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March 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Compass Point, Ocean Frontiers, Grand Cayman

plenty of Mustard at the underwater

from the March, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

I began the year 2021 by jumping into the water off Cozumel and destroying my Panasonic LUMIX LX-10 camera because the housing was open. I shed some tears -- I hate that kind of pricey mistake. But perhaps it was time to step up to a mirrorless camera, a Nikon Z6ii, with all the accoutrements. In making the investment, I realized I had hit a wall with my underwater photography. It was time for some expert help.

Compass Point Dive ResortAs COVID kept most divers home, Alex Mustard, who wrote the excellent book Underwater Photography Master Class, started teaching online underwater photography seminars (photographyexperts.com). I joined these excellent classes, and when a January spot opened in one of Alex's personal workshops at Compass Point Dive Resort, I signed up.

On Cayman's East End, Compass Point is a true diver's resort, with its one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments just a few steps from the dive dock. I scored a first-floor room on the sand with beach chairs right off my patio. The room itself was of Hampton Inn quality -- perfectly serviceable and comfortable, quite a bit more sizeable than expected, and included a kitchenette with a full-sized refrigerator, a microwave, and a dishwasher. I left my gear outside my front door, and the staff had it set up on the boat the next morning.

Saturday at 7 p.m., I joined 12 other eager photographers. Most were Alex's repeat customers and had come long way -- the UK, Argentina, and Australia, besides the U.S. -- to study at the fins of the master. Alex, an affable guy, gave us a course overview and plans for the first day. He's the kind of person you want on your dive trips. Friendly, approachable, unflappable, an overall good egg. I already knew it would be a fine week.

The first morning, after Alex and our guide discussed the sites' highlights and photographic opportunities, we dived both Babylon and McCurley's Wall to practice close-focus wide-angle lighting of sponge and reef formations. I knew the Cayman Islands were having trouble with Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), and indeed I saw devastation. I was pleased to see healthy elkhorn corals and several pristine star coral formations. But 80 percent of the reef seemed like rubble. Not all of this is due solely to SCTLD, but there is indeed a lot of dead rock. But there is good news. Guide Samantha Lungari is active in an island-wide program controlling SCTLD by applying an amoxicillin paste to deteriorating coral. She reports there is an excellent success in halting the spread....


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