Thursday, October 18, 2007

Axe Murderer Tours at Obiyan

I got a call Saturday night from Jeff asking if I would be interested in diving Obiyan with him and a few others Sunday morning. It seems that Jeff hasn't dove Obiyan in years and wanted to go with somebody who knew their way in and out. So even though Obiyan isn't my favorite dive these days, I agreed to go and let them all follow the old Axe Murderer around Obiyan, showing them the garden eels and other unique aspects of this dive. Now before any of the dive weenies start crying or complaining, of course I didn't accept any money for this, and I was just letting them follow me. I wasn't playing dive monster, or master and I certainly wasn't accepting responsibility for anything. Is that enough disclaimers? The group was composed of Jeff Turbitt, Brad Derksen, Rose Collier and Mary McGee. Visibility was great and everybody seemed to have a great time just floating over the coral fingers and looking for critters.
As I was cruising over one of the sand patches, I found this Phyllidiella pustulosa working his way along the sand. He was much bigger and wider than most of the ones I've seen previously, but his coloring and markings look the same. While I was taking my time trying to get the flash to light him up properly and get just the right angle, Jeff came over to see what I was filming and got a little too close. He tried pushing away in the water with his hands, but when you do that over sand, you create a sand storm. The next thing I new the nudibranch was covered in sand and pulled his rhinopores back in, oh well, on to the next subject. No trip to Obiyan is complete without going out and checking on the garden eels. You can't get too close to these skittish little fellas without them retreating and going down below. So you just lay on the bottom, try to make as little movement as possible, and breathe as little as possible too. I think you'd either have to be blind or totally oblivious to not see several of these guys on an Obiyan dive. The scorpionfish and stonefish seem to be all over in the areas where there are lots of rocks just laying on the bottom. You need to be careful if you're taking pictures like I am, and put your hand down on the bottom to steady the camera. I've come close to setting my hand down on one of these guys more times than I care to remember. One of my favorite parts of an Obiyan dive is wiggling into all the little holes and tunnels and looking out the openings. It usually makes for some pretty cool pictures, when you're in a fairly dark tunnel and you see the light flooding into the openings. Mary seems to enjoy the same sort of things I do, going down into little cracks and looking under every ledge. That just seems to be where you find all kinds of cool things, in fact it's where I ran into this guy, literally. I thought he looked cook because he had a silt beard, either that or he was mocking my goatee, I'm not really sure which it was. But it's always a bit disconcerting when you feel yourself bump into something that is wiggly, especially when you shine your light on it to discover it was a moray eel. And this was either Big Brother looking down on us to make sure we didn't get outselves into any trouble, or Jeff just letting us know he was low on air and was about to go in on the rope. All things considered, another good day of diving and another successful outing for an old Axe Murderer and his ficticious tour company.