A few weeks back I ordered a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, a tiny video camera that is especially popular amongst those that jump of cliffs etc. It comes with a housing that is waterproof up to 40 meters and has excellent video quality. The still images are not so great, you cannot focus or zoom and there is not even a display, although there is an app to control the GoPro using a phone which is very user friendly (the wi-fi connection however is lost as soon as you submerge the camera so you cannot use the phone display to set up underwater shots unfortunately). Of course I will try out the GoPro for diving, but I do not have very high hopes, as there probably will be loads of shaky footage under bad light conditions. Instead, I thought it would be cool to use the time-lapse function in rock pools. I was inspired by the following video:

(For two cool starfish time-lapse films here and here; the BBC ‘Life’ documentary of course is the cream of the crop.) I clipped the GoPro to the plastic baseplate it comes attached to in the packaging and strung that to a lead diving weight using a tie-wrap. The first time-lapse movies turned out OK-ish, the actual video is more impressive quality-wise. It is fun to see all the little gobies but it is obvious that they are not in focus when up close (and too small further away), so probably it is a good idea to bring some frozen artemia to lure them to the best spot. It is obvious that time-lapse works best for slow moving animals such as starfish; fish just flash by, although the nice thing is that you discover that there are many more fish around than you would think from just glancing over rock pools. Actually, it might be nice to try some slow-motion movies of fish using very high frame rates. IMG_3937The short clips I made are not good enough yet too post; the water was full of bits of seaweed, it was quite cloudy and the rock pools in general do not look as nice as they do in spring (lame excuses I know but see the picture below taken at Falmouth a couple of weeks back: it definitely does not look like this at the moment!). I also need to think about different subjects, as macrophotography is not really an option (although this lens might go some way).IMG_3225As a small consolation, I have added two videos from when I was rock pooling in Cameroon a couple of years back (this is a bit of an unusual holiday destination but highly recommended!). I made them using my now defunct Panasonic Lumix (DMC-F10) in very shallow water (<10 cm). Unfortunately I do not know what species of fish these are but they look like awesome aquarium fish (not too many people with a West-African marine biotope aquarium I reckon). The Lumix is not known for great macro but these vids are not bad (I fear this type of movie will not be an option for the GoPro…). I hope to make some cool GoPro videos soon and post them here!

More Jellies

A second, long snorkel session at Gylly Beach yesterday. Loads of Sand eels, no cuttlefish but there were a couple of beautiful Compass jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella around, with tentacles up to a meter long (first pic). Smaller and less visible was Aequorea forskalea or A. vitrina (second pic)*. A close relative of this species gave molecular biology ‘green fluorescent protein‘ (gfp). P1040132

P1040123This time we swam out a bit further, over the sandy bottom which seems quite lifeless compared to the rocky kelp forest. However, the fauna is very different here so it was definitely worth it. I found my first Sea potato Echinocardium cordatum (about to be eaten by a Spider crab). Near the buoys, at around nine meters depth or so there was (sparse) seagrass. Back on the beach I noticed that my lumix camera was flooded. I was somehow convinced that it could go up to ten meters deep but actually the sticker on it quite clearly stated that it was waterproof only up until three meters….Ah well, I will have to switch back to my Canon Powershot with waterproof case then.P1040136*= From the facebook group NE Atlantic Cnidaria: A. forskalea : up to ca 120 marginal tentacles, usually fewer than the radial canals but ranging from half to twice as many; radial canals 60-80; max diameter ca 175mm” and for A. vitrina: “60-100 marginal tentacles, three or more times the number of radial canals; radial canals 60-100; max diameter ca 100-170mm”.

two great encounters

Another snorkeling post. Last weekend off Gylly Beach and without a wet suit (sea water temperature close to 20C now!). Plenty of fish about, with my first snorkel sightings of Sea bass Dicentrachus labrax and small groups of Red mullet Mullus surmeletus. Much to my surpise I also spotted a Cuttlefish Sepia officinalis half hiding between dead seaweed drifting in the shallows. It was not particularly scared and stayed put while I swam around it but after a while it let out a squirt of ink and moved on. Of course this was just when I did not bring my lumix camera, so the next day I went back and luckily it was in exactly the same spot:P1040092It did not end there. I next spotted a beautiful Blue jellyfish Cyanea lamarckii gently pulsating through the water column. Inbetween the tentacles three tiny fish were hiding, most probably juvenile Horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus:P1040095

Snorkelling at Silver Steps Part I

High time for a snorkel, and few better places in the area than ‘Silver Steps’, between Castle Beach and Pendennis Point in Falmouth. I took my little Lumix camera (goes up to 10 meters deep, no optical zoom) with me to take some sub-standard pics (all other photos on the blog are taken with my iPhone). This site is a mix of rocks covered in kelp and gravel and even the remains of two U-Boats (they are no longer recognisable as such though, see here for more specifics on these and other wrecks off Falmouth). There is always something to see: schools of Smelt chased by Sand eels, hovering Two-spotted gobies, Corkwing and Ballan wrasse, Spiny starfish and loads of seaweeds. In fact, there was so much to see that I have divided the pictures over two posts. First a photo of the site and some of the U-Boat wreckage:P1040041

P1040031We were in for a nice surprise: a good-sized John Dory Zeus faber at around seven meters depth. I have posted a very nice picture from my first and only dive in Cornwall courtesy of Charlotte Sams, but here a short, jittery video as well:

Anyway, a perhaps even nicer find were Leopard-spotted gobies Thorogobius ephippiatus. Some sources make it seem like this is a rare species only ever encountered by divers, but it is actually not uncommon and we saw them at two meters down (the tide was low though). It is a shy species that lives under ledges, burying between the rock and the gravel. The picture is crap but also proof I am not lying. The next picture is of a Tompot blenny Parablennius gattorugine peeking from a crack in the rocks. Large snakelocks anemones are everywhere on the kelp, and although a month ago I saw none, many of them again housed commensal Leach’s spider crabs Inachus phalangium. (These anemones and crabs do well in the aquarium btw, see here.) It would be interesting to know if these crabs arrive from deeper waters or just grow up really fast.