An adventuresome group of divers headed out to dive the Blue Heron bridge today as part of the Thanksgiving with Pura Vida celebration. It was your typical Florida autumn day — sunny and warm with an inviting ocean breeze. 

Underwater the story was slightly different. The poor visibility that plagued Jupiter yesterday arrived here. Visibility was 3-5ft at best. Not exactly the best of conditions, but a couple of divers persevered through it. Why miss the opportunity to see something spectacular just because conditions aren’t perfect? Plus, the challenges of diving in these conditions will always make you a better diver. It will certainly sharpen those navigational skills!

I kept the shadow of my dive buddy, Quentin, in sight as we hovered near the bottom traveling at a mollusk’s pace. Having to focus on a small area, instead of being distracted by a scenic view, makes it easier to spot the minuscule creatures that hide right in front of our eyes. The only challenging part for me is trying to keep from jumping out of my skin in terror any time something darts into my view out of the gloomy distance. 

As we were investigating the small sunken boat on the eastern side of the dive site, two blennies came charging into view, and, as expected, I screamed in fear. I couldn’t help but laugh afterwards as this was the first time a blenny has ever scared me. Once all my silliness was over I attempted to photograph this little critter.

With these less than ideal conditions, closing the gap between the camera and your subject and properly lighting your subject is very important. It will make the difference between a semi-clear photograph of your subject or a photograph of a bright-white dust cloud. Trying out a new macro shooting technique, I was stuck controlling only the ISO and shutter speed of my camera… No aperture or auto focus on a field of view no larger than an inch. I love a good photographic challenge!

As the dive would have it, we saw plenty of creatures on the dive as we slowly moved around the area. Even some of the regulars like a flying gurnard stopped by to say hello. My curiosity had been piqued by tiny burrows in the sand. I wondered if the elusive squat lobster was home. It is usually under these little sand burrows that I sometimes come across this entertaining little character. A little face slowly appeared out of the shadows after a minute, but it belonged to a blenny. No doubt, one that would have scared me half to death had I not been ready for his appearance. A little stick-like figure appeared in the hazy distance. A pike blenny was busy trying to figure out, like me, what happened to the great visibility we had just a couple of days ago.

As my buddy, Quentin, and I slowly started swimming back to the shore, I thought of how thankful I am for everything I have. I am thankful for my health and the wonderful family, woman and friends in my life. I am thankful for all the encouragement I have had throughout my life to follow my heart. For all the wonderful dive buddies with whom I share my adventures and laughs (even on a poor vis day). I am also thankful to mother nature who has enriched my life in so many ways. My life, in part, has been shaped around her generosity and it is why I feel it is my onus to return that favor by taking care of her every way I know how. We are all very fortunate to live on such an amazing planet.