07 August 2007

Crap viz and mad underwater surge

Crew: Myself, Caryn, Louise, Paulius, Eric, Andrew, Caroline, Toon, Han Peng, Eugene, Simon, Cik Azli and Uwais
Dive Site: Mel's Reef @ Little Dale and Brunei Patches
Viz: Crap beyond crap, from 1m to arm's length
Max Depth: 14m
Dive Time: 40m, 40m & 50m

A few people, deterred by unpleasant weather conditions the past few days, pulled out from this dive. I drove towards Jerudong Beach thinking this could be our lucky day judging from the clear blue skies. I didnt know what i was in for.

Today, Louise and Pualius are completing their last few open water dives before being certified an Open Water Diver. Their 1st dive last friday with Caryn was in yucky brown waters and i'm impressed they didnt get put off by that... even after witnessing a barge half-engulfed by the sea. Louise and Paulius are both from the Oxford Business Group, who are appointed to work on a publication wrt Brunei Tourism. They are dedicating 2 pages of that book to scuba diving and hopefully sometime in October, we can see their own narration of diving in Brunei.

Little Dale has always been the most reliable site when bad weather abounds. However, this time even Little Dale had to admit defeat. The continuous rain over the weeks have stirred up so much crap and we were like tossed salad, flung left and right by the mad underwater surge. I had to cling on to rocks to avoid whamming against the corals. I descended with Cik Azli, Uwais, Louise, Caryn and Paulius but when i took my eyes away from them for that split second and *whoosh* they're gone. That's how crap the viz was. Luckily Uwais stuck around so the both of us roamed the reef. It was pretty much pin your face to the coral bed if you even wish to see anything then i realised i was overshadowed by something big. Even Uwais thought that the boat was on top of us. But no, we were surrounded by a huge school of rainbow runners! That was really cool.

Shocking report is Andrew benched the entire dive trip! He went down, had a look, surfaced "Lousy viz" and went on to catch his beauty sleep on the boat. Unbelievable!

For our 2nd dive, i bugged Caroline to go down with me. Together with Toun, we saw something that still leaves me scratching my head! It all started with a tail wagging vigourously under a ledge, we then positioned ourselves infront of the ledge and watched the phenomenon for over 10 minutes. It was a catfish. There wasnt just one, but two catfish. One started nudging the other at the belly. They peeked out at us, then swam back in. Caroline flashed away, i took videos. They disappeared into the ledge only to reappear with one's head in the other's mouth! eek

.Notice the big gash on its body.

We were debating whether it was a courtship or were they actually fighting for territorial space. The nudging and wrapping around each other are obvious signs of a "spawning embrace" but how do you explain the aggressive display? Though Toon and Caryn mentioned that when sharks/hammerheads mate, the male would bite the female to position the union leaving tell-tale bitemarks. That is absolutely bizarre. Another great example that Love Bites!

I was totally engrossed with this "magnificient anemone" when i saw what resembled clownfish eggs tucked on the side of it! Females usually lay their eggs in or near an anemone. Caroline and I spent a fair bit of our dive watching and shooting them. That paid off, i managed to see parenthood in action. Mum appeared to be aerating her babies by blowing water through them, Dad was busy fanning them with his fins to aerate them too as well as remove any debris that may have settled on them. He is also known to remove any unfertilised or fungally-infected eggs by eating them.

.Mum and Dad on duty.
There were also trying at large to distract me away from their babies. Unfortunately, i couldnt get a closer shot of the eggs, could have seen tiny baby eyes.. i didnt wanna risk getting bumped by nemo. :P

Viz at Brunei Patches during our 3rd dive was nuts. Having said so, Caroline and I still clocked in 50mins. eek I'm totally at a loss for words to sum up this dive trip. It would be what most would describe as a bad dive, a waste of time, and yup i did throw up.. again.. but i did not return empty handed. Witnessing the catfish and clownfish behaviour has certainly made my day.

Here's a slideshow/video Caryn and I made for Louise and Paulius.
(*Click play and wait for the video to load)

Find more videos like this on Divebums - You got gills?


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