February 28th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

We went to Fort Louis for a third time with Bridgitte and Alex. In addition to enjoying the updated signage at the fort, we admired the blossoming century plants and captured a tetrio sphinx caterpillar that was trekking up to the fort in search of food.

January 13th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

After diving The Tugboat, we took advantage of calm seas to dive Basse Espagnole. A large reef area that rises to 3.5 meters below the surface, Basse Espagnole is one of the best reefs in the area and features underwater caves, canyons and other interesting topographical features.

Shortly after descending, we found an unattended patch of fish eggs on a rock surface that was being greedily consumed by a variety of fish species. Nearby, a small cave was home to schooling silversides and glassy sweepers. A bit later in the dive, Stuart spotted a nurse shark sleeping under a rock ledge. A variety of other tropical species rounded out a fantastic dive.

December 26th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

There was an intense rain for the morning and early afternoon of Christmas Day. We could barely see the peaks of Goat Mountain, and any further mountains were rendered totally invisible. It seemed they would last forever, but later the skies cleared up considerably. In the evening, the rain over Anguilla was quite striking, with curved plumes descending from the clouds.

December 14th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Today Madam J dove The Gregory and I dove The Porpoise. Both are wrecks on the Dutch side of the island. The Gregory is a natural wreck. It started taking on water and they were in the process of trying to tow it to the shore when it sank. The Porpoise is a large tugboat that was sunk for diving purposes.

On The Porpoise I had the chance to take the type of photos that I think the 35mm macro lens behind a dome does best. For small groups of fish, like the blackbar soldierfish, or slightly larger fish, like the honeycomb cowfish, you can be close but still have a wide enough field of view get them in the frame. To do the same shots with a 60mm macro behind a flat port, I would probably have to be two or three times as far to take the shot, which would put a lot of water between camera and the subject.

The first shot in the gallery below was serendipitous, taken while I was testing my strobes with the autofocus accidentally turned off. The last shot is a bubble ring blown by Sally, who is getting pretty good at it.

November 24th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

We have arrived safely in Saint Martin to begin our year-long expedition!

November 8th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

With only a couple weeks to go before Madam J and I depart for a year long expedition to St. Martin, I thought it would be fitting to post a selection of vacation-style photos from some of our many shorter trips there over the years. So many happy memories! Here we come for more!!!

[tiltviewer=flickr width=”500″ height=”500″ flickrtags=”sxmyears”]

May 19th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

There was no moonlight at Moonlight tonight, as Marc AuMarc and myself experienced our first night dive in the complete dark of the moon. Pete gave the go-ahead, and we descended into thick blackness. The wavering lights of our dive torches illuminated a conch maneuvering its gawky way across the ripples of the sand patch, its eye stalks revolving up to peer at us with anxious shyness. A gorgeous cuttlefish telegraphing patterned messages across the translucence of its mysterious skin hovered above in our crossed beams, transmitting an emotional semaphore forever alien to us before gliding off into the absolute darkness.

As a banded coral shrimp gave a somnolent initial-phase stoplight parrotfish one last cleaning before bed, the familiar daytime scenes in the nooks and crevices of the reef unspooled into an eerily different life. Bloodworms swarmed in desperate whirls around our lights. Basket stars crept in silence over the coral, grasping with their innumerable slender curling arms to coil in morsels of food. Red eyes gleamed from the rocks and ledges before fist-sized red night shrimp suddenly sprang away in startling, galvanic flips, and lobsters walked the floor like ancient monsters.

When we clicked off our lights, first we saw nothing, not even a faint reflective starlit gleam from another diver’s mask or the slight darker outline of the reef against the water. If I hadn’t been holding Marc’s hand, I wouldn’t have been able to tell he was there at all, even though he was right beside me. All I could hear was the slow sound of my inhalations, then the gurgling escape of my bubbles, in a complete surrounding blackness that felt both claustrophobically small – as if I was the only person in the world – and vastly immense. Then, one by one, like the first darting drops of rain, the bioluminescent strings of pearls began to show themselves above the reef, a growing shower of tiny shooting stars, then closer, closer, faster, and more of them, until their streaks and zings and beads of light were raining and dissolving themselves over and between us like a glimmering storm of the softest lightning against the deep dark.

Pete signaled to turn our lights back on, and we did, swimming slowly up for our safety stop, and then to leave that now-invisible night world, and return to ours above the water.

Here are a few photos from the dive:

May 18th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Les Fruits de Mer presented a free showing of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s legendary first feature documentary, “Le Monde du Silence” (The Silent World), this evening as part of our educational outreach initiative. The event was co-hosted by Coconut Tree Divers in the beautiful open-air restaurant above the dive shop, where attendees dined on excellent local cuisine from Chef Vincent and experienced the magic of this award-winning film on a big screen in the tropical night.

From the stunning opening dive descent into the sea with flaming chemical torches, to the epic shark cage scenes, the audience was enthralled by this spectacular piece of cinema. Of particular interest to the divers in the crowd were the early diving equipment and methods employed by Cousteau and his team of menfish in the 1950s, and to see them diving to 200 feet on just compressed air, with no BCDs, no wetsuits, no octopus, their yellow twin tanks strapped to their backs.

The evening was such a success that the team plans to sponsor other film showings in the future. We’ll announce upcoming events on our site!

Thanks Marco, Will, Pete, Matt, Chef Vincent, and everyone else who made this lovely evening possible!

May 18th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Here are a few bonus shots from our dives on the 18th:

And a full selection is available on flickr.

May 18th, 2009 by Marc AuMarc

Rags, Juan and David took us on an excellent morning two-tank. Marc AuMarc tested his underwater housing by bringing it down empty, and I tried out a two-light configuration for the first time, with my Epoch 210 video light and a Sea & See YS27DX flash.

En route to Black Rock, we watched from the boat as flying fish skimmed along just above the sunlit wavetops, like narrow birds. Once underwater, we saw a large green moray coiled up under a ledge, with a juvenile spotted drum dancing around him! We had never observed these two creatures fraternizing before, so it was pretty amazing to see the moray weaving back and forth gently in the current, while the little drum flirted and flaunted about in circles and spirals, with his frilly fins floating behind him. Monsieur AuMarc also witnessed a baby moray snatch and eat a little fish, which he described as a flat round oval, black with a white top.


Rags tells us that the Black Rock site has some extremely shallow areas so incredibly rich with life that she recommends the team investigate. We make plans to carry out an E.S.S. mission there.


At Sea Quest we spotted some brittle stars twined around a sponge, an arrow crab perched on a coral shelf, and a spectacular sponge formation with a banded coral shrimp lurking inside one of the tubes. During the safety stop, a remora cruised under the boat, eyeing each of us appraisingly in turn as it looked for someone big to attach to. On the return to Half Moon Bay, a dolphin playfully leapt up beside the boat and kept speed with us. The boat captain stopped the engines and several excited divers jumped in with snorkel gear, but once there was no wake to surf, the dolphin swam away.



Pete took us on a fabulous afternoon dive to Moonlight, where we swam alongside a hawksbill turtle for a super-long time! He was just gliding along, looking for likely things to munch. An oceanic triggerfish flapped above the reef with its odd, off-kilter rhythm as we descended with the turtle. We also saw two juvenile spotted drums, one very tiny and extremely frisky with extra-long frills.


Back on shore, the team relaxed with some Salva Vidas on the Coconut deck, and handed out official expedition shirts to the Coconut Tree instructors & DMs. Below, Steve, P.J., Rags, Pete and Matt model the limited-edition beauties. They proved so popular we’ll have to bring more next time!