25 June 2007

I saw a Hammerhead!

Day: Sunday, 24 June 2007 - Day Dive
Crew: Myself, Angel, Allen, Sharon, Victor, Reuben, Cikgu, Keith (from Alabama), Zoe (from JIS), Jason (from JIS), Eng (Instructor), Wan and Bala (Captain)
Dive Site: Princess Avenue
Viz: So-so! 8m
Max Depth: 12m
Dive Time: 60m, 60m
.Forgive me for my crappy shots today.

I literally have to dragged myself out of bed after only 4 hours of sleep. Picked up the yummy nasi katok from Alma Restaurant in Mata-Mata, some junk food and headed straight to STI.

I told Angel and Allen to be there by 8.00am but i didnt arrive until 8.20 myself. Muhuhuu. How embarrassing
redface . Met Sharon whom i've not dived with since last year. Pleasant morning, weather looks great, sea is calm... princess avenue, here we come!

It was an easy ride, roughly 18km off Empire though it took what felt like forever. Eng could see the bottom of the reef so viz should be better than last Friday! My buddies were Allen, Angel and Sharon. We descended using the anchor line and when we hit the bottom, i noticed only Allen was beside me. Sharon was still bobbing on the surface so Angel went up to check on her. I signalled to Allen that we'll just look around that area while waiting for them. I was adjusting my bouyancy then out of the corner of my eye i thought i saw something move. I swear i turned so fast i heard my neck cracked.

It's yellow.
It's big.
There's an eye.
I inched closer.
It cannot be.
I squinted.
It cannot be!
I'm staring at a YELLOW SEAHORSE staring back at me.

I muffled an "Eeeeeeeeee". A million thoughts ran through my head. I pointed it out to Allen and gave him the thumbs up. I grabbed my camera, and let out a "farkkkkkkkk" under my breath. Not the least bit graceful, i know. Because! My baby G7 is sitting at home with its lens jammed, and here i am using my Ixus that doesnt seem to focus right. cry I wanted to stab myself. I banged my tank profusely, where the hell is everyone? A couple of minutes later, Angel and Sharon finally descended... Zoe saw it too... but the rest missed out.

Though not picture perfect, we've really tried our best.

.I'm camera shy. The Hippocampus Kuda.

Actually, that is so true. What common? Seahorses are anything but common these days. The last time we saw a seahorse was one year ago in Brunei Patch. I've seen turtles and dolphins way more times than i have a seahorse. The hippocampus kuda was last classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The extraordinary thing about them is they totally defy conventional gender role expectations. They are the only animal in the world in which it's the male that gets pregnant. This is what you call Extreme Feminism, man! Muhuuhuu. And they are one of nature's true romantics. Most of them are faithful to each other for life, mating with each other repeatedly and exclusively which is really rare in the fish world. 'Cept for the big-belly or rather pot-belly seahorse who will most likely jiggy to Nelly's Promiscous.

Before impregnating the HEhorse, SHEhorse packs nutrients in her egg lining. Now, that's the woman's talking! When the magic moment comes, they piroutte together..courting with affection. Then SHEhorse deposits her eggs directly into HEhorse's protective pouch. His pouch is just like the womb of a female mammal, where he fertilises and nourishes the brood between 10 days to 6 weeks, depending on the species. After which, HEhorse is ready to give birth... complete with contractions and heavy gulping. I cannot possibly imagine. And in about 30 minutes, voilaaaa... baby seahorses!! Depending on their species, they can deliver between 15 to 1000 babies at a time. AND! they can deliver in the morning and get pregnant again in the afternoon. You got to admire such a heroic act.


CNN took an informal poll of the public and found that overall, men don't suffer from seahorse envy.

"I think I'm glad I'm not a seahorse," comments one man.

"I've always thought it was wonderful that my wife did the job," comments another.

And how do people think the world would change if men could get pregnant?

"I don't think epidurals would be optional - I think it would be required."

"They would probably have about five to 10 years of maternity leave," says one woman.



The saddest thing is that this shy and graceful creature are considered as remedies in most Asian countries, one of the main reasons for the cause of endangerment. Quacky but Traditional Chinese Medicine. (TCM)
is recognized by the World Health Organization as a viable health care option. Thankfully, there are people who fight to ensure their survival.

.Things to do during your 3 min safety stop.

1.Tap into your inner peace. 2.Live the Peter Petrelli dream.

Zoe was absolutely thrilled to see her 1st seahorse. "Seahorse, seahorse" Keith questioned whether we really saw it. "Seahorse, seahorse" Angel was busy changing tanks "Seahorse, seahorse" I was flicking through my pictures "Seahorse, seahorse". I think i've accurately described how happy Zoe was.

.Forgot to white balance. Still, you cant miss Angel's bombastic pink force fins and ooh, her best friends, the barracudas.

I really really enjoyed my dive. This reef is truly a princess. Unlike Mel's Reef/Little Dale, its formation is scattered reefs among sand patches. It's absolutely gorgeous. Marine life is aplenty. There are floors of hundreds and hundreds of anemones. I've never seen so many anemones that housed so many different types of clownfish in any one site.
Apart from the seahorse, we also saw a juvenile sweetlips, nudis, flatworms, gobies, baby octopus, different types of anemone shrimps, tons of parrotfish feeding, and big-ass brain corals.

Angel and I both think Allen is our lucky star. So he's a must when we go back this Thursday night.

And i did see a Hammerhead!! lol Not much of a shark, heh... :P


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