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In mid-August of 2013, I set out for a week long stay in Roatán, Honduras. My bags were stuffed with nearly my own weight in diving and camera gear–thank goodness for wheeled luggage! Upon disembarking from the turboprop puddle-jumper from El Salvador to Roatán, it was off in a creaky mini-bus to Anthony’s Key Resort, which would serve as home base for the next seven days.
I devoted four days to filming, using a GoPro Hero3 Black to obtain nearly a dozen hours of raw underwater footage. This was the first major outing for the GoPro, aside from a few short off-roading videos to test it out back home in the deserts of California. For my underwater GoPro rig, I elected to use a monopod-style approach–using a QuikPod and tripod adapter to extend my reach and obtain interesting angles. I also included a PolarPro red filter. I had initially debated purchasing the more expensive Backscatter Flip filter, but was glad I did not when I observed my dive buddy’s Flip filter break after only a few dives. I found the PolarPro quite durable, however. It was also incredibly easy to remove and apply at depth. Costing only about $30, it was a great inexpensive investment.
Roatán’s diving is characterized by immense reef walls. These walls can reach from the seabed at 120′ to within 10′-20′ of the surface. To float alongside one of these massive reefs, with rich coral on one side and the vast endless blue of open sea on the other is an incomparable experience. Living on these reefs is a wide variety of Caribbean sea life, from graceful sea turtles and grinning barracudas to the colorful nudibranch and reclusive octopus.
In the film, you’ll see several of these creatures. You may even spot a handful of hostile invaders, as well–lionfish. Lionfish, native to the Pacific and Red Sea, are threatening reefs all across the Caribbean and have even been spotted far up the Atlantic coast. They originated in these waters from aquarium fish released or dumped off the coast of Florida. With no natural predators, their population has exploded over the past few years. These fish, while beautiful, are voracious predators and extremely damaging to native fish and invertebrate populations–particularly young fish sheltering among reefs. Roatán has a very successful eradication program, but you still may spot some in deep crevices where spearfishers have been unable to reach them.
The visibility in these waters can vary. At times, it was nearly unlimited with clear water from top to bottom in 100′ or more. When storms or strong currents blew through, the visibility was closer to 60′ or so. And in the warm, murky coral channels that meander through the reef itself, visibility might only be 20′ or so. The temperature, however, was a reliable 78° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit throughout. You may be able to spot the difference in the film, where some segments are vibrantly clear and others show a bit of cloudiness.
With three dives per day, there was plenty of time to both record footage and simply enjoy the scenery. Island life moves at a relaxed pace and after the day’s dives were through, there was ample time for enjoying the warm sea breeze from a hammock over the water. Video editing can wait until back in the States!
Anthony’s Key runs a superb dive operation. They are quite accommodating to photographers and videographers very well, with dedicated camera dunk tanks on every boat and knowledgeable divemasters who will be happy to point out interesting subjects that one might otherwise miss. I’d return in a heartbeat to dive with them again!
Once back Stateside, the task became to pare down a dozen hours of raw footage into a short film to showcase the best of the trip. In the end, it rounded out to about 15 minutes of serene underwater bliss set primarily to some gentle instrumental music. So, imagine warm water and an ocean breeze rustling the palm fronds, then sit back and enjoy the film!