I wrote this post in my head and then never put it to paper. Someone I know laughs. I have no blank paper in my villa. I have, maybe, a pen and I don’t think there is a pencil. And, I’d dearly like to have a ruler. I needed to measure my bed mattress. Who knew? There are king and super king bed sheets. One does not fit the other. And I was put out that my sheets were too short. Yeah, so I measured. My hand span is roughly 9 inches. It’s a nice number to know. But this ain’t horseshoes. And the difference in sheet size is not so large. Anyway, it’s standard king. I got a measuring tape from the hospital. We use it to measure baby head sizes. I will parenthetically add, that tape is free too. I was shocked to actually buy a roll of adhesive tape (not related to measuring tape) in the drug store. Really?! They charge that much? No wonder medical costs are out of control.
So, meandering along the bottom on a night dive this puffer appeared out of the dark. …Lots of people hate the dark. And night dives seem to bring out the fears in even more detail. After all, monsters of the deep come out of the dark and eat whole ships! Oh my! But mostly I think “JAWS” the movie is a lingering memory. Shark! Attack! And even if you never saw the movie, there’s plenty of limbs and life injuries around the world with unwary unfortunate swimmers. If it’s any consolation, sharks like fatty seals. They get few meals. So when they taste human, there’s not enough fat, they spit you out. It’s nice to know you don’t pass the taste test. So mostly you don’t get eaten. I dunno, I think the very bright LED light is calling sharks to dinner, “Here sharky. Here sharky. Dinner!” And if you are ever on a night dive with me, and, my light goes out, “Well, dinner is served. Him (the diver next to me), not me…” Yes, be afraid… be very afraid.
Anyway, this poor puffer – white spotted puffer – was just down along the bottom. And it’s not common enough to see that I pass an opportunity to take a picture. And as I shot I saw something in its mouth. Was it eating another fish? Nope. A hook. A shiny reflection, the darned thing was embedded and would stay for the rest of his life. Now if he would only let me help…. Yeah, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you…”
Not the music man, the puffer fish. It’s a spiky puffer. The secret to night diving is that the light is brilliant. The new LED lights are very bright. There is a rule. Do not shine your light in someone’s eyes. No they won’t go blind. But they will not be able to see. Same difference? But it’s terribly rude. Fish have the same problem. And as far as I see (see, ha, pun?) they have no pupils to regulate the light. So it is playing with the wildlife once again (sorry, kids – mine). They don’t read here so I get away with stuff… You shine your light into their eyes. They are blinded. And you can take your pictures.
You could also pull on their tail. (another big no no!) And then they puff up. With what? Air? Helium? What? … water, silly, yup, water! Duh! Well, it took me a minute too. I did not ask, but still, it was a matter of common sense. When they expand – blow up! – they are bigger. The spikes are sharp – like rose thorns. And then Mr Puffer is not so appetizing as he is so intimidating. The problem is that if you are the size of a basketball your fins do not propel you well. So, it’s Catch 22. You move slowly away and I get to take lots of pictures. It works!. The things we do in the dark are amazing. And this is all just between us. I don’t need animal rights guys hounding me.
I’ve seen this trick but never pulled it off myself. And please don’t tell the kids I was annoying the wildlife. Puffer fish get a bright flashlight beam in their face and they don’t move. So I grabbed it. It puffs. It’s not air. I was wondering. No, it’s water. The feel is like sandpaper. He was not hurt. We got some pictures. Night diving is a challenge to get exposure. The fish looked better then I did. Hey! It was my camera. But I didn’t take my own picture.
(I bet maybe you thought this was going to be about something else, eh?) A while back I related the story about how Omar, one of the dive instructors, had caught a puffer fish in his bear hands. The girl I was diving with did not let it go until we left the water. She held so tight, I thought she was going to go home with it.
We were on a fun dive again with Omar. We started by seeing a stone fish and a moray eel right next to one another. It was a great dive for seeing things. With J off photographing something, David would swim above just observing. Then Omar came along; he’d done it again… caught another puffer barehanded.
This time J and David were horrified. Their mother had raised them with strong morals and they were against harassing the wildlife. Omar came along and tried to place the puffer in David’s hands. Omar mistakenly thought David was afraid. And J took the puffer only because it would be the only way to let the poor fish be released from torment.
I was just about to get separated from my dive buddies. They were up ahead and leaving me behind. You can’t really ‘call’ to slow down. In the open swimming along the sand were a moray eel … and a puffer. I have not seen a moray in the open. And I have not seen one with blue striations. It’s possible that this is not a moray. Whatever, it was not happy to be in the glare of my dive light. But I had the ability to shoot some images. I just couldn’t get low enough for a sea bed shot.
‘Never leave you wingman,’ Tom Cruise, Top Gun… yes, I did get separated. At night this could be an issue! Visibility is poor in the pitch black. So I turned off my own light and watched for the glow of the other divers. It worked and I caught up to everybody. Worst case scenario, I surface on my own, but I wanted to continue the dive. I was happy to be reunited.
Here’s one that I haven’t seen before. My last night dive was so much fun I couldn’t wait to do it again. This pufferfish has been a unique find. I now know there are three kinds – pufferfish, masked, and spiked. This one looks the most unusual, almost bizarre and cartoonish. I imagine the spikes to be like thorns on a tree. And then I wonder why nature evolved this way.
Wrong! Reading helps. This is a porcupine fish also called blowfish but apparently are related to but are not pufferfish. It turns out that the spike erect as the fish blows up. So far I have only seen this fish with its spikes up. As a puffer or blow fish, I had imagined them inflated like a balloon with its spikes out on all sides. Wrong again, I guess.