Posts Tagged ‘underwater’

Viewing The Ocean From Afar

May 14th, 2010 at 12:06 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

About 10 years ago, working with my college friend Dan Senie, we installed the world’s first permanently mounted WebCam in a reef system. We called it the Bonaire ReefCam, and there was a Bonaire ReefCam of some sort in operation (even two at one point) until the Fall of 2008, when Tropical Storm Omar severely damaged the Bonaire Pier ReefCam.

Over the last decade the various WebCams I have installed on Bonaire have allowed millions of people to experience Bonaire above and below water from afar via the Bonaire WebCams web site. But top-side WebCams apparently only go so far – people have really missed watching marine life under the water’s surface, and have made sure to let me know that fact.

Well, now that I’ve been home for a long enough stint (9 weeks), I have had a chance to install a brand new replacement Bonaire ReefCam. This one too shares the name of its predecessor – the Bonaire Pier ReefCam, since it is located under a pier. I installed it two days ago and it’s been working great ever since. The images you can see on the Bonaire WebCams site update internally every minute, and every 1-4 minutes for viewers (frequency depends on your membership level at the site).

Jake on the Bonaire Pier ReefCam right after it was installed

Jake seen on the Bonaire Pier ReefCam right after it was installed

Because I was installing the camera very close to land and in shallow water (it’s only 2-3 feet under water), I was able to design a very simple underwater camera system, which involved a high quality NTSC bullet camera, a couple of pieces of PVC pipe (one big, one small), clear resin, a UV filter, and about 60 feet of heavy garden hose to run the thin cable through and provide good environmental protection. Once the camera was potted, I attached it to a small two-by-four wood chunk, and then used cable and tie wraps to attach it to one of the pier pilings. I worked very hard to avoid damaging any of the orange cup corals on the piling during my installation efforts, and ran the cable and tie wraps between the small coral heads.

The Bonaire Pier ReefCam with school of silversides

The Bonaire Pier ReefCam with school of silversides

Once I verified the orientation was good, I used underwater epoxy to cement the camera and wood to the piling. This morning I went back for a quick snorkel inspection and I was pleased to find that the epoxy had set very well – I wasn’t sure it would because it was very soupy when I applied it (and the small bit of surge at the time didn’t help) – I ended up wearing a fair bit of the epoxy during the application attempt.

Close-up of the Bonaire Pier ReefCam - not pretty but very functional

Close-up of the Bonaire Pier ReefCam - not pretty at the moment but very functional

The end result is not particularly attractive at the moment, but marine growth should cover up most of the epoxy and wood in the coming months.  As long as the lens is kept clean, it will work just fine.

Below are a few more photos related to the new Bonaire Pier ReefCam, and you can find larger versions of all of the photos in this post on my Flickr pages.

The pier at Eden Beach on which the Bonaire Pier ReefCam is mounted. It is on the second piling from the left, under where these people are sitting. The garden hose protected cable goes under the pier into the gray box on the Eden Beach sign, and from there, the signal goes into a small server room where it is digitized and uploaded every minute.

The pier at Eden Beach on which the Bonaire Pier ReefCam is mounted. It is on the second piling from the left, under where these people are sitting. The garden hose protected cable goes under the pier into the gray box on the Eden Beach sign, and from there, the signal goes into a small server room where it is digitized and uploaded every minute.

Silversides on the Bonaire Pier ReefCam

Silversides on the Bonaire Pier ReefCam

A happy parrotfish poses with the Bonaire Pier ReefCam

A happy parrotfish poses with the Bonaire Pier ReefCam

 

Bas Gets Certified – As a Diver

December 3rd, 2009 at 9:57 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I had a nice father-son afternoon yesterday here on Bonaire. I took Bas for his final certification dive to upgrade his PADI Jr. Scuba Diver certification to a Jr. Open Water Diver certification. The big difference between the two certifications is that as a Jr. Scuba Diver he must dive with a divemaster or instructor (like myself), whereas as a Jr. Open Water Diver, he can dive with any other certified Open Water Diver (like his mom), and he can dive a little deeper (40 ft. vs. 60 ft.). So, congratulations Bas!

We joined our friends Seb and Mary at the Belmar Apartments a mile or from our home here, suited up, and went in for our dive. We swam out on the surface for about 100 yards to an orange buoy and then did our descent without reference, which was one of the exercises Bas still needed to do. He and I then performed the additional exercises he still needed to complete to finalize his certification, and we then enjoyed the underwater scenery, including a myriad of fish, crustaceans, an eel and even a seahorse that Seb and Mary had found on a prior dive.

Some of the photos are below, with the rest on my Flickr page.

Bas entering the water to go diving

Bas entering the water to go diving

School of grunts

School of grunts

Male peacock flounder

Male peacock flounder

Bas explores the underwater world of Bonaire

Bas explores the underwater world of Bonaire

Fish eyes

Fish eyes

A flamingo tongue snail on a soft coral

A flamingo tongue snail on a soft coral

Surreal white seahorse with flamingo tongue in background

Surreal white seahorse with flamingo tongue in background

A sharp tailed eel plays peek-a-boo

A sharp tailed eel plays peek-a-boo