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Posts tagged “Night Dive

Green Eyes

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Green eyed dancing shrimp. Hard to photograph. Yup. It’s a fact. Everyone loves to eat shrimp and they seem to know this. So they hide all day and come out only at night and even then they hide under the coral. Their eyes reflect your flashlight. So it’s easy to find them. They are small. And so the auto focus on my camera hunts. It does not often deliver the desired results. So when it happens, that is bliss. Wow. Perfect. He stayed around for me to get his picture. There were many shrimp this night. But this was the guy who made my night and my album. Details. Everything has to come together just so. And if not, then there is a blank space waiting to be filled when I finally find the right subject.


Night Hermit

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Those guys in the last post – the ones taking their night dive specialty – one of them found this at the dive platform. I find the tiny ones. You’ve seen my pictures. No matter. The guy pointed this out with his light. I knew immediately what it was. It’s nothing to look at – a gnarly shell moving on the bottom. But large! How large? The size of my fist. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But it was large. This is nice. It’s a lot easier to see the crab. And so I got a nice shot or two.

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A crab this large is not seen much on the reef during the day. And if it already has a shell, why does it carry around a second shell on its back? Meanwhile it’s my mission to photograph all the hermit crabs I come across. In order to do so you have to turn them over. That would be messing with the wildlife. Sorry kids….

 

 


Mantis Shrimp

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This guy has been on the reef at the dive platform for a couple years now. It lives in a big tubular hole that is deep. How deep? Very. It is known to spring on its prey. Lightning fast. The blow of the claws stuns and kills its prey. And it will inflict serious harm on me. At least that is what I have been told. So I am very careful. Yup, trust me. I’m careful. Right. And please don’t laugh. I really am. So I never get close in the daytime. I’ve tried. No luck. Not too much.

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He builds a cover and stays in his hole until night. I annoy him by opening the hole and rolling a piece of coral inside. He has to clean up and push it out. Then I grab a shot. The problem is that he’s a gray white crab in the same color sand. It’s darn hard to get a proper exposure. Snow pictures that should look white, they look gray. Yes, yes, compensate. I still have trouble. The night dive and strobe were much better.

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The last time around, I was pushed to the side by Aseri. He was shooting video. Big camera and major bright video lights. Ah! So the crab does not know what to do in the bright lights. Like a deer in the headlights, it seems that it is blinded. And it just stays still and does not retreat. Fine. So this time around, no Aseri. He was with another diver. And I shot and shot. And then I tried to get in close. Oh! Stupid! It springs! And fast! Though I have never seen it in action, I believe the You Tubes. And then I wanted to macro the eyes and the mouth. Yes, the lion’s den and the lion’s mouth. Stupid? I made my settings. The current was pushing me around. Steadied myself. He stayed right there. I’ve got my flashlight on him. Can’t see, can’t focus. Remember? And now I move in closer and closer.

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My hand is on the camera. Right hand. I’m left handed. The shutter is on the right. I’m thinking that if he strikes he’ll most likely hit the camera and not my hand. But at least it’s not my operating hand(left). Stupid stuff you think about when you are about to do something no one would recommend. Ah! But I got in close. I could have gone closer. But for now, that was pretty brave of me.

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Hey! There are no whites to the eye of a shrimp. Yes, it has two claws. They bend the rules and definitions a lot. There were black spots. And if you will look those spots and the eyes swiveled with my movement. So, stupid, he was watching you. Me. Next time, if there is one, I’ll try to macro even closer. Or, not!


Toby

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Not his name but its name. Get it. Why? I don’t know. I’m happy enough to know and remember the name. He’s cute. Tiny fins and he flits. I know. Birds flit. But this fishie does too. He’s skittish and does not like me approaching. He’s got good taste. Or, he tastes good? Ugh. Bad joke. Sorry. At night we found him! Asleep! We, because you never dive without a buddy and he (my buddy) found it. I have such good friends who show me things. At the same time we were in ‘deco’ mode. I was a bit worried. He was not. We survived. And my other dive buddy, Amr, may never know the truth of this night. He’s my safety conscience. Yes, indeed, it’s good to have a conscience. And on this dive we used all the air in my tank. Well, I was responsible for using it all. Not him. Yup the very last breath. 90+ minutes of dive time.

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Oh! So the fishie was sleeping. Why? And out in the open? But he did not move and I was all over him with my strobe and lights and flash and all. Got a nice shot. He posed!


Boxer Shrimp

IMG_0274I found this one. I was following my dive buddy to shallower water. The long antennae are the tipoff. They reflect the flashlight. You may shoot a series and only one shot will do. Fortunately the shrimp was cooperative and I got this with the claws open.


Crab

IMG_9861Never put your camera away early. Another rule I follow. As we were headed home to shore, I looked in one more hole. There was a brightly colored crab. One shot only, and the exposure and focus were kind. There’s no name in the guidebook. I chased to get one more shot. The other side of the hole had two spiny urchins guarding. I could glimpse the crab, but no shot, no way. I’ve been spiked by an urchin. Once was more than enough. The crab was very shy and never put in a new appearance.


Spotted Eel

IMG_9841I have been told there are no sea snakes here. It makes sense. Snakes breath air. This was a spotted eel. He was going along the bottom when we found him. I was stuck. I had just caught another puffer in my left hand. I had my camera in the right. That left me with no way to adjust the camera. And I needed another hand for the flashlight. Yes I could have used help from the octopus. This is a very rare find. The kids saw one in December but we only got a small part of the body – no head shot.


Catfish Eel

IMG_8986Spooky. There is a type of diving, which I love. It’s night diving. Fish come out at night when they think danger is less than during the day. These fish were swarming on the bottom. They weren’t headed anywhere. They turned toward the flashlight. So I got a head on view. I can say it was spooky to see them just going nowhere. What were they doing? You never see them during the day. So where do so many fish hide? I have questions. Meanwhile it’s a strange encounter. And if you’re afraid of the dark…


Dive Lessons

IMG_1068David doesn’t mind if I mention his name. He got dive lessons and in three days he was open water qualified. He’s a good swimmer. And he is not one to panic underwater. My daughter was immediately protective of him because she worried that I was not quite reliable as an underwater coach. For some reason, they thought I would put him at risk for injury. I skied with them without limits; they survived. So? Ok, ok, I tend to be casual about general things and I only really sweat the details. It seems the kids know me too well.IMG_6128On the very first day of independent diving, I persuaded the kids to do a night dive. My daughter (no first names, please, so now it’s “J”) had done it before and didn’t care to do it. (She’s also afraid of the dark?) Somehow we were there at the dive resort right at sunset. I hadn’t intended to do a night dive. But jeezzz, we’re here… not my fault. It gets dark early here too. So she agreed and we went. Dave wanted to try; he was curious. It was chilly at dusk so the kids wanted to go early before dark until David mentioned that the big fish feed at dusk. It was plenty dark when we hit the water for what was agreed to be a 30 minute night dive.IMG_1101

And it was 60 minutes later when we emerged. The kids didn’t want to come up at 30 minutes! We had had a very wonderful experience. Every dive has one great moment. Ours came when J saw a hermit crab hauling its shell on a coral outcrop. We/she photographed the crab that I would never have seen except for J’s excellent vision.IMG_5805My memorable moment came earlier. I had briefed the kids on how to swim underwater and the safety involved in the dark. They both knew to stick close to me. It was more of an admonishment from J for me not to swim away from them. I led, they followed, and when I turned to be sure they were close behind they were there swimming arm and arm, flashlights swinging in all directions trying to avoid/scare off predators. They refused to get separated and so held one another close. Touching! My wife told me they weren’t getting along so well at Xmas. There’s nothing like a little terror to bring out true feelings.IMG_5824


Don’t Touch Nothin’

IMG_3998I paraphrase Shorty’s (Short Round – Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom) words with emphasis. The stinging did feel like life and death for a moment.

This picture looks worse than it felt. I will admit that it scared the “.…” out of me. I’ve told you the rule about not touching anything under the sea. Everything is setup to do some nasty thing if you are careless. The image here is the aftermath of inadvertently touching a sea urchin. Honest! I didn’t mean to do it. After all the first lesson applies. Don’t touch nothin’!!IMG_4900

My first lesson was with fire coral. Here’s a neat image. A baby “giant” clam is unexpectedly nestled here. IMG_3654 copyI inadvertently brushed up against a fire coral once while I was doing the decompression stop. In my mind fire coral was red in color. Nope! As soon as I touched this my wrist started to blister. I mean right there underwater I could see blisters like a second degree burn. By the time I was out of the water minutes later the blisters were gone. Hmmm! But then I had the worst itching rash there for several weeks. If I look I can still see the scar. So yes!!! I know not to touch stuff.

This leads to the circumstances of my mistake. We were on a night dive. (I love night dives. There’s different things you see at night and I like that.) IMG_0166The dive master stabbed a porcupine puffer fish with his big long flashlight. He trapped it and it blew up. Wow! I was impressed and wanted to get that ‘special’ image. There are only so many things you can do (two hands!).IMG_3952 copy I had my light in the left hand and my camera in the right. I dropped my light and put my hand down to steady myself for the shot. Immediately I felt the sting of my mistake. I hadn’t looked. And right through my glove I got the sting of a red sea urchin around twelve or so stinging spines. They are barbed and have venom. To make matters worse, no glove on the right hand, it’s dark, and I can’t really see well without glasses underwater. The marks up my thumb came as I tried to extract the stingers and remove my glove.

Luckily it was a red sea urchin that I encountered. Armand, another diver, told me that the gray ones are even more vicious and that he suffered for weeks when he touched one of them.IMG_4915

So here’s what I learned online. Use vinegar and hot water. Shave off the spines with a razor. Don’t use a pin to dig around and remove the stingers.

And what I can tell you: Throw away your glove. I did. The secondary stings you get from trying to separate yourself and get the stingers out of your hand will make matters worse. Initially underwater it appeared that I was bleeding under the skin – little blue hematomas had formed around each stinger where I had been stung. That’s not true. The stings have a dye which tattoos you. Funny. The tattoos began to disappear within hours and were gone by the morning. The stingers biodegrade quickly. You can’t remove them easily. In fact because of the barbs it’s pretty difficult to get at them. Infection seems to be some risk but keeping the area clean works mostly. You get swelling but it wasn’t too bad. At least the pain was tolerable. It was my dominant left hand so there was a moment of concern about being hampered to do surgery.

Don’t try this at home: I didn’t have the stuff to remove the splinters (spines) at home. I hate splinters. So I was determined to take care of this despite the internet warnings. Besides, I’m a surgeon (arrogant bastard thinking). I emailed my assistant to prepare the operating (Zeiss) microscope and micro forceps. I spent an hour in the pool in the morning to exercise (and soak) my hand. Then with my operating nurse and my assistant (I needed an extra hand), we spent about 45 minutes digging around and extracting the embedded spines. They were soft and really fell apart. We had to dig (a bit painfully) to remove the foreign debris. I got most of the stuff out. We worked under high magnification (Zeiss operating microscope est price $250K) and with the finest forceps (ophthalmology – not fine enough) and finally cleaned up about twenty to thirty sites where there was embedded sea urchin. Yeah!! Priceless!! It’s now 36 hours later and two nights have passed. There are some spots you can see where we dug around yesterday but the swelling has subsided. There’s very little pain and I promise not to do this again. (Note to myself: Don’t touch anything! Never!)

IMG_3959 copyOops! Back to my story… so the divemaster has trapped the porcupine puffer and it blew up. There I am screaming (figuratively) from pain. He actually saw me struggling but didn’t know I was stung. I, I’m juggling camera, flashlight (I want to see what the Hell had stung me), trying to look at my hand, and trying to get an image of the blown up puffer before they look let it go. You can all have a laugh, I was literally as they say trying to decide whether to “shit or get off the pot.” And the flash on a point and shoot is not geared for fast recycling. So I’m mashing my finger on the shutter release and watching the flash indicator blink as the flash slowly slowly recycles all the while thinking that I’m about to die from sea urchin venom. And no!! I did not think about surfacing and tending to this wound. My reasoning was that the cool water was keeping the swelling in check. The pain would come later. My dive buddy held onto the puffer for a good long while. It ain’t easy catching one. So he didn’t want to part. And more cruelly he spun the sucker like a basketball. No harm. It did swim away and I understand why it shies away from human contact.IMG_3928 copy

This leads me to remind you that I had previously posted about a small puffer we caught on a night dive. This time the story has a lot more color.IMG_4860

It is a laugh now. But while it’s happening, you think some pretty grim thoughts. Of course the big thing is not to panic. And the second is not to do something stupid, which I did as I tried to remove the stingers underwater and stuck myself higher up on my thumb. And the smartest thing was to throw away the glove, which would have caused more pain if I had tried to remove the stingers and use it again.