It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 17, 2011

North Side of K2

On Saturday we were on the BAUE tech boat, for my birthday dive-proper.  Rob and I were diving with Susan, because Beto had sustained a birthday-cake-related illness the night before :(  Rob had been scheming to go to back to Mount Chamberlain to look for the octopus we had seen on the south wall annex.  Conditions on the ride down were a little rocky but nothing too bad.  It was pretty similar to the day before -- a little worse than I was expecting based on the forecast.  We ended up at K2.  I told Rob that I didn't feel like going all the way over there from K2, since we would end up scootering out and back practically all of the dive.  So I suggested we head north instead, since I love the north side of K2.  I told Rob to take us to the super skinny canyon that we went to once before (my birthday -- no way I was leading!).

Viz was pretty good, just like the day before.  It wasn't as dark as the day before, but I guess that's probably because of a combination of not being as deep and it was also sunnier on the surface.  We dropped on the west side of K2, which seemed odd since, for whatever reason, it seems like we always drop on the east side. We popped over the top and headed north along the east side.  As we scootered along the that sand channel to the east, the viz was nice!  Eventually we curved around the north side a bit and then hopped across the sand to some of the structures to the north.  I think that we did two things a bit differently than usual -- first, we were deeper as we scootered along the main pinnacle, so we didn't have the same viewpoint of the outlying structures; second, we curved a bit further around the north side (so more to the west than the east) than we usually do.  As a result, we ended up in an area that I don't know if I've been to before.  Maybe once, with Rob's ITC buddy, Peter.  Anyhoo, as we explored these structures, we saw some canary rockfish, like we always see up there.  

As we were slaloming along through the little canyons and such, I was thinking how we always see basket stars around here.  And then Rob signaled me, and pointed out a basket star!  We looked at it briefly, and he seemed not terribly interested in taking pictures, and continued along.  Then a minute later, I saw another basket star.  I pointed it out to Rob, and asked if he wanted to take pictures.  I think he wanted to, but he always feels some subconscious pressure to not stop the team to take pictures when we are diving with others (well maybe others than Kevin).  So he stopped and took some pictures.  The little guy wouldn't unfurl for us though :(  Once we he was finished, we started to go, and I saw a fish, I think it was a canary, swim into a little nook under a boulder.  I followed it with my light, to see if there were other fish and there, and saw something weird.  There were these big white round things.  They were on a field of pink.  I was staring at it and staring at it, trying to figure out what I was looking at, and then I practically squealed through my regulator when I realized it was a HUGE GPO.  An HPO I guess :P  Or its legs anyway.  I signaled the team (I thought it was a pretty reserved GPO signal, because I didn't want to spook him into retracting further into his den, but Susan said she knew right away it was a "GPO signal" :P) and then swam a little closer to get a good look.  It's definitely the biggest GPO I've seen.  And that spot was the perfect GPO nook!  I looked around to see if there were any shells outside of it, and didn't see any.  But Rob said he saw some next to a side entrance.  While Susan and Rob were checking it out, I was looking around for something to feed it, but the only thing I could find was a crab.  While the little devil on my shoulder was certainly telling me to break it in half to try to lure the octopus out, there was no way I could do that.

After we finished with the octopus, we soon turned around and headed back to K2.  We were scootering back along the east side, and I was a bit off of the bottom because, well, I'm not a deep freak like some of my dive buddies.  Rob stopped (below me) to check out a crack in the rock.  There was a crack, maybe 15  feet from the bottom (which was chock full of rockfish, by the way), and a little cavern at the bottom.  Of course Rob had to check out the cavern.  I guess he got partway in and decided he couldn't make it through.  He signaled for us to come take a look, and I descended down to him, accidentally plummeted into the sand on the bottom (oops) and after recovering from that, I looked into the cavern and saw that it connected to the crack above.  I also saw that it was a bit stirred up in there, I guess from Rob's bubbles or something.  Then we continued along, coming up shallower on the wall.  I love that wall.  It's very impressive.  I think I may like it better than the south wall.  I was a pretty fishy day on the wall.  I saw a few juvenile yelloweyes, but they were all too shy to have their picture taken.  There were some less skittish fish that tolerated some photos, but I guess those didn't make the cut.  Rob only gave me one picture from the dive -- how sad.

We made it all the way back to the peak, and passed the other two teams right around there.  We had a couple minutes left, so Rob suggested we do a loop around the south side of the peak (after checking the crack for a GPO of course), and then we started our ascent.  I was relieved of the duty of shooting the bag today, phew.  At 50 feet, I looked at Rob and noticed something on his hood.  It looked like a logo in the center of his hood, but I knew there wasn't a logo there.  I swam over to look and saw that it was a tiny brittle star, maybe 1.5 inches in diameter.  And it was just planted on the top of his forehead, right in the center!  I swam over to Susan and told her to look at Rob.  She practically lost her regulator from laughing when she realized what it was.  So we spent the rest of the stop laughing and pointing at Rob.  Poor Rob.  We told him to take a picture of his head with his camera and take a look.  He could only tell that there was something on his head, but not what it was.  I was hoping he'd make it all the way to the surface with the starfish still there, but at 20 or 30 feet, he was gesticulating wildly and it popped off of his head.  I caught it in my hand and showed it to Rob.  I wish we'd gotten a picture of it on his hood!  Deco was otherwise uneventful.  After the dive, there was a general ambivalence about a second dive, so we did a little bit of searching around for whales but couldn't find anything.  So we just headed back to the dock instead.

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