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Me diving

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Philippines 2012: Day 6: Macro Day!

For the last day, we were on the boat with Richard again, and everyone agreed it should be all macro.  We had to see all of the cool things left to see in one day!  For the first dive, we went to a site called Boulders, which was very close to where we did the first dive of the trip – to the right, around the corner.  It was similar in that it was a sloping reef which gave way to sand around 80 to 90 feet.  The first goal of the dive was to find an ornate ghost pipefish, which was known to hang out there.  And we did indeed find it.  I thought it was one of the coolest critters I’ve ever seen.  For some strange reason, Rob just wasn’t that into it.  I just don’t get it!  I watched it for quite a while, while Rob looked around for other subjects.  At the bottom of the slope (on the sand), we found all kinds of critters, including a couple of cuttlefish.  We also found a whole bunch of new-to-us slugs on this dive.

After that, we went to Coral Cove, which was actually the site where we did our first dive of the week.  The name of the game was, once again, looking for slugs, and we were not disappointed.  We found some really cool-looking ones – probably my favorite of the dive was the Cadlinella ornatissima.  Pink tips, I can’t help loving it!  Richard also found some pygmy seahorses for us (he studied pygmy seahorses for his PhD… good to have along on a dive!).  I believe it was also on this dive that we saw the mushroom pipe eel, which is just a strange little creature, which we had been briefed we would probably see.

After lunch, we went to Ship Wreck, another muck dive over in the bay.  It was an awesome dive.  The only unfortunate thing about this dive was that the viz was really bad.  It didn’t seem that bad, because it was fairly bright, but it was just so foggy.  We lost the other team less than 10 minutes into the dive.  In the course of trying to swim around and find them, I nearly lost Rob, who was only like 10 feet away from me.  Yea, pretty bad viz.  But who needs viz on a muck dive!?!  We found tons of cool critters, including some great slugs.  I found a Ceratasoma tenue, which is a pretty big slug, and it’s so colorful!  It reminds me of the circus; weird, perhaps, but that’s just what pops into my mind every time I look at the picture!  I also found a filefish, which I always love.  Rob thought it was a real yawn, and I had to twist his arm not once, not twice, but thrice, to first, take a picture of it, second, process the photo after the dive, and third, upload the photo to the gallery of the trip.  We also saw this really strange little fish, the ultimate muppet fish, which looked (to me) like a cross between a rock and a grunt sculpin.  Still not sure what he is.

For the fourth dive, we went back to La Laguna, which we had already been to at night.  Rob was having some problems with his camera on this dive.  His strobes both “died” but then mysteriously came back to life after a while.  So pretty obviously user error :P  We found a couple more nice slugs on this dive, and a blue hairy squat lobster (which I had seen pictures of and SO wanted to see one!).  Rob actually managed to get a very respectable picture of this guy without a strobe.  We also saw a juvenile corys, which was a cute little fishy, who was quite wiggly (but nothing like a juvenile sweetlips!).

For our last dive (sniff sniff), we were going slug hunting with Rusty.  He had a couple in mind that he wanted to find for us.  And he didn’t disappoint.  He found two really cool ones: Phyllodesmium jakobsenae (we thing) and the other one we haven’t ID’d yet.  He also found us a Risbecia tryoni, which I don’t think we’d seen yet.  The Phyllodesmium is so well-camouflaged in the soft coral that it lives on.  It’s crazy!  After the very short ride back to the resort, we sadly rinsed our gear.

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