It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fiji Day 6: The Elusive Hammerhead

Our trip included the first five days of diving, but there were a few of us that were not too excited about spending the last day not diving.  So we put a boat together for the last day, but there were only like 7 or 8 people on it.  I think this was a way more reasonable number of people to have on the boat (the Bligh Explorer).  The original idea was to go dive some "other sites" that they don't typically dive, just to check them out.  We'd already been to all of the best local sites, some of them multiple times, so we were happy to do something new.  But on the way out, we stopped at Purple Gardens, because Colin really really wanted to try to retrieve Rob's lost canister (actually it was my lost canister, but it was the one that Rob lost).  We told him like a million times that we really didn't want him doing a deep air dive on a single tank on our account, but he didn't listen.  So in he went, for a bounce to the bottom.  He returned about 10 minutes later, having retrieved the canister, the weight that Rob had stashed behind the canister on his waist strap, and Rob's lost mask.  Not bad :)  Rob wanted to know where the plastic buckle was ;)  He also reported that the bottom was "only" 160-some feet, not the 210' that we expected.

Purple Gardens is pretty close to Dreamscape, and after we pulled anchor there, the DMs noted that the currents looked favorable to see hammerheads.  So we had a last minute change of heart and decided to make one last attempt.  Our hope was that with fewer people in the water, we may be less likely to scare the sharks away.  Rob was, once again, shooting macro, so we also thought that would help our odds of seeing sharks :P  We headed out into the blue, not really seeing much for a while, and just when we had sort of given up, we saw exactly one hammerhead.  Woohoo!  It swam by us, close enough to get a good look.  Then it swam off.  A minute or two later, there was another sighting, presumably of the same shark (but who knows).  Well, now I have officially seen a hammerhead :)  We eventually made it back to the reef where we spent the rest of the dive looking for nudibranchs and such.  Someone (a DM I think) found a scorpionfish really close to the anchor line, which was pretty neat.  I guess Rob didn't get a publish-able shot though.

For the second dive, we went back to Turtle Alley, sort of.  Apparently if you go one direction from the anchorage, it is Turtle Alley, and if you go the other way, there is another site (I think with some swim-throughs).  Since Rob was shooting macro, Colin really wanted him to see the juvenile rock-mover wrasse that is a resident near Turtle Alley (which we didn't see on our previous dive).  So he convinced Rob to "follow the DM" for the first few minutes of the dive, so he could show him that, and then we could do our thing.  I'm glad that Colin insisted, because that is one cute little fish!  We hung out with him for probably like 10 minutes, watching him dance around.  From there, we headed out along the wall, in the Turtle Alley direction, just moving along slowly looking for critters.  We found some more of the same kinds of slugs we'd seen on previous dives, plus Rob found a *really* tiny slug that wasn't in their ID book.  Rob didn't think the picture was too great, but I convinced him to post it, since I thought it was such a great find!

One of the waterfalls by the spa
In the afternoon, I went to the Rainforest Spa to get wrapped in a banana leaf.  This may come as a surprise, but I'm not exactly a big spa person, but everyone was talking about the banana leaf treatment.  Even Kevin Barry was raving about it!  So I figured if people as diverse as Kevin Barry and many of the middle-aged ladies on the trip liked it, well I should give it a try.  Heading up to the spa (which is up the hill in the "rainforest"... they drive you up there in a little van) was a good chance to see the rest of the resort grounds, since I'd mostly just been walking from our bungalow to the boat dock all week.  There are a lot of nice flowering trees and shrubs (which I guess they get the flowers for around the resort from) and many fruit trees (where they get the fruits that they serve).  On the way up, we stopped by the stream where there were some guys tending to the food buried in the earth that we would be eating for dinner that night.  The lady who would be doing my treatment (who was riding up to the spa with me) hopped out of the van and collected some big banana leaves from those guys, who had apparently been tasked with picking some big banana leaves for the spa.

Getting wrapped in a banana leaf was pretty fun, and I smelled like a coconut afterward.  Here I am, all wrapped up.

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