27 August 2008

Feeding Frenzy!

Day: Friday, 22 August 2008- Day Dive
DiveCrew: Me, Caryn, Edward, Ann, Ching Ching, Dave, Chris, Vee, Rozie, Cik Azli, Uwais and Hj Kula
Dive Site: Champion Reef, Harun's Wreck, Hornet's Reef
Viz: Super
Max Depth: 20+m
Dive Time: As long as our air holds.

As usual, i woke up late and had to rummage through the store room for my dive gears. But that doesnt compare to the classic 'prawn-head-of-a-me" case.

Thursday evening, Steven was kind enough to help me get dive tanks and weights from Cik Azli and deliver it to my office carpark. I swear, Steven, i was going on and on about what's missing, something's missing, didnt i!

When i was at Jerudong, gleefully attaching my BCD to the dive tank, my damned memory came back, "#&*$! REGULATOR! I forgot my regulator!!" Sigh... luckily Azli had a spare one otherwise this is one damned day.

.(L-R):Kimchee face, taking advantage of the human sunshield.

.Hj Kula loves his paaaruuut.
.Vee, one interesting lady i met and the 1st Bruneian marine biologist that i know of, though working in the UK. Her take on diving in UK is "boooring, crap viz and we dive to take mud samples".

Champion Reef
This reef lends its name to its close proximity to the offshore Champion rigs. I've always heard stories from friends that being in Champion is like being in a steel-up resort, the water's clear and fish are aplenty. True enough, even a distance away from Champion, i can see right to the bottom of the reef from our boat. Muhuuhuu, at this time of the year, this is pure bonus.

The first thing that caught my attention as i was descending was this bumphead parrot fish chipping corals in circles. Seeing 1 bumphead parrot fish in Brunei is definitely of no comparison to that in Sipadan, where they are of a bigger size and comes in a larger scale, however seeing 1 bumphead parrot fish in Brunei is somewhat exciting because this is not a common sight here.

.This site is like a mysterious ground of tangled reefs. I like it.
.Waters in Brunei are not exactly flattering for reef profiles and without big-ass strobes, i cant compensate for the lacklustre portraits. That is why i still prefer macro shots.

.This bicolor blenny is the most common variation of the blenny family. Hide-n-seek is probably their favourite past-time. Very often they can be tricked out of hiding by you hovering perfectly still. They are one of the cutest thing underwater. I have yet shot any that literally looks like that have makeup on.
.Somehow reminds me of enokis.

.It was eyeballing my every move.

.One monstrous looking thing puts an end to our 1st dive.

Arun's Wreck
Typical of the names of other wrecks here in Brunei, we usually name it after the person who located it. But i dont know who Arun is or whether Arun is actually a person =P The atmosphere at this wreck is what i would depict as a lunch break rush hour!. It's a frenzied state of mess.

The wreck was swarmed by a massive school of cardinalfish and fusiliers. Some are parked still, some are darting for preys, some are darting for dear life. It's like watching a blahdy symphony in action.

.Chris said when up close, the fluffy corals reminds him of Narnia.
.The lionfish' unfaltering sulk.
.Spot the flounder.
Caryn spotted this flounder by the sandbed and signalled that it was feeding. But i had no idea whatsoever she was signalling at that time, so i swam pretty near to this flatbread. Almost instantaneously, i felt nudges. There were fish darting straight at me; whamming my stomach, my hands, my knees. It's neither funny nor cute if you're not prepared for it. I was cursing the life of these fish and swaying my hands like a nut so they'd avoid my face. Then, a sudden leapt, drizzles of sand later, one of them was gobbled by the flatbread. HOLY! What's left of the fish was its tail flipping and hanging from the flounder's crooked mouth. And in a matter of seconds, it effortlessly swallowed the bugger. If you look closely, you can see a bulge below its gills.
.The trapped sweetlips and puffers that Chris, Rozie and Vee tried to save, but to no avail.
.OMG i want a tank filled with these jellyfish!.

This dive is superb, so good that even after constant banging of calls to ascend, people still lingered on at the bottom. The anchor man freeing us from this spot to the next dive site.

Hornet's Reef
My first question was "is this reef named hornet's reef because it was infested with bees??" Rozie related a tale told by fishermen that when they were hauling their traps, a swarm of bees/wasps/hornets burst out of the waters. Whatta! But apparently that's how it got its name.

This reef is one of a kind. We dropped off to a depth of 6m, then the reef starts plunging to 9m and 13m and then 16m like a cliff face. It is so unique! It's quite unimaginable that 20mins away from shore, the bottom of the sea is only 5 metres from the surface. You can practically snorkel here!

.Gobies, another interesting species in the same family group as blennies.
.Parrot Trace's favourite underwater 'plant' - Oh, for crying out loud!'

.Underwater Cranium. The navel village.

.If only i can landscape this into my backyard.
.Last shot before my camera kapooot.

I took over the wheels from Hj Kula on the way back to Jerudong. I must say the captain's seat needs to be cushioned. I suffered from bruised back and bones for 3 whole days.

After this dive, i wonder if i ever can and will be a dive fanatic again. I doubt i can repeat the every weekend-underwater routine anymore. But i think the one thing that remains unchanged is; the sea is still my comfort zone and is the one place with no boundaries.


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