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Me diving

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fiji 2016: Nai'a Day 2: Bligh Waters

We motored most of the night -- in very comfortable seas -- and we woke up somewhere in the Bligh waters between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. We had some toast and fruit and juice (cereal was available too) before the first dive. At 7:30, we met for the briefing.  For the morning dives, we would dive two nearby sites with one skiff going to each site for each. So we got a briefing for both sites (Cat's Meow and Vatu Vonu).

We went to Cat's Meow first.  It was a fairly large around pinnacle going from about 20' to 70'.  On one side of the pinnacle, there was a bigger reef structure across a small sand channel. But we stayed on the pinnacle the whole dive. There was a bit of current, but it was not too bad. I would describe it as "moderate". We started on the bottom and followed the herd around for a bit, maybe about a quarter of the way around the pinnacle, but eventually we realized that things were much more interesting up shallower. We found that on one end of the pinnacle, there was all sorts of sea fans, soft corals, etc. growing out of the side of the wall, and zillions of colorful fish, including tons of orange and magenta anthias.  The shallower we went, the more fish there were swarming around us. Eventually, I just went up to the top and hung out with the swarms of fish, while Rob took pictures on the side. Up there I saw a bunch of anemones with clownfish snuggling up in them. One other notable find from this dive was that Josh found a "Pygmy sea horse" (though not the same kind of Pygmy sea horse that I'm familiar with. This one was dark red and lived on hydroids) on a little coral patch on the bottom, just off of the pinnacle. 

When we returned, we had real breakfast. I had a waffle with a pineapple and mint topping and Rob had a spinach and tomato omelette that was served with bacon. There were also some very tasty apple muffins and fruit. After breakfast, there was an "environmental presentation" that was about creatures that are out during night dives. 

After a short break, we gathered for the next dive. We went to Vatu Vonu, which is also a pretty wide pinnacle, which goes from about 15' to 50'. Rob was shooting macro, so I spent the dive looking for nudibranchs and such, with some success. Josh found some pretty nice nudis for us. One of them was inside a pretty tight swim through that we were warned not to try to swim through during the briefing, teehee. We also saw two turtles (the name of the site means something about turtles in Fijian).  When we got to the top near the end of the dive, we found some more snuggly fish. I also noticed that on one side of the pinnacle near the top, there were soft corals of all different colors, but they were all curled up asleep. It would be interesting to see this site when the current is blowing. 

We had lunch when we got back (are you noticing a pattern?). I had chicken curry and Rob had beef stir fry.  We had over an hour before the next dive, so I took a nap.  I'm not sure if that was a good idea though, since I was quite groggy when I woke up. We had the dive briefing where we found out that once again the two skiff's would swap sites between this dive and the night dive. We were diving undeNAI'Able wall (and would dive undeNAI'Able pinnacle for the night dive).

Okenia japonica!
The wall was pretty interesting, with a bunch of "crevices" which were a bit large to call crevices.  One of the crevices leads into a little enclosed "lagoon". In the crevice leading up to that, the walls were insanely colorfully encrusted with sponge and coral. But it wasn't coral formations, but mostly flat walls with super colorful patches of all different colors. Reminded me of the middle reef at Point Lobos.  Past that crevice, I thought that the dive got much better... The wall had way more interesting coral formations on it and was just overall more attractive. We also found some cool nudibranchs along that patch. After the dive I suggested that the dive should have started at that crevice :)

We had some snacks and a break (to work on the blog) after that dive.  We were supposed to get together for the night dive at 6, though I think everyone was very eager so we got started a little early.  We went to the pinnacle, as planned, but for some reason the other skiff did not go to the wall as planned (they went to some other site). We had a few false starts getting into the water (gas leaking from the DIN fitting on someone's tank, then an outbreak of tanks slipping out of cam bands) but we finally got in after having to reposition the boat 3 times. It was an awesome dive. We saw all kinds of cool critters... Lots of nudis, and lots of weird crabs and shrimps. Joshua found lots of stuff, though Rob and I did a reasonable job too.  I didn think I'd be up for an hour plus dive, since I was quite cold before the dive, but we were having so much fun, I didn't notice the chill until the very end. 

We had dinner pretty much right after we got back. Squash and ginger soup, chicken stuffed with goat cheese and tomatoes, and chocolate mousse. After dinner, I really wanted to go straight to bed, but Rob twisted my arm to stay up long enough to finish this post :)

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