Monday, July 7, 2008

128 Dives For The Year And Counting

I know it may seem like I've been sidetracked lately and haven't been diving, nothing could be further from the truth though. Yes, I have started an Axe Murderer Tours online store, and have made 3 sales so far. Not exactly taking off with a roar, but at least it's out there, so when people want one, they know where to go for it now. The long weekend helped push me closer to my goal of 200 dives for the year, as I managed to get in another 7 dives over the weekend. And yes, even though my eye was acting up on one of the days, I still had people that wanted to go diving, so I grabbed my patch and headed out anyway. Let it not be said that Axe Murderer Tours doesn't go above and beyond when trying to deliver the most amazing dives possible. There were so many cool things from the dives this past weekend, I almost don't know where to start. But I guess we'll start with this dive from Thursday afternoon.Maricar & Barry went along with me to Wing Beach to take advantage of a -0.8 low tide, it makes the walk out to the cut sooooooooooooo much easier. Maricar is feeling pretty confident about not only her diving skills these days, but also her navigation as she has been setting out to explore on her own more and more. The good thing is that she's gotten pretty good at spotting things for me and pointing them out so that I go over and take pictures.This big Titan triggerfish wasn't in any hurry to leave whatever it was he was snacking on, so it gave me a chance to get a pretty good shot of him. I'm always wary of these guys though, you just never know when one of them is going to go nuts and come after you, and if you've ever seen the teeth in their mouth, you realize you don't want to have to fight one off or risk being bitten. They are quite impressive to see when you're out there in the water with them though, as they are very big, and command quite a presence in the water.As I was swimming out toward the crevasse, I spotted this little flatworm just swimming along in front of me. I've seen them swimming a couple times before, but it's pretty unusual to spot them swimming like this, you usually find them crawling along the rocks. Trying to get the camera to lock in and focus on a moving target like this is a real challenge, but I did manage to get a couple shots I was happy with.This little brown spotted grouper was just sitting under some coral watching everything around him. I know just how he feels when he's sitting there pretty much invisible to everything else, just observing and taking everything in around him. I enjoy doing that down there as well, just watching and looking for things that I might have overlooked previously. You can learn an awful lot if you take the time to just stay still and watch for a while. A good lesson from this little grouper.I love stopping by this particular coral head and visiting all the baby blue tangs on my way to the crevasse. They are just so bright and vibrant, they certainly add a dash of color and spice to their spot on the bottom. When you get too close they all swim down inside the coral head, so you have to give them a little bit of space to get a picture of them.But the thing I got the most excited about on this dive was this nudibranch that Barry spotted and called me over to see. It is a Phyllidia ocellata, and one I've seen in the books, but have never seen one on Saipan in person. This guy was pretty big, a good 2" long and pretty wide. I shot a couple dozen shots of him wanting to make sure that I got at least a few good ones of him, since it was my first sighting of one on Saipan. This was once again proof to me that you have to go really slow and look carefully at everything on the bottom or you'll miss them entirely.These double banded anemone fish always grab my attention when I see them. They also have striking coloring that really stands out in the blue water or against the anemone itself. They can be a bit of a challenge though, because they never sit still and it's tough to snap the camera at the precise moment they are in the pose you want them in. But once in a while you luck out and get just the shot you were hoping for. This was just another routine Wing Beach dive, but as you can see, even a routine Wing Beach dive is extraordinary!


Anonymous said...

Great pictures! That vis looks stunning compared to Southern California.

I want to go to Saipan. Have you ever had any problems with cannibals?

Harry Blalock said...

The closest thing we have to cannibals here are the politicians, but they are all bark and no bite for the most part.

The visibility is awesome here generally, 75-100' on a bad day. If you want to come out, let me know I'd be happy to take you to all my favorite spots and show you around.

Anonymous said...

Nice shots Harry! Never seen a Phyllidia ocellata on Guam nor does UOG list it from the region. An exciting find!

Anonymous said...

As always, Harry, great shots.

You and I have a lot in common as far as our diving style. I'm constantly amazed at how many people want to get into the water only so that they can quickly get to some pre-determined place and return to the exit just as quickly. I guess diving is a lot like life: Some people live only to attain goals and get to the ends, others of us have goals, too, but live more to enjoy the journey. Your web page and photos provide a sort of metaphore for the jewels and treasures we can find in life when we look around and don't stay too focused on where we are going.

Oops, sorry about the arm-chair philosophizing.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I, too, have never seen the unusual nudi you photographed. Great find! Excellent photos. And thanks for continuing to share your stuff.

Oh, and for the Psycho Solo Diver: We haven't had problems with cannibals since the last swarm of pterodactyls finished them off a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Harry,

Feel free to take the e off of metaphor on my last comment. Oops! Maybe it is a metaphore, whatever that would be, but it is definitely a metaphor. I need to be more careful with my proofe reeding!