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Posts tagged “Red Sea

Unintended Consequences

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I would laugh but this was seriously demented on my part. If you ask my kids they would chuckle and nod in agreement. That aside, the parties involved in the story know who they are so no names are necessary. I got my rescue diver qualification this summer. Since then I have rescued myself. And now I got to put skill to the test once more. I have been supportive and encouraging a friend to dive. He hasn’t been diving for some time. He’s cautious. He called upon an instructor to give him a refresher course. Me, I don’t listen. I should have seen the warnings. The poor guy is not so comfortable in the water and my encouragement does not trump his nervousness. We came to the dive venue together and after a long wait, we found the instructor was ill and would not be attending.

I am one specialty skill away from being a master diver, the top rank before you advance to become an instructor. Diving and teaching are two different things entirely. The instructor told me to go ahead and dive. My friend was already open water qualified. No problem. He agreed. I did all the usual. We rented gear on the spot and I double-checked him on set up. When he geared up I double-checked. Yes, his air tank was on.

From there everything went downhill. His body shape is such that his weight belt slipped down over his belly and on his hips and his BCD rose above his shoulders around his ears. He did not pack enough weight on his weight belt. We made a couple trips back to shore to correct things. The calamity was not over. With extra weight he sank like a stone. So I had to keep him from hurting his ears.

For the purpose of a good dive tale, I exaggerate freely.

But buoyancy was a definite issue. At one point I had to grab hold to reassure my friend he was safe and okay. Yup, two guys hugging in the coral having a special moment together. I was hoping none of my instructor acquaintances were watching, or anyone else either. Well, after fits and starts, I actually was able to get my friend to decent buoyancy balance as seen in the pictures. Of course getting to this point required considerable skill and patience. There was a lot of hyperventilating by all parties. And I did use my rescue skills. There was new meaning to ‘never come directly face to face with the other diver’ where he may grab onto you. As well as we knew each other it is not good when he embraces you in the water. Does the term death grip come to mind? Laugh. It wasn’t so bad. But the thought cross my mind as I was swinging around to grab his regulator to control his erratic movement. Remember what happens in the water stays in the water. So if you ask me, it never happened. Besides look how good he is floating above the platform.

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Rescue Diver

IMG_0797Yes I am. The card came to me and I am official. It feels no different than a day ago. We passed the test months ago. Farid took the course with me. Then we promptly rescued ourselves. This is the PADI course. Within the hierarchy the next step is to become an instructor. So far I have four specialty designations too. One more ‘merit badge’ and I can call myself a master diver. Wow! When I started a couple years back I never imagined I would be so advanced. As I say, it doesn’t feel any different today than yesterday. Passing the practical exam is not the same as an actual rescue. Saving a panicked diver is much different. I understand the theory. I hope I am up to the task if another diver is in trouble. Meanwhile all my dive buddies are happy and safe. I keep an eye on the novice divers and lend a hand or suggestion.

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Sea Cucumber

IMG_1244Of all the things I have seen this was a spooky scene. I have seen sea cucumbers in the daytime. They are nondescript and uninteresting. My camera points away from the dull uninteresting color. Anywhere else but there is preferable. But Farid turned this one over and it was like a monster zombie flick. Tentacles! They wove and waved in a surreal pattern as though vomiting from a hole on the underside of the cucumber. We were fascinated. I don’t know what it was that caused Farid to turn it over. I had given him a dive stick after my kids left in January. He has made it a well used gift in what we have discovered.IMG_1245


Boxer Shrimp

IMG_1318Our night dive was going slowly. Then Farid stopped and pointed at a common urchin on the seabed. But his pointer led me to two boxer shrimp lying in the shadow of the urchin. I guess they use the urchin as sort of a symbiotic protector.IMG_1324

Having been stung by an urchin I am most certainly careful not to ever go near an urchin. Not one but two shrimp were there! And they were lazy. I swam in close and used my flash and they hardly budged. The antennae stick out a long way. The bodies are small and hardly make a bite. I was just so happy to catch them in the open.IMG_1325After so many dives you live for these rare special moments. They don’t come often.


Fire Worm

IMG_1333This was found on a night dive. It is translucent and slimy. As we grabbed for it I thought it would pull apart and so we stopped. I’d have liked to seen all of it. For a brief moment we saw the other end, the head. But there was no way to see it all at once. The book says fire worm. It doesn’t look fiery but that matches the picture in my book. Fire coral burns when you touch it with your skin. It’s yellow colored. Maybe this fire worm is the same. Did I say we touched it? Yes, but with gloves and the dive stick. Remember, do not touch anything! It will cause some adverse reaction that you will likely regret. Nothing! Nada!


Nudibranch

IMG_1373This was a big one in relative size about two inches in length. It was still hard to see. But the horns are a part of the picture. You try but don’t always catch them. And, no, this time I did not play with the wildlife to get the shot. Finding nudibranch is like the game we played in school where you had to spy objects in the classroom. Once I show you where to look and my enlarged image, hey, it’s easy. No, every time down does not result in a sighting.


Clownfish

IMG_1368Nemo! I haven’t posted one in a while. The anemone has a mouth of sorts. It is well covered by the tentacles. Usually I can get a shot of the mouth but usually there is no clownfish on guard. I happened to get one today.


Spanish Dancer

IMG_1276Okay it’s Halloween in NYC and I am not there. I wish. But rather than pull an old image from my archives, I will regale you with another tale. In a round about way there is a costume somewhere?

In all the night dives over the past three seasons, I had yet to encounter a Spanish dancer. It is a mollusk. I have seen a picture on a poster at the dive center. But it was a goal of mine to finally see and photograph one myself. So on this night which started so slowly, Farid suddenly began swinging his light wildly to make me stop and join him. I have to admit he finds some of the best wildlife.IMG_1274

I had to check my book later. But, yes, it’s a Spanish dancer! And yes we played with it. Lifting it above the sea floor it flapped and wiggled down to the sand again. I guess that’s why they call it a dancer. Or otherwise it is the skirtlike edge which reminds you of a Spanish dancer’s skirt. Either way this was pretty thrilling.IMG_1280

What I learned is that you never give up on a dive. Something turns up to make it special. And with all my familiarity with the reef, there is always something I haven’t seen.


Octopus

IMG_1397Yes. Don’t play with the wildlife. Sorry, we did. Farid and I saw this guy simultaneously. Never give a boy a stick. And right away we were busy prying it from its hiding place. IMG_1384

The octopus tried camouflage, then it ran, and finally a squirt of ink. I had been surprised by ink before so I was prepared to keep an eye on the octopus’s movement. No we weren’t there to eat it. So after I got my shots we retreated and the octopus swam away free of our encounter.IMG_1378It’s hard to ever see an octopus in the open. I have seen just parts of their bodies. Then, recently, I had the luck to see them frequently and even during a night dive. There are enough in the ocean to fill seafood stores and restaurant menus. I still find an octopus encounter a rare event when diving. And now I am getting some shots with tentacles. Great!


Moray Eel

IMG_0975 aI’ve been down about 150 times now since starting a database and keeping track. I have seen what there is except that always there is a twist or variation. The photo expert I dove with told me he doesn’t like eels. Well I do like them enough to take advantage of an opportunity. I was over the reef and in a crevice there was a moray stretched out. What was unusual was that he was not inside a hole in the coral but fully exposed. He was quite large. I got my shots and even had a chance to get a nice movie. Every time down you see a variation on what you might have seen before and each time it’s a chance to do it different. So I try.


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