A Good Spotter Makes All the Difference

Posted in Under the Sea on February 9th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

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).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More Magic from Magic Passage

Posted in Under the Sea on August 30th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

It was a beautiful morning on Saturday with calm seas, something that we’ve not seen lately. This, along with an incoming tide, gave us a chance to dive Magic Passage,  which we have not visited for some time.

As soon as we reached the bottom at about 25 metres, we saw a Black-Blotched Stingray (Taeniura meyeni):

Black-Blotched Stingray (Taeniura meyeni)

It’s been a while since I saw one of these. I was so surprised, since I did not see it immediately (it was behind me), that I had time only for a couple of quick shots before it zipped away. The shot is very poor because of motion blur, but interesting nonetheless.

As we worked our way down toward the mouth of the passage I ran across this beautiful starfish about the size of a dinner plate:

Starfish at the bottom of Magic Passage

This is probably the most common species of starfish around Madang.

Here is a nice shot of Amanda Watson and Pascal Michon moving down the south wall of the passage:

Amanda Watson and Pascal Michon at Magic Passage

A small school of barracuda were pointing into the current. One lonely Midnight Snapper was hiding among them:

Barracuda at Magic Passage

As soon as I got up close enough behind them to be an annoyance, they wheeled around to avoid me and gave me the opportunity for this very nice shot:

The barracuda avoiding me

Down closer to the mouth of the passage a large mob of eels were waving in the current snapping up goodies floating past:

Eels at Magic Passage

This is the best eel shot that I’ve yet managed. They are usually quick to pull back down in their holes as soon as you approach. I don’t know why they let me come so close to them on this occasion.

If you’ve followed our dives before, you already know that the sub-adult Silver Sweetlips is my favourite fish:

Sub-adult Silver Sweetlips at Magic Passage

That is not just because it is a very pretty critter. It is a photographer’s dream fish. They are so calm and placid and unafraid.

They remind me of my human friends. The tropics will do that to you.

Tags: , , , , , ,