By Jill Smith
For Sealife DC2000 users, there is a new firmware update that offers some improvements on the camera; I think you will be interested!
Why I like it:
NO MORE BUFFERING TIME! Or at least not noticeable.
I want RAW capture capability in my underwater camera, which is why I moved to the Sony A6000 in the first place. When Sealife offered RAW capture in the DC2000, Jody got one for him and the shop to use. We like it very much, EXCEPT for the buffering time after taking a shot; it prevents you from taking another one for 3 or 4 seconds, which can be a very long time if you are face to face with a cool animal underwater!
There are many other improvements made to camera functions as well - click the button below to read about them in detail, and find out how to upgrade your DC2000 camera.
By Jill Smith. (Next AquaCat scuba trip NEW YEAR 2019/2020!)
May 10 1980
Two Cuban fishing vessels were discovered poaching in Bahamian waters.
The Bahama’s HMBS Flamingo attempted to make arrests, but were attacked by the Cubans in retaliation. As a result, 4 Bahamian Defence Force Marines were killed: Austin Smith, Fenrick Sturrup, David Tucker, and Edward Williams.
A 90-foot Coast Guard Cutter was decommissioned, and it was decided that it would be towed to San Salvador to be sunk as an artifical reef and scuba diving site. It never made it, however.
Due to a series of mishaps, the vessel accidentally sunk in the Exuma Cays en-route to its intended destination. The Bahamian government agreed to name this wreck in honour of one of the brave marines that died 15 years prior in the Cuban attack of 1980, and so it became the Austin Smith Wreck, and a popular scuba diving site.
The Austin Smith came to rest in an upright position in approximately 60 feet of water, on top of a coral bed in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas. For 20 years the wreck remained whole and in good condition, until Hurricane Matthew (a category 5 storm) swept through the area between September 28, and October 6, 2016. The power of this storm broke the Austin Smith into 2 pieces, however, the wreck still supports the flourishing local marine life, and remains a favourite dive site for divers. Reef sharks frequent the area and can almost always be seen swimming around the wreck.
Just the Facts
Location: Bahamas (Exuma Cays) - the Caribbean Sea
Visibility: Average-10 m//33 ft Max-30 m/100 ft
Depth: 50-60 feet in area
Weather: Average Water Temp: 83.5F - Average Air Temp: 81F Weather conditions in area: http:weather.com/weather/tenday/l/Nassau+The+Bahamas+BFXX0005
Water temps can be as low as 75F in the winter, and as high as 88F in the summer Exposure suits: Recommended even in summer to prevent injury on wreck due to scrapes, cuts, and stings due to firecoral (or jellyfish if diving at night) Diver skill level: Suitable for beginners, but loved by all skill levels
Current: Very little, but may vary with weather conditions
The little critters found on and around the wreck (reef is right there):
Equipment: Normal Recreational Scuba Gear, safety gear (SMB), knife for possible disentanglement
Optional: Photography gear an asset - this is a beautiful wreck!
Environmental Factors: As always, maintain good buoyancy and don’t touch!
Wildlife: Reef sharks, moray eels, barracuda, parrotfish, angelfish, grouper, and don’t forget the small crabs and shrimps hiding in little places!
Medical and Emergency
The DAN Dive Accident Insurance Plans are recognized worldwide and can be confirmed 24 hours a day through the DAN Emergency Hotline (+1-919-684-9111). The DAN plans provide secondary coverage of up to $500,000 and pay 100% of eligible expenses.
Bahamas Hyperbaric Center Ltd
The Bahamas Hyperbaric chamber facility/clinic is on the grounds of the Lyford Cay Hospital in Nassau. This facility also extends free educational programs to Bahamas Dive Operators, and regularly provide training/coordination of air and sea evacuations and patient transfers from site of injury.
SSS NETWORK / Nassau
Bahamas Hyperbaric Center, Ltd. P.O.Box CB-10981 Nassau, Bahamas
Phone/Fax: Tel: (242) 362 – 5765
Normal Clinic Hours are: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (U.S. Eastern Time, – 5 GMT), 7 Days a Week
Bahamas 24 Hour Emergency Lines: (242) 362 5765
Bahamas 24 Hour Emergency Mobile: (242) 422 2434
Lyford Cay Hospital:
Lyford Cay Hospital Emergency: (242) 362 40251
By Jill Smith
First of all, thank-you to the wonderful crew (Captain Ron, 1st mate Jason, Adam, Jill, Charlie, Tohru, Scott, Yari, Jesse, and Tom), who made our week extra special; it was one that we will never forget thanks to you!
For some divers who have been on the Aquacat before, you will remember Jill and Adam, and we were so happy to see them again! What a happy surprise to find out that they are a couple now (super adorable), and have some big plans for their future! Jill and Adam are investing in gear and equipment to launch their business and travel adventures! They will be travelling and taking beautiful macro, artistic, abstract underwater photography quite unlike anything else. They are also looking forward to creating some very unique travel vlogs, blogs, and books for the discerning traveller who appreciates some creativity and humour with their research efforts. They are still in the preliminary phases of this endeavour, but I will share their website and Facebook page when they get it going – Peru will be first on their travel list this winter, so I look forward to experiencing Peru through their eyes. Good luck Jill and Adam!
Favourite Dive Site – Austin Smith wreck
The first time we visited the Austin Smith in 2014, it was still intact, but on October 6th of 2015, Hurricane Matthew blasted the Bahamas, causing extensive damage to the area, and breaking the Austin Smith wreck in two. It still remains a beautiful site to dive, with sharks frequenting the area, and a lot of life thriving both on the wreck and the nearby reef.
I had the happy privilege of diving this site with my son Sam; so we entered the water and made our way to the mooring - I am doing my mapping project on the Austin Smith wreck for my divemaster program, and our plan was to start at the mooring pin so that I could count fin kicks to the stern of the wreck to estimate distance, followed by a slow and brief ascent to 25 feet over the wreck so I could get a birds-eye view photo, followed by more wreck measurements - however, we were distracted by a very friendly grouper who approached us directly, and I lifted my camera to take a portrait, but he got between my camera and my face, looking into each of my mask windows in turn - he was too close to photograph! He swam around our heads, and when Sam offered a hand, he went straight to it, and only sat still to be petted. What a fish! He clearly wanted to be stroked, and harassed divers until he got a pet! I tried to continue counting my fin kicks, but then felt strong yanking on my bikini strings at my neck – the little stinker untied the bow of my strings (when we surfaced Sam reminded me to do it back up as he did not wish to be scarred when I removed my wetsuit)! We definitely had to take some time out of our plan to interact with Fred (the friendly grouper), and he was the delightful highlight of the dive hands/fins down!
A Whale (shark) of a Surprise
At Crab Mountain dive site, about half of the divers had the great pleasure of a whale shark encounter! What a very rare and special treat! The other half of the divers were either in the swim through, or (ahem), looking too closely in the little cracks of coral for shrimps and crabs. James was the first diver to come up and tell Adam that he saw a whale shark as Adam hosed him down, and Adam called him a liar! When diver after diver came up extolling the virtues of their wonderful whale shark experience, he began to think maybe there had been a whale shark after all! Our divemaster and guide, Jill (a different and wonderful Jill), was in the swim through, and had a spectacular temper tantrum at the surface when she discovered what she missed!!! Good times. David White captured the photo featured at top for our viewing pleasure.
Full Moon, Ostracods, and Sparkling Universe
We did have a full moon on this trip, and after the night dive was over and the boat was quiet, I spent a little time at the boat railing enjoying the breeze and the view. I was admiring the very slight glow of the reef areas; the coral heads were glowing ever so slightly. As I lingered and my eyes adjusted further, I began to see blinking lights in the water – it looked like a starry night sky with the stars blinking on and off – ostracods!
Ostracods are very small crustaceans that will rise close to the surface during a full moon (and for a few days after) in the Caribbean to find mates with their bioluminescent vomit. Yes, that is correct – blobs of bioluminescent vomit emitted by the males to impress the females. Sometimes I'm glad to be human. Regardless of that little detail, it was beautiful, and I went to fetch Jody and tell the others.
What a romantic moment – instead of watching the starry sky, we watched the light show in the water, and it was perfectly appropriate for all of us who are drawn to the ocean. It’s moments like those that make me feel very small in this miraculous universe, and very fortunate to be able to witness some of its wonders.
I hope everyone has enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with loved ones, and that the new year brings you happiness, joy, and some new and wondrous surprises.
A few photo highlights of the week. Photo Credit: Jill Blanchette
By Jill Smith for Jody Smith - Merry Christmas!
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the store,
Jody sold whistles on sausages, and dive lights and more .
When it was finally closing and he turned off the light,
He heard a strange noise and it gave him a fright.
Under the work-bench an elf did appear,
He was tangled and caught up in all of the gear.
He was an odd little fellow, dressed in trunks and a lei,
and Jody knew in a moment, he should just run away.
For the night was not going to be simple, he thought,
He knew it would bring headaches, more likely than not.
The elf scrambled out with alacrity and grace,
And was hopping and chattering all over the place.
“My name is Stinky, I’m a good little elf,
I love water, and diving, and gassing myself!”
“Stop!” Jody shouted, his good mood eroding,
Each minute accruing a sense of foreboding.
Stinky was jumping and farting, making far too much noise,
“Make me a Divemaster, I’m done making toys!”
“I told Santa to stuff it, I won’t work anymore,
I hate building and singing and sweeping the floor.
I wish to see dolphins, and turtles and pretty little fishes,
And I’m here to demand that you grant all my wishes.
“Good grief” Jody said for it was worse than he thought,
“I cannot just do that, there’s too much to be taught,”
“Becoming a Divemaster is a great deal of work,
Now be a good little elf and stop being a jerk.”
“You don’t understand,” said the elf as he tooted,
This dream’s always plagued me, it’s indelibly rooted.”
“Fine!” Jody yelled as he picked out some books,
“But I’m telling you elf, it’s harder than it looks.
The manuals must be studied for each specialty you choose,
I’m warning you now - DO the knowledge reviews!"
“Hooray!” shouted Stinky, passing gas in the store,
“I get to go diving, and swimming, and more!”
“I’ll be free as a fish, and as happy as a lark,
And nobody can tell me I can’t dive in the dark!”
“For I can do anything I decide I can do,
And nothing can stop me, neither Santa nor you!”
While Stinky sat reading and studying the text,
Jody had an idea about what to do next.
He made a quick call to the distant North Pole,
and begged Santa to come help him fulfill his new goal.
Ridding himself of Stinky, he could close for the night;
Santa agreed right away, and rerouted his flight.
Once Santa arrived, they met to confer,
devising a plan that they all might prefer.
Stinky was angry and nearly stormed out,
but stayed as he was feeling a little self-doubt.
Although he was vexed, and feeling grossly misled,
he sat in the corner flatulating loudly instead.
Jody and Santa sighed to see where he sat resolute,
then declared he was promoted with benefits to boot!
Stinky lit up with delight, and was jumping for joy!
He was ready to be boss-elf and rejoin Santa’s employ.
In addition to that, Jody and Santa agreed,
Santa could do more to fill each little need.
Discover Scuba Courses were purchased for every single elf,
And then Santa added some dive gear just for himself!
Jody was happy as he opened the door,
and he wished his friends well as he locked up the store.
But Stinky could be heard as they flew out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and dive safely tonight!”