14 May 2007

Cant get enough of Mel

Day: Saturday, 12 May 2007 - Day Dive
Crew: Myself, Caroline, Tuon, Wadean, Kimmy (Instructor) and Bala, the Boatman
Dive Site: Mel's Reef @ Little Dale
Viz: V.Good ~15m
Max Depth: ~18m
Dive Time: ~60m & 60m
Caroline's 4 dives away from being a certified advanced diver, tuon would always sneak in a cigarette before a dive and takes the longest to gear up, kimmy stacks the best egg sandwich, wadean is ever so patient and suntans without sunblock, bala is a rescue diver who once aspires to be a divemaster but think he's too old for it now, and me with my camera and obsession with tiny critters. We all had our fingers crossed for good weather.

We were adventurous this morning and decided to try our luck convincing Bala to take us out to Mel's then Brunei Patches on the way back. He's a tough one to budge, using FUEL as a bottleneck. We settled with 2 dives at Mel's but at different descent point. Mel's Reef is the best bet. Visibility has been consistently good there and it never cease to amaze.

.Kimmy and Caroline. Schools of breams and fusiliers. Healthy corals.

Caroline did her navigational skill with Kimmy whilst Toun, Dean and I peeped under boulders hoping to bump into Missy Toitle, peered over vase corals for the occasional coralfish that seeks refuge there and fiddled with featherstars!


Featherstars are gorgeous! They'd make a great coffee table centerpiece. I used to think of them as annoying plants that clings on for dear life to my wetsuit everytime I happened to brush by them. Recently, their beauty is beginning to grow on me. Just like when one starts to learn how to dive, the greatest excitement comes when you see things for the first time.. it is the same with photography, you are constantly seeing and learning things not just for the first time but also with a new perspective. So featherstars a.k.a "flowers of the sea" arent really plants, they're infact animals - related to starfish and sea urchins. They have a 'claw-like' structure that is used to secure them onto seabeds or wetsuits mad. They feed on microscopic food by wafting their "arms" in the water. Similar to that of a starfish, their mouth is located centrally at the base of these arms.

Caryn told me you can find tiny shrimps living amid the featherstars and Tuon too mentioned sometimes you'll find crabs inhabiting the foot of a featherstar, so i took a closer look and indeed it is home to certain shrimps.

.Shrimps inhabiting featherstars.

Our hour was up. We surfaced to 5meters for our 3minutes safety stop (basically to release nitrogen from our body). I looked up to shafts of sunlight piercing through the water's surface, it was glaring, i squinted, exhaled and took a shot. Most people would say "no wayyy" when i tell them the sea is flat, so here's evidence! Hehehe.
It was total silence, no slushing of waves, no chugging of the boat's motor, no howling winds. You cannot imagine the peace in the middle of an open sea. At one point, we all acknowledged it, sat in awe and sap it in.. the next minute it was a debate on whose nasi katok tastes better. Muuhuuhuu. I had two packets of nasi katok, kueh, chikadees, doughnuts, gawd i swear this is bad.

During our surface intervals (also to release nitrogen from our body), Caroline saw dorsal fins on the surface followed by a patch of ripples! "What, what? dolphins?" "Shark ka?" "Whaleshark??" It was a school of batfish! I put on my fins, my mask, grabbed my camera and the rest went "go in slowly" "quietly".. and yes i slipped into the water as lightly as i can manage with a full stomach. It was another 1st for me. 20-30 batfish were swaying along the surface, unfortunately when i finally snapped out of it they've swam too far for me to shoot.

.Scorpionfish that one should never attempt to touch. Tomato anemonefish.

For our 2nd dive, we drove slightly further away from our 1st dropoff point. I could tell it was way deeper because i could hardly see the bottom, nevertheless we decided to give it a go. It was 18m deep and has a different coral composition. It actually looks and feels like a new dive site to me although it's part of Mel's Reef. My buddy Dean constantly kept me alert with unique or exciting things he saw by WAVING his hand infront of me. I was like dooooooood, use ur tank bang! Cos several times he had to come and get me, and lost sight of whatever it was he wanted to show me.

But he managed to show me something really interesting. He pointed towards a burrow and told me to wait. Obviously for something to emerge? What is it? A minute ticked by and it felt like forever, so i swam around the area to keep myself occupied while he wait. He is seriously patient! I'm absolutely sure he were observing for more than 10 whole minutes! Then he signalled me over. It was a goby, perched on a little rock ooohhh.. but wait, out comes a yellow shrimp and with my excited outburst of bubbles, they both zoomed back in. So dean waited again, for the curious goby to come out. I swear he was totally amused by it all.

When i related this to Kimmy back on the boat, she told me that the goby and shrimp both live together. Some kind of symbiotic relationship between them. The shrimp digs a burrow in the sand or gravel and constantly keep it clean from sediment seeping in. The goby lives in this burrow as a tenant. Because the shrimp has poor eyesight, it relies on the goby to warn him of any danger. So, the goby sits at the burrow entrace as a 'guard'. When the shrimp leaves the burrow, it uses one of its antennae to maintain contact with the goby. At the first sign of danger, the goby will flick its tail and both goby and shrimp will retreat into the burrow for safety. Each party gains from this relationship: the shrimp gets a warning of approaching danger, and the goby gets a safe home and a place to lay its eggs. It's simply amazing and we literally witness the said behaviour. I've learnt something new. Thanks to Dean. I usually wouldnt have the patience for it.

.the common pustulosa. and what i call the cottonbud nudi.


Nothing feels like reenergising yourself with a dose of nature.

I'm looking forward to my night dive this Wednesday, i.e. if it doesnt rain like a bishhhh.


Danura on May 15, 2007 at 9:16 PM said...

those featherstars look so pretty lah..and everything else inside...

and sukhasana under water..
someones having fun!!!

Lee on May 16, 2007 at 10:05 AM said...

uh huh!! What pose would you like next? Hehe

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