22 May 2007

The freaks come out at night

Day: Monday, 21 May 2007 - Sunset Dive
Crew: Myself, Caroline, Toon, Steven, Eng (Instructor) and Hassan (Boatman)
Dive Site: Mel's Reef
Viz: V.Good ~20m
Max Depth: 10m
Dive Time: 50m
.What image stabiliser?.

It was a matter of risking it or not. Weather forecast reads thunderstorms, thick dark clouds outside my office window, looks like rain.. i actually thought i could skip this dive. But Eng called and said "The sea condition is very good, and visibility is fantastic". The fishermen gave the good-to-go. So should we really risk it? Ironic but the honest truth - I trust fishermen more than the weather forecast when it comes to sea condition. They are the lords of the sea.

I rushed like a mad woman to get batteries for my torch, rush home to change and grab my gears, rush to STI, rush to change into my wetsuit and we took off at 5.30pm. It was already raining in Muara, and Tutong. huuuuu. What's amazing is there were less storm clouds over Mel's Reef and we were only allowed to do 1 dive.

.When we submerged into the blue world.

Diving during sunset is one of the, if not, most surreal experience. You take a look at the setting sun before you dive in. It's calling it a day. It dazzles you as it glints off the droplets on your mask. It's the time people on land calls it a day. You take the plunge into the manic rush hour of the underwater world.

When the sun sets, out comes the sex-crazed lunatics, featherstars start to crawl, sponge crabs start stomping around corals, and fish are no longer friends but food. During the day, sharp eyesights keeps most fish aware of looming danger, but as daylight fades away, it becomes harder to spot their predators. I'm so ready for all this action.

When we got our feet wet, Caroline saw a huge black ray with a white tail lurking beneath us. eek
Steven and I descended as quickly as we could without compromising our safety. Too bad, we were a few seconds too late, i know better now not to chase after a ray/shark/turtle.. you tend to breathe like a manic and exhaust your air twice as fast.

I turned on my torch, however a small amount of light still pierced through the surface overpowering my torch. We dived at a creeping pace to ensure we catch sight of them night critters should they come out to play. We saw various crabs and shrimps that are only active at night scuttling around sponges and corals preying for food. Among the prettier crabs is the porcelain anemone crab. They may be small but they're extremely photogenic, the only problem is you have to find them! Usually, if you look hard enough, you can find them hiding among its host anemone but when disturbed it'll retreat under the anemone.

I was so engrossed in shooting the porcelain crab that when i lift up my head i realised everything is a tinge of black. Mr.Sun has punched out. My vision of this entire reef is limited to the circle of my torch. Occassionally, i will scan my surroundings just incase a great barracuda or reef shark decides to sneak up on me. lol Haha, i'm j/k, looking out for missy toitle ok.

.Panda anemonefish sound asleep. Baby orange anemonefish.

.Who's the rosiest of them all.

Then these sea animals disguised as plants that you normally see during the day spring to life with their tentacles outstretched feeding on various microscopic organisms. The featherstar starts creeping like a spider across boulders. It gives me goosebumps.

Right: Brittle sea star, look at those needles.
.Baby cuttlefish!.
Eng grabbed my arm and signalled to ascend. Boohuuu... how it is possible that we've been under for over 50 minutes. Now, safety stop at night is much more entertaining. You can cover your torch and a wave of your hand in the dark starts a brief but beautiful fluorescent show displayed by light-emitting planktons.

.When we emerged out of the blue world.

And you surfaced to the welcoming moonlight and sparkling diamonds in the sky. Sunset and night dives can be utterly romantic.

Diving might never have a unanimous appeal. Seeing marine life and getting out of the daily hustle and bustle is just one of the many reasons that tempt us underwater but for some it just isnt their thing.

Thought i could smell satay on our way back to shore. MMmmm.


Steven Goh said...

Its such a surprise turn of event that night. It looked so gloomy that day and waala.. when we reached the dive sites, it was so peaceful.

Heaven must have looked at us well for this dive!. I just miss that sunset.

Foodie Tales on May 23, 2007 at 10:29 PM said...

Gorgeous pics and your writing just brings everthing to life for your readers.

Lee on May 24, 2007 at 9:15 AM said...

haha.. we were so lucky. there's definitely more to come.

Lee on May 24, 2007 at 10:46 AM said...

Foodie tales, thank you so much for your kind comment! It's people like you that encourage us to share the secrets of the deep blue sea :)

48 on May 27, 2007 at 7:35 AM said...

Hi! Just wondering if you know where to get disposable underwater camera here in Bru? I heard u can get it in KL for RM$30 or something...Am going snorkling in Kelantan nextweek, but doubt we will have to time to go to the city to look for them as time shall be limited :S

Lee on May 27, 2007 at 3:56 PM said...

Hi 48, I've not seen disposable underwater camera myself in Brunei, but my friend has. The thing is she cant remember where :P Try calling some of the camera shops in town. Also check out the shops at the island/resort you're heading to. They usually sell disposable cameras that are waterproof to a certain depth. Sorry!

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