It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Australia: Ribbon Reefs 9 and 10

We finally managed to do some really good diving today.  We also managed to get a day with a normal schedule.  We had "first breakfast" at 6:30 (cereal, milk, yogurt, and fruit), then did the first dive at Pixie Wall.  This was a wall, though it wasn't that tall.  The best parts are definitely from about 60' up, but since the boat had their wonky rules about reverse profiles, we had to really try to find a patch of coral in the sand to look at below 80' at some point during the dive :)  This was the least awesome dive of the day, so I won't say much about it.  There were some really nice sea fans hanging off of the wall, and I found one cool little hole in the wall that Rob swam behind to take shots looking out.  Rob also found this cool arch-shaped tunnel in the wall that if you swam into opened into a room that was open above.  

The second dive was at Pixie Pinnacle, and it was my favorite dive of the trip yet (though not my favorite dive of the day :P).  This was a skinny pinnacle going from about 20' (or maybe a bit shallower) to 100'.  There was a decent amount of current.  We dropped onto the side of the pinnacle, and Rob swam us up-current to try to get to a little side pinnacle in the sand.  I was huffing and puffing off of the pinnacle at 90' and realized it was probably 20 feet below us, and refused to go any further :)  The really cool thing about it was all of the pelagic life swarming around the pinnacle.  There were schools of barracuda, jacks, and trevally, plus lots of smaller (unnamed to me) fish in their own little schools.  On one side of the pinnacle, there was a little shelf at maybe 30 feet, and we hung out there for quite a while, and it was great fun to watch all of the various kinds of fish just swirling around us.  I also got buzzed by a Napoleon wrasse.  The top of the pinnacle was also nicely covered with corals (soft and hard), Nemos, and crinoids (my favorite).  One of the DMs (Nick I think) showed us some little pipefish that he found, though unfortunately Rob was shooting wide-angle.  Since the best part of the dive was in the shallows, we had a nice long dive here, watching all of the fish swirling around.

Lunch was "curry day" with a super tasty beef curry, tandoori chicken, rice, flatbread, raita, and some other stuff for people who don't believe in curry before diving (which normally I don't, but it just smelled so dang good!).  After lunch, we dove Cod hole, which is a pretty well-known site where you get to play with the puppy dogs, err, potato cod.  It was actually a feeding, which I didn't expect, though I suppose it should not have been too surprising.  There was a briefing and we were told a couple things.  One, don't flail around, because the cod are being fed by hand and might mistake your flailing arms as a food source.  Two, we were supposed to get negative and plant ourselves in the sand during the feeding, because otherwise there was no way we could stay still without flailing :)  Three, don't pet the cod, they are not actually puppy dogs.  One and three I could get behind, but I was a tad skeptical about two.  

We made the mistake of being the first in the water, so we had to mill about while we waited for everyone else.  We did see one cod before the feeding began.  When the DM running the feeding showed up, everyone got into a semi-circle, and everyone except Rob and I planted on the bottom.  Rob was instructed to get on his knees on the bottom and he politely declined, hehe.  I went into slightly bad trim as if I was going to get on my knees and then when the DM looked away I resumed my usual slightly less bad trim off of the bottom.  Breakin' the law, breakin' the law.  If there had actually been current that made it hard to stay in place without excessive finning, I would have been on board with planting myself on the bottom, but there was not, so I was opposed on principle.

Not too surprisingly, the feed was very chaotic and not really a good chance to get photo or video of the fish.  There were just way too many divers flailing around everywhere.  But once it was finished, the divers pretty much dispersed and we stayed behind, along with a couple of the fish, who were quite the camera whores.  We both got some good shots/footages of the fish, and it turned out what we took during the feed was a total waste!  By the time the fish had lost interest in us, it was pretty much time to end the dive, so we did.  There was reef to look at there, but we just didn't get to it.

After a snack of brownies and cookies, we did the final dive of the day at Dynamite Pass.  This was my favorite dive of the day (and the trip so far).  It was a wall, and it was just very pretty.  There was tons of soft coral (though in much more muted tones than the soft corals in Fiji), and there was a lot of really colorful hard coral.  Being from the land of the hydrocoral, I find most warm water hard corals to be quite blah, color-wise.  This was the first time I saw really colorful hard corals.  The colors were still more muted tones than, say, hydrocoral, but they were pretty bright blues, mint greens, golden yellows, etc.  It was just a super pretty wall, and the ride back in the (minor) current was especially nice.  We also saw a school of bump head wrasses off of the wall, which was pretty cool to see such big fish schooling!  We also saw a couple of sharks on this dive; one was off of the reef and the other was swimming right up through one of the little "bays" that the wall wrapped around.

For dinner that night, we had a "BBQ" with lots of barbecued meats, including some kangaroo, which of course I had to try.  Rob was very happy about the copious quantities of meat, but there were a bunch of salads to go along with it too.  For dessert, we had what I would describe as chocolate cheesecake balls dipped in chocolate.  There was a name for them, which was a term that I was not familiar with.  It was the last night of the trip for everyone else on the boat, so there was a more "festive" atmosphere that night, with people staying up late, drinking, etc.

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