Monday, July 23, 2007

An Amazing Weekend of Diving!!!

Really, just 6 pictures Bev? Bubbles and Greg came along on my Sunday afternoon dive, it was the first outing for Bev's new underwater camera. I kept wondering while we were down there, I'd point things out to her, and she would look at it like, yeah - very cool, but she wouldn't take any pictures. At this point I was wondering if she bought the camera because it matched her swimsuit, or she thought it would look like accessorized jewelry. I'm sure she'll get into the picture taking pretty quick, once she learns what the various settings are for. She claimed she was distracted and that's why she wasn't taking many pictures. It has me wondering what could have possibly been so distracting down there. Seriously, I am looking forward to her getting into underwater photography and then posting her pics, I'm sure she'll find many things that I miss and simply can't see. I think I take 6 pictures as I jump off the rock before I even hit the water though. I've had a few people ask how I get such amazing shots of things. The answer is simple really, I take hundreds of shots, and I'm not exaggerating. Over the weekend I took over 900 pictures. Thank god for the digital age! I figure if you take enough shots, some of them are going to have to turn out. You don't see all the ones that don't turn out, they just get deleted.

Thanks to Bob Abela from Guam, I now know the name of the soft coral in the first picture, it is Minabea aldersladei. He looked it up in "Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific" by Gosliner, Behrens & Williams, he highly recommends the book. If Bob recommends it, it's probably a must have for your marine library. Thanks Bob, always appreciate your help with ID's.

This was the first of these types of clams I can recall seeing around here. It had been eaten, but was laying there intact, and yes, it is still in the same spot. Very interesting looking shell though. It must have been the day for bi-valve shells, because right after I saw that one I saw another one, this one live that I have never seen before. This one was pretty big, about 8" across. I think I've seen pieces of these, but this is definitely the first one I've ever seen live. Sometimes you just have to swim about a foot above the bottom so you can see everything that is tucked away under ledges or in holes. When you're swimming 10-20' above everything, you miss probably 95% of the things there are to see. I noticed that quite a few of these coral heads outside the Grotto are being killed off. Their natural color is the brownish shade under the end pieces. When it turns snow white, it means that it is dead, and we have far too many snow white coral heads these days. I thought this made for a cool shot with the sky and open ocean in the background and that little fish tucked into the coral head. And yes, these guys were out in force for the second day in a row. This is the Halgerda guahan, named for the island of Guam, where it was originally discovered. They seem to be mainly in the Mariana islands chain. After watching them for quite a while, I saw one that sat in the same spot for about 10 minutes, then when it moved, it left behind an egg ribbon. That was very cool to see, as there is just not a whole lot known about this particular species of nudibranch. There are literally thousands of eggs in that ribbon. How often do these nudibranchs mate, and do they all do it at the same time as it appeared over the weekend? It will be interesting to keep an eye on that egg ribbon and see how long it takes before they start hatching, since I know the exact date it was laid. And believe it or not, but there was still more on this dive. I got to watch an octopus jumping from one hole to the next over and over, and got some amazing pictures of him as well. But that's going to have to wait for tomorrows blog.

The Whole Truth & Nothing But the Truth

No these aren't two sea otters surfacing for air in Santa Cruz, it's Greg & Bev in the Grotto. We had just started checking out the frisky nudibranchs at the bottom of #2 hole when Bev started getting a bout of vertigo. If you have never experienced this underwater, you have no idea just how traumatizing and scary it can be. It feels like you're on a carousel at the fair going about 100 mph. Everything spins around and around out of control, and after a little bit of it, you feel like you need to part ways with your lunch. As someone who has to deal with vertigo underwater on a regular basis because of damage I have done to my inner ears, I can totally sympathize and understand. The thing that so impressed me about Bev was that she managed to keep her cool, signal to Greg that she was having a problem and wanted to surface. I was busy being a peeping Harry on the frisky nudibranch. But then I looked back and saw them both heading for the surface, so I followed to find out what was up. Bev let Greg take her slowly and safely to the surface, where we found out what was going on.

Now of course the first thing going through Bev's mind was, oh great, Harry's here and I'm going to have to read all about this in his blog now. Truthfully though, I wouldn't have mentioned it if she hadn't already talked about it in her blog. I have seen many divers get themselves and their dive buddy into trouble because they panic in situations like that. Bev didn't panic, but held it together in spite of the fact that her world was spinning out of control. Even though she was thinking we'd be all freaked out thinking that she was too much drama in the water, I had just the opposite reaction, I was totally impressed with her. To me, her reaction was the mark of a good diver, and the kind of diver I enjoy having along. And I'm not just saying all this because she keeps referring to me as Saipan's sexiest blogger. Frankly, that makes me question whether she needs glasses or a white cane. I really didn't know Bev at all before yesterday, but I can totally see why her nickname is Bubbles, she truly is a riot to be around.

So no worries Bev, I wasn't freaked out, I was impressed. Now as for your photography skills, well that might have to be the fodder for another blog. I did have a couple more awesome dives Sunday, and got some very cool pictures as well. So depending on how my day goes, there may be another entry before the day is over.