It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Belize, Day 3

Dive 1: Esmerelda

We returned to this site because the first time, Rob was shooting macro and Teresa had some camera problems. So we all wanted to return. There were plenty of nurse sharks here again, and also a lot of big grouper. We hung out in the shallows for the first 15 minutes or so checking them out and taking pictures. Then we headed to the dropoff and swam across a couple of the coral fingers. Rob found two eels in pretty quick succession. The first was on one of the little “walls” formed by the coral fingers, and I think it was a goldentail moray. It kept popping its head out and then pulling it in. It reminded me of Pepper protecting her tunnel. After we were finished watching it, we headed up to the top of the dropoff and Rob found a green moray in a hole. His head wasn’t sticking out when I got to it, but I could see its body in the hole. When we got back to the shallows, the nurse sharks and groupers were still around, and Rob found one grouper that was particularly into having his picture taken. Rob was taking pictures of him forever, and I found a little arrow crab and one of those curly cue anemones to entertain me. Right before we ascended, I saw a spotted eagle ray coming towards us. It came around us and basically swam a big square-shaped U around us, stopping at each corner. So we got to watch it for a while before it took off. It had an entourage of cleaner fish with it.

Dive 2: Double Buoy

When I jumped in the water and looked down, I saw three nurse sharks laying in the sand in one spot, and two laying in the sand a little further away. And lots of yellowtail snapper closer to the surface. We again hung out with the nurse sharks for a while, then headed to the dropoff. Right before we got to the dropoff, Israel pointed out a lettuce sea slug to us. It was more colorful than others that I have seen before, with red and blue on its lettuce edges. It also blended in way better than any that I have seen before. We also saw a green moray, which was pretty far out of his hole. As soon as Rob swam over, he popped out even more to check out Rob’s camera (or more likely, his reflection in the dome port). It was really cute, he seemed really curious about the camera.

Dive 3: Double Buoy at Night

We were going to do a night dive at Taffy, where Peter said there was a “decent” chance of seeing some big sharks. But we ended up at Double Buoy (just by accident) but decided to just stay there anyway. Peter admitted that he didn’t know the site that well, but we were not that concerned, since the reef is pretty easy to navigate. Peter was diving with another local diver, named Abiner I think. So we headed down, and pretty soon after, Rob found a nice little octopus sitting out on a rock. After a minute of harassment from Rob, it scurried into a hole, turning bright red right before it disappeared. I had actually completely forgotten about the potential for seeing octopus on the night dive. I was kind of disappointed by how few shrimp I had seen overall on our previous dives. In fact, I don’t know if I had seen any. No coral banded shrimp, that’s for sure. But there were tons of shrimp out at night. I saw their beady little eyes as they skittered across the reef, just like the Breakwater at night. Then I found a nice big coral-banded, and Rob later found a smaller one. I also saw some red and white shrimp which I think were peppermint shrimp – it was much more tail and body and much less legs than coral-banded. I also found this ridiculous looking snail in one of the little walls. It had this huge foot that was like 8 or so inches long, with a not too huge shell. It was really creepy looking – if I found it in my garden, I would be afraid to go outside again. Sadly,Ii have not managed to ID it. We also saw a bunch of lobsters peeking out of their holes, and several were quite small. Speaking of babies, I saw a ton of small fish which I believe were juvenile squirrelfish. They were so cute – squirrelfish have babyface to begin with, but the babies were extra cute. There were also a lot of sleeping parrotfish. It is so cute how they just lay against the reef when they are sleeping.

My one goal for the night dive was to find a basket star. We saw two basket stars on one night dive in the Bahamas, so I was hoping for more. I was looking at every gorgonian that we passed, inspecting it for basket stars. I had almost given up, when finally I found a very small one, mostly curled up. It was feeding on some of the little worms that were ubiquitous in the water column. Kind of gross. I was very excited by this find. We eventually continued on, and Abiner found a nice big octopus sitting in the sand. We must have watched it for 10 or 15 minutes, as it scurried over the sand and puffed out as it tried to attack things. Rob and I each tried to get it to crawl on our hands, and we were rebuffed and it instead used its suckers to “attack” our hands. It felt pretty neat. Rob pointed out a flamingo tongue to me. We had discussed earlier how we were surprised to find not one flamingo tongue (they were all over the place in the Bahamas). After he found that first one, we found several more. I don’t know if they come out at night, or if I just saw them because I was searching for basket stars. Rob also found a slender filefish in a gorgonian. That was a nice find, it really blended in well. Rob also claimed to see a baby squid, but when he moved his light off of it to signal me, he lost site of it :)

After the night dive (which was over pretty early, nice thing about it getting dark so early), we headed down to BC’s, a bar on the edge of downtown, where we had a liquid dinner (and nachos), since we’d had a late afternoon snack.

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