This is another unusual sighting. I saw a spotted eel three times. With my kids we saw part of one during a night dive. And once again on another night dive I had a pretty good look too. This time we had an eel in broad daylight. It swam along, tried to hide, and then made a run for it. I got movie and stills. The white balance was off because it was moving through layer of shadow and depth. The eel is basically yellow with brown spots. I got images but the color was not perfect. This is why you go down and keep trying. And once again this is not a snake. Snakes don’t breathe underwater.
There are holes in the sand. They are present where there is no coral. The sand patches are like little deserts. I never see any activity around the holes. I have been told that there is a sentinel fish that guards and looks out. And there is a shrimp below who makes the hole. Both fish work together. This particular weekend I was fortunate to catch everyone home together. Notice the little antennae of the shrimp. And the fish is looking up and to the left. The deceptive eye marking is on the tail and to your right. Yup, you don’t see this everyday.
We were headed back to base. The late afternoon fading light made it hard to get shots. I was still experiencing camera woe. And there swimming before us was an electric ray. At least this is the name in my book. It was interested in getting as far away from us as it could. I have seen an electric ray only once in three years. So this was pretty special. And yes, I played with the wildlife to get him to stay in view long enough to get a decent shot. I shot a bunch but these images were the best of the lot and not excellent as is my usual luck. But an image of an electric ray is special no matter what.
I wanted to throw up in my mask. That would have been unwise. Or if I had a spear gun, which I don’t, to at least put one of us out of misery. What a riot of color! Fortunately the face is above water. I am not sure there is anywhere that this outfit is appropriate to wear. Where are Joan Rivers and the fashion police? Okay enough of this moaning, I am just pointing out that one must never put away the camera until you are completely out of the water. Something may unexpectedly present.
It looks like a color blindness test. It was there on a night dive. I admit I have not seen another like it. The lighting was improvised using my dive flashlight. The center of the beam is too brilliant and overexposed my image. So I had to rely on the light at the border. Well you get the picture. And I shot without my usual flash. And it is a starfish in the sea.
It was a weekend from hell. It started well. I met a group of divers whom I knew and was welcomed to dive with them. After the second dive I came out of the water to find my dive bag gone. My work card, driver’s license, car keys, batteries, cell phones including my iPhone, and underwater flashlights were all gone with the bag. Another diver in our group lost a bag with his clothes. The disaster was the work card and car keys. We had set up our gear next to another dive group. They overlapped our dives and when we came out this group was long gone. No one had paid particular attention to them and we did not know any of their group’s names.
An intense hour of investigation got us the name of the dive instructor and the name of one of the group. We began to make calls. Of course we called my cellphone to see who might answer. And no, I did not have my iPhone finder app and location was off to preserve the battery. We got hold of the instructor. His phone was initially off. He did not find any bags. We urged him to call his group of students. He did so but it sounded reluctant. About five hours later and with three handoffs and plausible deniability I finally received my bag. I was told no one had opened it. But it was obvious that the zippers had all been resealed inside. And my bag with all the salt stains was now clean again.
All my stuff was present and accounted. Horray! We simply made lemonade out of the lemons and went ahead and did a night dive. In another post you will see a cuttlefish from that dive.
My woe was not over. My camera immediately malfunctioned at the start of the night dive. The flash would not fire. In the dark ocean water this is a serious handicap. I switched over to ambient light of the flashlights we were using. White balanced and my camera was not too bad although exposure and shutter speed bedeviled me. I got some decent shots. When I got home I discovered the cause was related to a water leak in the camera housing. The next morning the flash functioned flawlessly.
That day I took the camera into the water again and it is still leaking. It leaked only a few tiny drops but it is definitely not watertight. I have resealed the O rings with the hope that this will work.
Having been thoroughly rattled about losing my bag and ID, I was not quite right in my head when I packed to leave after the night dive. I was packing up next to a couple of instructors – husband and wife – whom I knew. In the confusion I did not pack my regulator. That would be the yellow hose equipment in the picture. It was either in the dive shop or with this couple. The next day the dive shop did not have my regulator set aside. They had about 200 regulators hanging up and each one looks pretty much the same as the other. No dice, not there, and then I figured my friends had it.
But if it was with other rental gear then I worried they would return their students’ stuff without noticing my gear. I did not have a phone number. The instructor was a friend to one of my patient’s father, another diver. It’s a small world. Unfortunately the father was in Jordan. More calls went back and forth and I was about to give up seeing my gear again. Then, out of the blue, I received a call from my clinic nurse. Bless her, she was protecting me from being bothered. She told me someone had arrived to speak to me. It was Khalid, my friend, who inquired whether I would like to have my regulator back. Oh joy! He had found it among his gear and deduced we had mixed our stuff. He kindly brought it to the hospital and I am reunited with my gear again.
Now to find out if my camera housing is repaired and will not leak. Cross fingers and keep thinking positive thoughts. So far so good. As bad as it all went, I am essentially back where I began. It was as I would say making some easy dives the hard way. Oh! I did see some pretty nice fish when I was able to dive.
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.
Yes 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.
Of 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.
Our 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.
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.After so many dives you live for these rare special moments. They don’t come often.