It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fiji Day 2: Turtle Turtle

We arrived at the boat a little early since we had not left our gear with the shop, and after dealing with some not-quite-full-tank shenanigans, we finally got going, and headed to a local site called "Purple Gardens".  This site had several pinnacles near each other with lots of purple soft corals (and some pinks, whites, and yellows too).  I really liked this site. The only problem with it was that there were too many dang divers around :)  Our strategy was to get in the water first, scope out and get some pics of the area near the downline, then let the throngs of divers go by, take some more pictures on that pinnacle, and then when they came back, we moved along to the next pinnacle.  There were apparently some swimthroughs too, which we didn't see, because we weren't following a DM.  Depending on where we were on the pinnacles, the soft corals varied from completely open to not quite as open.  But the vast majority of them were completely open while we were there.

In addition to the soft corals, there were some HUGE sea fans.  And near the end of the dive, a turtle swooped by.  I looked around thinking there must be some other divers around to show it to (other than Rob), but no, it was just us.  So of course I had to chase it with my hero cam... that's why they invented those things, right?  I was obviously pretty excited, but Rob was kind of "whatever".

For the next dive we went to Turtle Alley.  I guess there is an area that is supposed to be good for turtle sightings.  But I thought the dive was pretty freakin' cool regardless of turtleness.  It was a wall from like 20' to infinity (well as far as I could see).  There were allegedly some swim-throughs too, but we just stuck to the outside of the wall for the most part.  It had just generally nice coral.  A DM pointed out a nudi to us, which was white with some black lines and bumps on its back (a Phyllidiella pustulosa, I believe).  I also saw a big freakin' wrasse cruising the wall below us, which I thought was a Napoleon wrasse, but it wasn't as huge as the pictures I have seen, so I wasn't sure.  I later found out that these fish were humphead wrasses, and then still later found out that that's actually the same thing as a Napoleon wrasse (hey, I'll freely admit I am a fish moron).    I think that the turtles were supposed to be near the far part of the dive, but we didn't see any there.  When we got back near the boat, we came up into the shallows, where we saw a school (!) of parrotfish zipping around. I had some fun trying to keep up with them with the hero cam.  Right near the end of the dive, I saw a turtle meander by.  I don't think anyone else besides Rob and I saw it (or any other turtles on the dive).

On the way back to the dock, Rob sweet talked Janine about taking us out for a dive in the small boat in the afternoon; and Janine in turn sweet-talked Colin, so he told us to come back around 3 to go out.  We headed to lunch and killed a bit of time before returning, with Sergio and Bruce.  We headed back to Purple Gardens, since we liked it the first time, and it was close.  We went out in the small boat, which involves a back roll in.  Rob went in first, and his mask flew off of his face, and was lost to the ocean.  Doh!  Luckily Rob is a dork, and carries a backup mask on all dives, so he whipped that out and was good to go.  The soft corals were more closed in some areas, I guess because the current had died down.  The new things that we saw this time included a pair of triggerfish doing a dance, I suppose some sort of territorial thing.  We watched that for quite a while because, well, it was freakin' cool.  I also found about a dozen nudibranchs that were cream with purple lining (Chromodoris lochi).

When we surfaced, we started to remove our rigs, since that was the protocol.  While I was dealing with that, I heard some exclamations behind me, and turned to see Rob and Sergio looking down at "something" that had fallen off of Rob's rig.  Turns out when he jacked up his wing, it pushed on his light canister, which popped the buckle in front of it (it was a crappy plastic buckle).  So then the canister slid off of the strap and since it had an EO cord, the cord disconnected and the canister plummeted to the bottom of the ocean.  Doh!  Colin reported that the last time someone dropped something off the back of the boat at this site, he he went to retrieve it and the bottom was 210 feet.  Doh!  Rob had the plastic buckle because he was using a backplate that he normally just keeps around for students to borrow, and he couldn't find a normal buckle when he as provisioning it -- that was an expensive mistake! So don't use a plastic buckle to hold your can light on.

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