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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Fiji 2019: Day 8 (Namena)

We spent the night at Namena.

Dive 1: The Arch

This site is basically between Grand Central Station and Purple Hill. There’s a moderately sized reef structure with (surprise) an arch in the middle. There’s also a pinnacle that comes out to around 30’. As we dropped down, we checked out the sand by the wall (which had a couple of sharks swimming around plus the schools of barracuda, jacks, and snapper). We spent almost no time at the arch and it’s surrounding structures and headed back to Purple Hill. Unfortunately there wasn’t much current, so most of the soft corals were closed up. So it wasn’t nearly as pretty :(

Eventually I convinced the team to go back and check out the arch. Well convinced is a strong word. After suggesting it and not getting them to go, I swam over there myself and figured they’d eventually realize I was gone and follow me. And they eventually did, though it took disturbingly long. I feel so loved. Back over at the arch, I found a pretty nice overhang with lots of fans and stuff. It was kind of C-shaped (or 2/3 of an E shape) with a flat area and a little parallel flat area hanging over it with just enough room in there to pose a diver. So I showed it to Rob and he got some pictures.

I then headed over to the tall pinnacle to check it out. There wasn’t a ton of interesting life on the reef, but lots of little fish schooling around the top of it. So I just hung out there looking over the edge at the big stuff below, including those two sharks that were still circling in the sand. I hung out there for a while and eventually Clinton showed up and hung out with me. Rob was down on the sand shooting some snapper (I think). When he was finished, he suggested swimming out over the abyss before we started our ascent. We didn’t actually see anything but it was fun trying.

For breakfast we had a choice between banana pancakes and an omelette with potatoes. I just couldn’t decide so I ordered half and half, which was just perfect (and the petite omelette was adorable). Plus we had chocolate croissants. Omg I love those things.

Dive 2: Tetons 1

Clinton was feeling a bit under the weather so he took a nap during this dive (since we knew the third dive was at two thumbs up, he wanted to save his energy). So it was just Rob and me, plus one other diver (Yeng) who dove with Chad. This site was a really tall skinny pinnacle going from like 10’ to 70’. There were some other little pinnacles just off of the bottom in slightly deeper water. But we didn’t really spend anytime on those. We basically just circled around and around. I swear we swam around it like 20 times. There were spots with lots of sea fans and gorgonians and crinoids, though not a lot of soft corals (well not a lot of soft coral soft coral, but a lot of things I might generically call soft corals). And there were tons of anthias along the side of the pinnacle, not just the top. They were blurple with orange along the tops (I can’t quite figure out what they are from the ID book). There was also a grey reef shark at the bottom of the pinnacle occasionally making an appearance.

Overall I’d say this pinnacle was pretty impressive and a fun dive, but not especially photogenic. The top was surprisingly barren. There was a anemone with some clownfish that I tried to video, but it was a total washing machine up there, so that didn’t work. I guess it’s not a very hospitable area for stuff to grow. When we left to ascend, we swam off the pinnacle, since it’s crazy shallow. We found a HUGE barracuda drifting along like 3 feet below the surface on our way up.

Dive 3: Two Thumbs Up

We went back to two thumbs up, and once again we started at the outer pinnacle, went to check out the other one, and then came back. But there was more current this time, so the soft corals were a lot more open for the entire dive. Yay! One other exciting (but undocumented) find on the dive was a Pygmy sea horse, at the bottom of the pinnacle, all out in the open and photogenic. Boohoo. Still wide angle was the right lens for this dive :)

I also found a dark blue/black nembrotha that we hadn’t seen yet on this trip, so I showed that to the boys. Aside from those couple of macro finds, I spent most of the dive either posing for pictures, or hanging out on top of the pinnacles, bobbing around with all of the anthias and clownfish on top :)

Dive 4: Schoolhouse

I wasn’t sure if this dive was worth doing (I was getting cold and tired from all of the diving) but it was a lot of fun. There’s a deep wall, starting at like 70’ or 80’ which you swim along, and there are these coral fingers reaching out from the wall. So you will be swimming along the wall with sand on the top of the wall, and then there will suddenly be a coral structure on top of the wall that will be buzzing with fish, etc. in the sand, we’d see wall creatures like sharks (we saw both greys and whitetips) and schooling jacks, plus lots of those turquoise trigger fish on the wall. Aside from all of the generic reef top fish life, we saw several lion fish, some big sweetlips, and a trumpetfish trying to be BFFs with a grouper, which was hilarious to watch.

For dinner we had chicken with coconut rice and green beans and for dessert we had panda cotta with tropical fruit.

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