecks can be dove within recreational limits. The wrecks are slowly deteriorating, so join the club for an unique world-class dive experience if they travel there again.

Jane Call and her husband Tom are recent club members, long-time UW photographers and member of NCUPS (NorCal Underwater Photographic Society). Jane showed images from the dive off the Beachhopper in the Carmel area early in November  and then at Pt Lobos a week later. She said the viz was not bad off the boat dive – not great, but with particulates – but her macro shots show no evidence of backscatter. The shots here show some of the really nice shots of a ringed-dorid nudibranch; an creative shot of a sea cucumber; a scallop set in beautiful coralline algae; and a colorful hermit crab, living in an interesting large Kellet’s Whelk shell, on a bat star. I’ve included a fun image from Pt Lobos showing LarryD in the water.

Jane uses a Nikon D-800 in a Nauticam housing with YS strobes. They are looking for dive buddies with an interest in marine biology and photography, so give them a call or see them at meetings.

Elaine Berger REALLY likes echinoderms! And she especially likes starfish. She has been wanting to write an Ode to a Starfish for some time, and saw Member’s Night as an opportunity to do that. So she wrote the poem and enlisted Linda Muth to put some images to it … and together they produced a cute little piece.  We don’t have space here but I’ve got the poem in the newsletter PDF along with some of Linda’s photos … so enjoy!

Many thanks to all the presenters for sharing such a great variety of entertaining, beautiful, and fun stories and images with us.

A THOUGHT .. It’s clear that there are a number of new & experienced UW photographers / videographers in the club.

If anyone is interested in starting an underwater photography subgroup (stills or video) in the club, please contact me at,  Perhaps we could meet every couple of months to hear an informal speaker, share some of our work and critique it, plan a dive project, etc. … lots of options. Someone (or two, co-leaders) would also need to step forward to help plan what we might do, so please let me know at the same time if you might have interest in doing that. I’ll collect names and we can go from there. If there is enough interest, I’ll speak to the Board for feedback and approval.