A Good Spotter Makes All the Difference

Posted in Under the Sea on February 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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Since my good dive buddy Richard Jones got bent a while back he has not been able to dive, until recently. He finally got an insurance company to cover him down to 18 metres. So, when we go diving, we stay shallow and enjoy the best that the reefs have to offer. This is good news all around. Rich is back in the water, we are more or less confined to the best part of the reef for photography and Rich has eyes like an eagle.

Rich and I have had some great diving adventures together and I’m so glad to have him back on Faded Glory.  He also has just purchased a Canon G11 and housing, so I’m expecting that a competition will soon begin. He is a nudibranch freak. Get ready for a steady diet of rare nudis. Yum, yum.

Here’s a shot of Rich on our first cooperative, “I spot, you shoot.” dive:

Notice him giving me the “come hither” signal.

The first thing that we saw when we got off of the boat in pretty miserable conditions, with dirty fresh water from the Gol Gol River  over us was this lumbering Sea Cucumber (Thelenota ananas):Pretty is not a word that I would use to describe these alien critters.

I think that this must be some kind of algae, although the colour looks highly improbable:It really is as purple as it looks. It waves around in the current like silky hair. I thought that there was a slim possibility that it was a clutch of nudibranch eggs, but nothing that I can find matches it. After Googling for a few minutes, I gave up. Anybody have a better idea? I also tried “purple marine algae”, but no luck.

We see giant Barrel Sponges all the time. However, we seldom see small ones. It’s the old, “Where are the baby pigeons?” question. Here is a shot of a very young Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria):It is only about the size of your fist. The big ones can be the size and weight of a Volkswagen. There is a Squirrelfish or Soldierfish of some kind peeking at me from below the ledge. I can’t see enough of the body to identify it.

This poor crab was somebody’s dinner. All that’s left of him is one claw:It’s amazing that we see so little evidence of the nightly carnage on the reef.

I snapped this quick shot as a school of Narrow-Stripe Fusiliers (Pterocaesio tessellata)  with one Blue and Yellow Fusilier (Caesio teres)  flashed past me. It’s a credit to the G11, not to me, that the image came out looking as good as it does:Not a wall hanger, but you can identify the fish.

Finally, here is a nasty-tempered Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus):This grumpy customer kept sticking his toothy face right out at me. If he looked as if he were going to bite, I’d just bump his nose with my camera, not hard, just enough to make his teensy-weensy brain reboot. He’d pull back in his hole and sulk for a few seconds and then peek out again. No harm – no foul.

I know that I’m going to get bit some day. Ah, well, a few more scars. It just adds to the legend (in my head).

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Back Into the Briny Deep

Posted in Under the Sea on April 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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It has been a few weeks since I’ve been out diving. The weather has been miserable and nobody is motivated to go out in the rain. Yesterday, however, I did get lucky and had two divers and a snorkeler on the boat. We went to the south end of Leper Island.

I thought that I had my camera fixed, but it still locks up when I go deeper than about five metres. I think that I know how to fix it now, but I can’t be bothered to work on it because I’ll be winging off to Port Moresby and Brisbane on Wednesday (yikes, only two days away!). I’m going to try to post every day, but it may not be possible. If I go missing for a day or two, I’m not dead (probably), I’m just on the road.

I’ll show you a few shots that I did manage to get on Saturday, even though all I could do with my camera was press the shutter release. Here is a small school of Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres):

Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres)It’s not a particularly good shot, but the pattern of their bright yellow tails scattered across the image is amusing. I have another image of this fish in A Nasty Customer and Fancy Pants.

These Bblackspot Snappers (Lutjanus ehrenbergii) swam past in a constant stream for two or three minutes. There must have been thousands of them:

Blackspot Snapper (Lutjanus ehrenbergii)The water on the surface was quite cold, at least by our standards. It was raining a little and the wind was picking up. It was a delicious experience to dive down under the cold fresh river water on top into the wonderfully warm water below. Our average water temperature down as far as you dare to go is between 28 and 29° C (82-84°F).

I’ll finish up today with a nice little shot of a small mob of female Purple Antheas (Psudanthias tuka):

Female Purple Anthea (Psudanthias tuka)The Antheas are among my favourites in the category of small fish. There are a multitude of varieties here. They float like clouds of jewels over the coral.

I will probably have one or two more posts before I’ll be reporting from Brisbane.

G’day, mate.

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