Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Looking Out From Under the Coral

If you ever see my truck at a dive site and jump in the water hoping to find me, there is a trick to it. You need to look for the bubbles coming up from under the coral, then keep looking until you find a little hole or opening to swim into. The little cave or tunnel will most likely be dark, so you might want to have a flashlight along, but you just want to keep following it until you find me. I love exploring new places and scooping the sand out of tunnels and holes to make swimthroughs where there were none before. Lau Lau now has an elaborate maze of little swimthroughs and tunnels that you can go through that didn't used to be there.Not only do I enjoy crawling through tight little spots like this just to see if I can make it through, but I always enjoy the view, looking at the blue ocean and the sunlight shining through the holes in the coral and the rocks.
And I always love the looks on other divers faces when I come popping out of one of these holes, they look like they are wondering what the heck I was doing in there, and how did I actually manage to fit? Like I said, some of these little caves can be pretty dark inside, especially if you have to go very far before getting to the exit. There are some of them that are as long as 50', that's quite a ways to be wiggling on your belly trying to get your tank positioned just right so that it will fit. The caves are an excellent place to look for things like these guys. The red lionfish seem to like dark little caves and holes to hide out in. That's one of the reasons it's always a good idea to have a flashlight if you're going to go wandering through one of the really dark ones, you just never know what may be laying on the sand where you want to put your hand. And yes, I did learn that lesson the hard way, and yes, it's very painful! I just thought this shot looked very cool. This is the washing machine in the Grotto when it is extremely calm. I'm just below the surface so you can see the underside of the surface of the water and the sun shining through on the shallow rocks. It's truly magical down there, and I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to share it with so many people over the years.

Sunday Diving Saipan Style

Kelli and I went diving at Lau Lau Sunday morning with Brad & Jeong-ah. Kelli's fin strap broke as she first jumped in, so she went back out and snorkeled in the shallows while Brad, Jeong-ah and I went down. Typically I always have spare fin straps and almost anything else I'd need to swap out as well, but I just got done totally cleaning out my truck because I'm supposed to trade it in soon. And of course it never fails, you never need that kind of stuff until you take it out of the truck and don't have it handy anymore.
I was swimming up above the coral looking for turtles and nudibranchs while Brad and Jeong-ah were down looking in the dirt. I didn't have any luck at all finding turtles, and didn't find any nudibranchs while they were out with me. They went back in after about 55 minutes but I stayed down since I still had a ton of air left. Brad mentioned he had a spare fin strap, and even though I didn't think it would be the right one for Kelli's fin, I thought he might get it to work. So I stayed down for another 45 minutes waiting for them to come back on their second dive. I went up when I figured it was about time for them to come back in and sure enough, the 3 of them were walking in the water heading out, so I took the fin with the replacement strap and put the others on Kelli and off we went. I managed to get in 2 hours and 40 minutes on that dive, you've got to love a big tank. There are always very cool picture opportunities all around you, it's all just a matter of seeing things through the camera lens and figuring out what will really stand out. I knew this little butterfly fish would look awesome on the underside of this soft coral when constrasted with the dark blue of the water. As I was taking pictures of this single banded anemone fish, he must have decided I was getting a little too close, and he came out and bit my finger. What is it with monkeys and fish deciding I need to be bitten lately? I don't really know, but I do know I don't really appreciate it. Kelli really wanted to go diving, and wasn't about to miss a dive even if she had to just do it with Brad & Jeong-ah, but fortunately I still had plenty of air to go back down with her. I think this was one of her favorite dives because I wasn't really swimming much at all, I was just kind of floating over the coral looking for nudibranchs. I did find one that I was pretty happy about, it is a Phyllidia elegans. This guy was just crawling along on top of the rocks and coral. These guys are only about an inch long, so you have to be looking pretty hard to find them. It was a great dive though and we all had a good time. After the dives of course we went to Oleai Beach Bar & Grill, where you should always go between dives.