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Me diving

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Taveuni, Fiji: Day 3

I started with an interesting breakfast wrap that consisted of scrambled eggs wrapped in a roti with tomato chutney and cheese on top, with a side of sautéed veggies. It was quite tasty, though the chutney was a little heavily spiced for a pre-dive meal :P

The big boat was back in commission and so we did a 3-dive trip to Rainbow Reef. The conditions were much better today, but we were cruising over there pretty slowly, so I'm not sure the trip was any faster. But it was a very nice day to be on the boat, and the bigger boat is really stable. For the first dive, we went to a site whose name I don't recall, which featured *huge* sea fans. That's not how the dive site was advertised, necessarily, but that was the highlight of it for me. There was a wall, which was quite vertical in some parts, and at some point, big sea fans started to appear, going all the way down to 150 feet or so. There were also some big spindly-looking gorgonian-type creatures at the bottom in a slightly shallower area. The site had nice hard corals as well, and the occasional soft coral. I also saw a white tip reef shark cruising the wall at some point.

Another highlight of the dive were the (other) purple aeolids that I love. At some point, Soni showed us 3 in a patch of hydroids. This was super useful because I had been looking at every hydroid I came across for this slug, but they live on a particular hydroid, so now I know where to find them. After Soni showed those to us, I found a few more not too far away, and then later in the dive, Rob found a big patch of those hydroids and 3 very big slugs on them.

After a surface interval (and cinnamon rolls), we got back in at Purple Wall. The name of this site seemed familiar, so it's possible that we've been there before, though I didn't really remember it once I did the dive. Anyway, as you might guess from the name, this site has a wall with lots of purple soft corals. But there are also tons and tons of purple sea fans and gorgonians. The soft corals were not really open, because there wasn't that much current, but the wall was still quite purple in the early sections. The purple fans and gorgonians are a really pretty shade of purple! Later in the dive, when we were beyond the purple zone, Rob made a really good find of a slug on a small black sea fan. It was some kind of aeolid that I don't think I've ever seen before, and there were two egg masses on the fan. The egg masses were light purple

After that dive, we had lunch (sandwiches) on the boat, anchored in a cove near a beach. We got back in the water and snorkeled a bit and Rob worked on getting some over/under shots. We swam over to really close to the beach, and I was really impressed by the hard corals that you could see from snorkeling. There were a bunch of different kinds of coral, and they were in good shape.

For the third dive, we went to Rainbow's End, which is a site I am sure I have been to at least once, and that I really liked in the past. It was a drift dive, and I guess we didn't drop in exactly the right place, so in the beginning there was a bit of fighting the current. I don't think we were exactly swimming up-current, but sort of at an angle to the current, which still made it quite a pain. But eventually we got to a point where we were riding the current for nearly all of the rest of the dive. It was a pretty wild ride. There were *so many* fish all throughout this dive. Zillions of little colorful tropical fish all over the place as we zoomed along the reef, passing little outcroppings with lush soft corals of a variety of colors. It was a great dive.

Eventually we came up and over the reef to the other side, and when we got to the top, the current kind of shot us across this wide swath of staghorn(-ish) coral with tons of anthias on top. I wish I had known this is what the current was going to do, so I could have video'd the ride :). We somehow got separated from the group on the ascent (in the 1 minute it took to go from 30 feet to 20 feet... still a mystery how that happened), and so Rob shot a bag. That may have been the highlight of the dive for him ;)

The ride back was very slow, not because of weather or anything, the boat was just going slowly. Rob and I laid on the bow for a while, which is a very nice place to ride on that boat, but eventually I decided it was too sunny and I would probably get sunburned if we stayed out there, so we retreated to the shade on the back of the boat.

We got back around 4, and after a bit of loafing around, and taking our 2 day post-arrival covid test, and a bit more loafing, we then did a dusk/night dive on the house reef. We got in around 6:15 (sunset was at 6:30). We didn't see too many particularly notable things, but it was a solidly entertaining night dive. We saw a couple of scorpion fish, a ton of lion fish, a couple of boring slugs (bumpy dorids), a tiny octopus, and the biggest starfish we have ever seen, by a huge huge margin. It was probably 2 to 3 feet tip to tip, and it was one of those "pencil" type starfish and each arm was huge around! I saw a lobster but it scurried back into its hole before Rob could see it. Rob had a similar eel encounter (I didn't see the eel). Anyway, a fun night dive overall.

It was actually kind of cold when we got out! I wore the one long sleeve shirt that I brought over my t-shirt when we went to dinner. For dinner, I had coconut crusted plantains to start (Rob had coconut fish soup), and we both had the coconut (I think?) crusted fish entree, which was really tasty. Dessert was sorbet, which was kind of strange, but came with fruit, which I liked.

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