Word and Image

Posts tagged “Underwater



Look closely. There are tubular structures on the side of an octopus’s head. They expand and I assume this has some respiratory function. It surely isn’t the mouth. That would be a single structure. I think most animals have one mouth and two nostrils. Hey, maybe I’m wrong and there’s one nose and one mouth. But fish have gills and they are paired. Right? Well, the point is for you to look. I sure did. I have too many octopus pictures to put in another post. Except, I’m fascinated.


This guy has his tentacles in his mouth and nose? Both sides and I count six tentacles. For me this is a first. I don’t know the behavior but I can tell you that I have never seen a girl admit to or pick her nose in public. It’s a boy octopus.

Snowflake Moray Eel


I can’t tell you how many times I have taken an image and missed another. That is to say, a fish I would love to have a picture is chased while an equally great fish is there in the periphery. I saw a trunkfish. They are extremely shy. And they are wary. So I pretty much never get a shot. While chasing down this fellow I pretty much stumbled upon a snowflake moray.


No trunkfish today, the moray is much more rare. I’ve only seen one once for an instance. Off on a quest, and this guy was on the move. I chased him up and under and around coral. I caught the attention of my buddy who joined in. But I had the inside edge. I got a few headshots. Yellow nostrils, ugly, just like the picture in my book. Right about that moment my dive guru returns and checks on the two of us and discovers we are in decompression mode….

End of the Dive


I made a mistake diving. It did not end in catastrophe. I was with an instructor and I mistakenly depended upon him to keep me out of trouble. We ended the dive in decompression mode and I sat for 18 minutes and he for 24 minutes at 10 feet. It’s a long story but I do not yet understand the conservative algorithm for my new dive computer. I knew it was warning me. I failed to go to the dive ceiling point and the computer penalized me. No big deal. I was out of air. I am not a fish in water. The usual dive buddy, also an instructor, saved us with a spare tank and we cooled our heels at ten feet. The water was relatively cold. Everyone around here has been staying away because it’s January. And of course, I set a personal record for time underwater, in the cold (shivering) at 101 minutes. It’s a lesson I shall not forget. Please don’t worry. We were smart enough to listen to the warning eventually and were never in true danger. Nonetheless, I question the physiology of the difference ten feet will make on nitrogen desaturation. I may question but I still follow the rule. Oh, the shot I have is the last shot I took before I headed to the decompression area, like the penalty box in hockey. Yup, I had to cool my heels. And brother, it was cold sitting around that extra time.

Three Two One…


Well actually it’s a countdown. This featherduster worm is pink to my eye underwater. I was surprised that it is not so brilliantly pink with a strobe. What you don’t see and I never show is that these worms react and will shrink up when threatened. No, I did not threaten this one. I can’t curse underwater. But the sequence is here to see. I never got a sequence as the worm closed up. Dumb luck, diver, not worm.



Electric Ray


It’s a decent image. But the point here is that the image represents a story. After time spent in the old city I detour to the Red Sea again. I dove at Christmas. And though I am an accomplished amateur diver there is much to learn. I was given the opportunity to dive with a nitrox mix in my tank. This was a 38% mix of oxygen. It allows you to stay down at depth for longer than with room air 21%. I have two dive computers. The second one was not set for nitrox and it was bleeping unhappily for a couple days afterward. Fortunately my spiffy new dive computer was accurate and kept me safe. It’s a Suunto – made in Finland – and widely in use around here. It has a computer cable to hook up and download the dive memory to your computer. It doesn’t work on a Macintosh. (Just a bit of public rebuke for Suunto who has thus far been clueless on how to solve this problem. Hint: I’m still waiting for an answer and am pissed.). Meanwhile I’m more than nervous about a nitrox dive. It’s a new experience. You don’t mess around underwater. Safety! I was warned my bottom was 85 feet. Do not go below 85 feet! You won’t explode but the enriched oxygen is not good for safety below your bottom limit. And…. this electric ray was at 89 feet! I drifted down and shot a few images and then was scolded and sent higher. Nothing happened; the sky did not fall. And I got a shot. In medicine we use high concentrations of oxygen to treat medical problems. But I am not familiar with underwater concentrations and how they affect physiology. Some late night reading…

Turtle Ray


No silly. It’s two animals. Did I mislead you? I’ll switch back to land soon. I’m just posting stuff I’ve seen recently and catching up. So you land folks, there’s a change coming soon. I caught a turtle. It’s probably because the water is cooler and the animal was lethargic. We saw it and I took off to get a photo. I was actually about a foot away. No, I did not grab it or play with it. And it still swam faster than me. I was surprised to catch up. Maybe it’s my spiffy split fins that helped?


And then someone pointed out a ray. This was one of the deep water ones. You see them swimming up and down the reef. I was too far away to get anything but a taste. Someday…. Meanwhile, I have this poor image. But it’s an image…

Vertical Limit


The limit for recreational divers is 40 meters or about 120 feet. There is danger in that the nitrogen that dissolves in the blood will cause clouding of mentation. Everything is blue. Red color (light) has long been filtered out. That would mean – getting stupid – in a very bad place. They demonstrate this by asking you to write numbers and letters on a board while at this level. My numbers and penmanship was definitely not too good. I’ve been down here a few times. No ill effects. But I realized that swimming behind my buddy is not a good idea. If I get stupid he’s not watching me. So nowadays I swim along side. So far so good. I might add the water is not that much colder when you are deep.


But for tropical fish it is cold enough to make them lethargic. So we chanced upon this puffer and he reluctantly moved off as we approached. At 120 feet we calculate about 9 minutes of safe time to be at this depth. The fish have no timer. How do they know when to go up? I’ve been told it is quieter at this depth. I just see it as too blue and not too colorful for images unless you have a strobe. Good thing I have a strobe now. …it’s more fun.

Open Mouth – Don’t Try This At Home


Yes, I do not recommend that anyone try this. Fish need help to get rid of parasites and to clean their skin and teeth. No, there is not tooth paste with that. And there’s no soap. There is plenty of water. A fish will clean you up. It’s called a wrasse. It swims after passing fish and cleans them. The fish tolerate cleaning because it is beneficial.


Remember the movies where the lion tamer sticks his head in the lion’s mouth? Yes, here’s a brave fellow. He’s just a bite. So I guess the big guy would rather have the cleaning than eat the little fellow. I’d still say, “Don’t try this at home.” Let the professionals do their thing. Or would it be better to say, “Don’t get lost in your work.” Once again, you cannot tell from my image. But this moray was a huge one. It was as big and thick as a human waist. Very big! It’s not fish story. There were four of us who all saw it and we agree. … that’s our story and we are sticking with it.

Wiley’s Again


I said rare right? That was yesterday. It is rare to see one. It’s not my first but each time is special. Some things are just not seen often. But how would you know. So here is another. What’s remarkable is that this one is big. How big? About the width of my fist. That big? Yeah. How do you tell from an image. They are all close ups.


Well I could put something there for relative scale. But instead I’m asking you to trust in my observation. I’m not making an exaggerated fish story up. And yes I got the details too. You have plenty of time to photograph. I thought. But this big guy was moving out of sight under the coral. A big lion fish sidled up…

Wiley’s Dorid Nudibranch


This is a rare find for me. Lots of things you see commonly and never think much of it. I’ve seen this nudibranch only a few times. The image, as I have mentioned, is to get the gills and rhinopores. And they should be distinguishable. That’s the hard part. It’s not an anatomy dissection. Divers are supposed to respect the wildlife and not disturb them. Some people break the rules often. I try to be good to the reef. It’s not always easy. Anyway, I got an image – without playing with the wildlife – and it shows the horns (rhinopores) and the gills. Nice going. (Pat on the back) … and no messing with the wildlife (my kids would be so proud).


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