Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Found Nemo! (And Much, Much More!)

Em was kind enough to let me go out alone on my SCUBA trip. We had talked of going to one of the pontoons and taking turns, me SCUBA, her snorkle, me SCUBA, her...
But the day before she decided she'd lounge and browse around Cairns. (Speaking of browsers...did you know the Internet browser "Firefox" is named after a real animal--the firefox or Red Panda?!? It is now my favorite animal!!!!)

Anyway, after much research and going back and forth between dive tours/company's I took the advice from the life guard on Green Island and went with Silverswift. They do 3 dives. I was only planning to do 2 but it was only $12 more to add the third and I was feeling good after the 2nd dive. All the companies have different reefs and many different sites at each reef to choose from, depending on conditions.

We did one dive at Milln Reef, Fish Town site and then went to Flynn Reef and dove at Gordon’s Mooring and Tracy's. The first dive was a little tough as I had a large underwater camera with me. I hadn't been diving since 2004 but everything came back to me right away, including the difficulty keeping a neutral buoyancy. To do this you have to put in the right amount of air into your buoyancy control device or BC.  I kept putting too much in and then taking too much out, plus the deeper you go the more the air compresses giving you less buoyancy. This wasted too much air and cut my first dive a little short. This combined with one hand trying to not let go of the expensive camera I hired (rented) gave me some added awkwardness.

*Insert: It is not easy taking underwater photos. The fish don't tend to hold still, even the lumbering sea turtles drift away at a pace making it hard to photograph. Then when you do have a subject that doesn't leave, like Nemo, he darts around and as I try to take the picture I begin to either sink or rise (remember the buoyancy problem). As if that isn't hard enough, I was constantly trying not to land on, bump into, or disturb the fragile coral.

On to the dives:

The first one was cool just to be under the water again. I don't remember this one as well as I was focused on remembering how to dive and what not.  There had been a recent HUGE cyclone that had come through the area and destroyed a lot of the hard coral. I remember seeing tons of staghorn coral broken off and littering the sea floor.

Kinda sad. It was still amazing though. The first dive's highlight was the blue spotted sting ray. I saw a white and black stick and wondered what it was.
I then followed its to 2 bumps and then saw the outline of ray just under the sand. Totally awesome, one of the things I really wanted to see  (the others being Nemo (clown fish) and a shark, never found a shark =(.) The first dive was quickly over (fastest 33 minutes ever!) Who knew 200 bar could go so quickly?

The second dive started off great with an immediate sighting of a green sea turtle. Then we found Nemo, or at least his one stripped cousin. (I did see the real Nemo variety while snorkeling on Tuesday).

This dive went much better for me, I was much more graceful with my camera and buoyancy and extended my dive by 4 minutes.
I loved seeing the pink anemone fish (Nemo).  The photography guy said it is a cliche' for a professional to photograph them, but they all do and just don't talk about it.
They are so pretty and are set against a beautiful back ground. I found a "field" of this anemone and thought it was beautiful.
As the dive master was about to take us one way I spotted another turtle hiding down in some rocks and swam over to visit.
He soon noticed me and began his slow and effortless withdrawal. All the other divers then came over to see him too. This one is a hawksbill sea turtle. Very pretty and very large. About 3x the size of the green sea turtle.

Another cool thing about this dive was the coral "swim-throughs". One was a tube we swam through and another a pretty canyon. This maori wrasse swam through with me, he's about half my size. It was so cool to look up and see the surface through these coral walls.

The third dive got even better. There seemed to be a lot more fish and the coral was even prettier here. One of the best parts was the unbelievable landscape. This area had a lot of pretty corals and colorful fish. We saw some more turtles and another Nemo cousin residence. Our goal on this dive was to find a reef shark but we never did. Bummer but still probably my favorite dive. This site also had a lot of these giant boulder corals. These stand alone from the rest of the coral shelves and are massive--20 feet with corals domes. They take about a hundred years to form. Other coral varieties were growing on them too.
 After my last dive I went back out with my snorkel and explored some more. I'm glad I did because I realized how much better SCUBA was, it was easier to swim under the water instead of on top, I got more salt water in my mouth with the snorkel and it is awesome to be able to just stay below the water.

Here are some of my other favorite pictures:

(Another of my favorites sights were these pretty which hard coral bushes. They had about a hundred tiny blue fish and sometimes some larger black and white stripped ones which would swim out like a cloud and then dart back in, over and over. They proved very difficult to photograph though.

One that I was very excited to see (this one is small but I saw some huge ones too) was the brain coral, such a cool pattern! 

It was a great day of diving! 

1 comment:

Sheba said...

Thanks for posting those! That's so amazing! What are the chances I can EVER do something like that? What beautiful pics. You are so adventurous. I'm so glad you have another amazing experience to add to your life's collection.