Saturday, July 7, 2007

Nature's Terminator

Friday night was the night that the coral spawned and released their eggs. There were a lot of divers who were diving just to see that. For me it was just a convenient excuse to go on a night dive. I swam by some coral, didn't see anything so continued my journey to find cool things to take pictures of.

The subject I was most excited about was this Conus Geographus, or Geographic Cone. I have found pieces of them before, or dead shells with big chunks missing, but I have never seen a live one. It's claim to fame is that it's the most deadly seashell on earth. It shoots little poisonous darts out of it's proboscus, the long tube at the end of it, which have neuro toxins in them. They completely paralyze their prey, and then they completely encircle it and digest it. This shell has been known to kill unsuspecting divers or shell collectors who don't realize how dangerous it is. This guy was just cruising over the open reef looking for his next meal, he was quite the hunter. I followed him for quite a while and took about 50 pictures of so of him. I also thought he was interesting because he was in a pretty bad battle previously, but by the looks of it, he won. You can see the chunk missing out of it's shell, where it is growing new shell to replace it. No, he is not part of my collection now, but I do have plenty of pictures to document our little rendevous.

Night diving is really nothing like day dives, it's an entirely different world down there, and you find that the critters also have different personalities and behaviors at night. Dog faced puffers, like the one in this picture, don't really like to let you get too close to them during the day, so it's tough to get those up close macro shots of them during the day. At night though, they will swim right into the camera, they just don't seem to care. I had several of them I kept running into, literally, so I got some very nice shots of them on this dive. This picture is actually worth clicking on and viewing in a bigger size just to see the detail.

It seems almost every hole you look in is a bed & breakfast for some sort of fish. When you see them tucked in their holes, they are actually asleep even though their eyes are open. They don't have eyelids, at least not the type we have, so it appears their eyes are always open and they're always watching you. But you can actually reach out and touch them, they're that out of it. Of course when you wake them up suddenly like that, don't be surprised when you have a terrified fish slamming into your head at full force. Don't ask me how I know that, just trust me.

This next creepy crawly is about 3 feet long and looks like it belongs inside some aliens stomach. It's actually just a type of sea cucumber, but you tend to see a lot more of them on night dives, and for some reason, you can just feel them sneaking up behind you getting ready to suck your brains out. I try to not turn my back to them anymore than I absolutely have to. If you can get all those scarey movies out of your head long enough, it's pretty cool to just sit there and watch them for a while, the way the feed and move. You can learn a lot if you're patient enough to just lay there on the bottom and observe.

This next guy is a huge pufferfish, he was a good 4' long, by far the biggest I've ever seen. I was coming up out of a sand finger when all the sudden my head bumped into something fairly soft, and very big. You can just imagine the shivers running up and down my spine after just watching the brain sucking sea cucumber. I thought it had doubled back and come after me. But when my heart finally slowed down, and I worked up the guts, I shined my light to see this monstrous pufferfish. He wasn't the least bit shy either, and seemed to want to swim into the light and the camera.

And for our final picture from this night dive, it's some sort of iridescent tube worm that comes up out of the sand. I have seen them before and taken their pictures, but never had them react to the light quite like this, glowing green in the middle. When the little tentacles are exposed to too much light, they tend to shrivel up, so you'd better make your first shot a good one. Well, I hope you've enjoyed our little night dive, and I hope the brain sucking sea cucumber didn't get to you. Makes me wonder if a lot of our politicians are night divers. Just a thought.


Bev said...

Nice pics Harry! I went night diving at Lau Lau beach with some friends Friday night to see the coral spawn around 9pm. Was hoping I'd run into you underwater! There was a bit of a surge last night and I got sea sick!

KPG said...

I was with Bev that night and it was fun night snorkeling. Happy, oops, Harry, how do you find all these cool sea creatures?

AVCr8teur said...

Nice photos. I never thought I would say a fish is cute, but the dog faced pufferfish is.