## Tuesday, July 31, 2007

### Axe Murderer Tours in Stars & Stripes!!!!!

I got an e-mail from my friend who I took diving a couple weeks ago. You'll remember he's the one who lives in Japan and works for Stars and Stripes - the military newspaper. He saw my blog and wrote me to ask who he could go diving with when he came to Saipan in a few weeks. We had a couple great Grotto dives together, and thoroughly enjoyed our time. I didn't realize he had taken a few pictures of me while we were diving. So in his e-mail he asked if he could use the pictures of me for something he's putting in Stars and Stripes for the Augst 12th edition. So Saipan and the Grotto will be getting some international exposure to military personnnel from his story and pictures. Things like this are worth their weight in gold promotionally for Saipan. I'm beginning to think the government should just hire me to replace Marianas Visitors Authority. I'm a heck of a lot cheaper and will probably get just as much publicity for the islands. In the picture above, I was busy doing what I'm almost always doing down there these days, taking pictures of nudibranchs. And speaking of nudibranchs, Saipan has been getting a lot of interest on the internet as a result of the nudibranch pictures I've been posting to different sites lately. The picture above is when I was taking Doug outside the Grotto for a look around. Needless to say I'm quite excited about the pictures and story being in Stars and Stripes, and Axe Murderer Tours may soon have more business than I know what to do with. Too bad I don't charge anything for my dive services, I might be able to buy myself lunch one of these days if I did. So on August 12th, you can go to the online version of Stars & Stripes to see the pictures and the story. Many thanks to Doug Johnson for taking the pictures in the blog entry for today and then agreeing to let me use them.

Seriously CNMI government, if you really want to save some money, you could hire me to keep promoting Saipan through my blog instead of all that money you spend on MVA. You can just pretend that I wouldn't keep doing it for free anyway. I'm telling you though, I think you'd get much better bang for your buck! And Angelo can't understand why this seems to be the favorite Saipan blog. Sorry pal, you kill innocent grass and scare trees to death, I play free tour guide and bring Saipan lots of great exposure. Promote Saipan - vote Harry's World!

### New Nudi's

Sunday I decided I was just going to look for nudibranchs in the Grotto, to see how many different kinds I could find. I wasn't really looking for the Halgerda guahan and malesso, but I found them anyway in spots I hadn't seen them before. But again, not in anywhere near the numbers I saw last weekend. And since I did discover several new egg ribbons, I believe that my theory holds about last weekend being some kind of designated reproduction weekend on the Halgerda calendar. It could be a total coincidence but someone up in the parking lot had "I Like the Way You Move" the Earth, Wind & Fire version playing really loud with their doors open and windows down. Maybe that inspired the nudibranch's the previous weekend, after all they do have some very fluid moves. But the point here is that I was looking for other nudibranchs, and much to my amazement, I actually found some of the tiny little critters. The amazing thing to me is that these guys are between 1/4" to 1/2" in length. They are so small they just look like little blurs to me without my reading glasses, but then when I can blow the picture up on the computer screen, these are what they look like, amazingly detailed little creatures. I still have no idea what the nudibranch in the top picture is, so if you know please leave a comment and enlighten me. I do now know that the second nudibranch, the orange one with white bumps with pink on them is a Cadlinella ornatissima, thanks to Erwin Kodiat at nudipixel.net. If you'd like to check out my nudibranchs there, you can go to my gallery. I've got to believe though that for every one that I manage to find and see, there are probably at least 50 that I've missed. That's why I'm still looking for a seeing eye diver, someone with better eyes than me who can point me in the right direction. One of the authors of the books who is using several of my pictures has suggested that we start compiling a list of all known nudibranchs in Saipan. He said it appears we may have some that are significantly different than others known in other parts of the world, and having a database of them would be very usefull for researchers. I wholeheartedly agree, and plan on seeing what I can do to get all nudibranch photographers interested to cooperate in the project. Plus it will be one more way to get Saipan on the map, and on the internet. The nudibranch in the picture above was just identified by Bill Rudman on the Sea Slug Forum as a Chromodoris cf. lochi, as he put it, "for lack of a real name". We're going to put Saipan on the map with nudibranchs, just as soon as I get my seeing eye diver!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these beautiful little creatures that most people don't even realize exist. And if you enjoyed them, remember, vote for Harry's World!

## Monday, July 30, 2007

### The Whole Truth, or Something Very Entertaining!

WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Disclaimer:
While this blog may be entirely true, I can't factually support many (or any for that matter) of the rumors and innuendos contained herein, therefore you are strongly advised to just take this as purely entertaining. Of course if you want to consider it total truth, I can't stop you. And whatever you do, please, please, please don't tell anyone else a word of this, but if you do be sure to pass along this full disclaimer absolving me of any responsibility in the matter. I sure wish they let you make the type smaller for this sort of thing.

Well, I really hate stooping to the level of my competitors for the Best Saipan Blog contest and going to negative campaigning. But I have gotten word that Angelo has started an ABB campaign. No it's not about him tightening up his abs, although EJ might want him to. A friend (who shall remain nameless for his, or her own protection) sent me an e-mail with a link to Angelo's little campaign. Now if you read those other sort of blogs where Angelo made his statement and started his little campaign, you might think that ABB stands for Anybody But Blalock. Meaning that Angelo really thinks I'm his main competition in this campaign, so he would rather have you vote for anybody but me.

Well, something told me there was more to this ABB than meets the eye, so I started digging into just what it might really mean. So I called Angelo's mother to ask if she could give me any insight into these strange initials. She thought for a few minutes, then told me that it must be because it's what he always heard growing up, Angelo Bad Boy, Angelo Bad Boy. She figures he must have just abbreviated it, and those initials continue haunting him to this day. Why does this not surprise me at all?

But surely that couldn't be it could it? I mean for someone to go off the deep end as it appears Angelo is doing, it seems like there would just have to be much more to it. Sure enough, my investigation next led me to a police department in an unnamed location, where after talking to several officers I found out that Angelo Beats Babies. So it would seem that his whole life is starting to revolve around these initials.

But still, there must be more to it. Then I talked to someone who explained the whole conspiracy to me. They asked if I remembered who Angelo put on the summer camp with, and all the sudden it started becoming crystal clear. Angelo is an environmentalist, and evidently doesn't have a very good sense of humor. He obviously read my Harry's Crab Shack piece I did a couple weeks ago. He was probably offended that I used the term Enviro-Nazi's, even though I wasn't talking about him. But no, there's more. You'll recall that there was another certain blogger, who continues to remain nameless and linkless (now she's even linkless on Angelo's blog) and evidently I underestimated the friendship between her and Angelo. Now I learned that ABB stood for Angelo's Bestfriend Br (I can't bring myself to do it, so she shall have to remain the nameless one).

Now the picture was finally coming together and I could understand why Angelo wanted me to lose this contest so badly. But wait, there's even more. I know, this kind of sounds like a Ginsu knife infomercial, but I swear every single word of it is true, or at least very entertaining. Believe it or not, but this whole conspiratorial plot gets even more heinous, it gets racial, well if you consider bald it's own racial category. I just recently found out that ABB stands for Anybody But Baldies. So it's not just me that Angelo is discriminating against, it's Jeff too! The truth of the matter is that Angelo is a rabid hairatic or harr-atic, he may be a heretic too, but there's less proof of that than of the others. Angelo openly discriminates against those of us who choose to let our skin glow. Well ok, in Jeff's case it may not be a choice, but that's really not the point here. Jeff is right, bald is beautiful and I will stick with my folically challenged friend through thick and thin, or none in our case.

So I beg of you, don't fall for the seemingly innocent ABB campaign and become a hater yourself. You know that bald is beautiful, and I'm much funnier and more entertaining than Angelo. And it's a proven fact that that 9 out of 10 EJ's prefer Harry, and as for the other one, she prefers Jeff. Don't blame us Angelo, we can't help it if Bald and talkative is the new sexy - your words I believe. So now that all of you know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or at least a highly entertaining version of it, go ahead change your vote and vote for Harry!

Disclaimer:
Angelo isn't really as bad as he appears to be from this post, but then again that's just a rumor too, so good luck sorting all of this out. I do believe he has a good sense of humor though, at least I sure hope he does!

### A Special Encore Show

Of course I spent most of the weekend in the Grotto once again trying to see if last weekend was indeed the grand weekend of reproduction for these elegant looking nudibranchs, the Halgerda guahan and Halgerda malesso. The one in the picture above is a malesso, remember it has the yellow dots on it and the yellow lines around the edge. I didn't see them in the numbers as last weekend, but I did see about 7 of them Saturday, and then about the same number on Sunday. I was particularly happy with the shot I got of this guy, with the blue sky showing through the water behind the nudibranch, contrasting his gills. I just thought the color combinations were awesome. And no I didn't pose him, I was taking his picture for about 20 minutes just waiting for him to move into the perfect spot. Fortunately I was looking the right direction when it happened.

This seemed to be the weekend for them to be laying egg ribbons, but that's going to have to be a later entry. I also got pictures of some nudibranchs I haven't seen before, and got to watch the animal come out of a laqueatus shell. That's all coming up later in the week, so keep reading, I have some very cool pictures coming up. And yes, this is all why this is the favorite Saipan Blog - sorry Angelo.

## Sunday, July 29, 2007

### It Ain't Over Til It's Over

Saturday morning, as I've done on countless other Saturday mornings, I rounded up my dive gear and headed for the Grotto, anxious to see what new adventure might be awaiting me. I took a look on the rope rock, and the spot where a bunch of the Halgerda guahan were hanging out last weekend. And just like Mike Tripp reported in his blog there wasn't a single nudibranch to be found. So I went out of hole #2 just to look around, went down to about 120', took a few pictures and then decided to go back inside the Grotto and look for other nudibranchs. I started looking very closely over all the big boulders laying on the ocean floor just inside the #2 opening. And that's when I saw them, those two frisky little Halgerda guahan in the picture above. They were going right at it as if it was last weekend still. So being the voyeur of underwater sex acts that I am, I started snapping away, documenting this for whatever reason.

But Mike had declared the mating season over for these frisky little critters the previous Monday. so was it possible these two just didn't read Mike's blog? Did they not have enough fun the previous weekend, and they wanted round 2? Or had we just jumped to some erroneous conclusions about the whole thing? It was obvious there was something special about the previous weekend for these little jello jiggler types, but maybe it was just the beginning of the season to procreate, and they all come out of hiding to celebrate that fact together. Of course this discovery also had me wondering if I was the Hugh Hefner of the Halgerda guahan community. Did I somehow personally inspire these guys to go at it? Is it my amazingly shiny shaved head? After all, the one key demoninator in all the mating sightings was me, remember Mike didn't see any last Monday. Was I the Pied Piper of sex for this particular genus of nudibranch? How cool would that be? Or had these two just been going at it solid for the past week and were having so much fun they just didn't want it to end? All legitimate questions that definitely require further scientific study before any definitive conclusions can be reached. I decided to keep looking around on these coral encrusted rocks to see if it was a fluke or if there might indeed be any proof that I was the Pied Piper of the Halgerda Guahan. That's when I ran across this guy. I don't know if he was just out for a Saturday stroll, wanted to say hi to me, or if I had somehow inspired him to come out and look for another of his species to get down and dirty with too. One thing was becoming increasingly clear though, the Halgerda guahan were still out this weekend, at least for me and were very into posing for pictures. You can tell by the way they seductively show off those rhinopores. So I spent a fair amount of time with this one too taking pictures, letting her know I thought she was just as attractive as the last nudibranch.
Now I was convinced that they were coming back out for me, so I kept looking, and then I stumbled across this Halgerda malesso. Now I still hadn't caught any of the malesso in the act, so I didn't know if they just hadn't managed to hook up yet, if it wasn't their mating season, or if they just liked to come out and watch all the guahan getting it on. But either way, I was glad to have another one of them to take pictures of and to document. I wound up seeing another 5 of these guys before calling this dive quits about 2 1/2 hours later.

So even though I may not have won the title of Saipan's Sexiest Male Blogger, I think there is now ample proof to declare that I am probably the most sexually stimulating Saipan male blogger to Halgerda guahan nudibranchs. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure whether that's something to be proud of or embarassed over. Well, I'm going to assume it means nothing but good things, and that my shiny shaved head is an inspiration to them all. Sorry Mike, but if you shave your head, you might find you have more luck. Anyway, we all know you like my stories, so vote for Harry's World for Saipan's favorite blog. And yes, it's perfectly ok to go back and change your vote, there is a little option at the bottom for that. All I have to say is, it's a very good thing that the nudibranchs can't vote, or I'd be a shoe in.

## Friday, July 27, 2007

### Here They Go Again

I don't recall asking to be included in the last poll, the one for Saipan's sexiest male blogger, and I don't recall asking to be included in the latest Jeff Turbitt creation either. I think they just keep including me in such things to make themselves look better. But since they've done it to me anyway, I guess I should shamelessly ask for your vote. If you enjoy my diving pics, cat stories and twisted sense of humor, I'd appreciate your vote for this one. Angelo really wants to win this one, so that makes me want it even more. A vote for Harry is a vote that you think the ocean is an amazing place, and want to see more of it! So since Jeff didn't see fit to include such amazing blogs as Bev's Bubbles in Paradise, Connie's Island Treasures, Deece's Great Expectations, EJ's World, Greg's Rock in the Tropical Sun, the lovely Hozumi's blog, Shazam, and how could you not include my Buddy Mike Tripp's amazing blog? I'm appealing to all of you to vote for Harry on this one, surely you wouldn't vote for Jeff after he snubbed you! Anyway, thanks to all of you who see fit to vote for me, muchos gracias!

### The Importance of Discovering & Sharing

After having done thousands of dives, I feel like I'm really only beginning to learn about some of the amazing things underwater. That's partly because for some of the creatures that live down there, we are really only beginning to learn about them, such seems to be the case with Halgerda guahan, the nudibranch in the picture. In the picture above, 3 of them were coming together for the purpose of mating. Why 3, I don't know, maybe they were having a race. One of the reasons there is so little known about them is that this particular nudibranch only seems to live in the Mariana Islands. So if there haven't been any divers with an interest in this particular nudibranch previously, there really wouldn't be much information on them. We just happened to stumble on something very unique and important in their world last weekend, they came out of holes all over to meet up and reproduce. What was the significance of last weekend? That's something nobody seems to know yet.
As cool as it was for me to stumble across this unique event, it is also very cool to share the information with those who have been studying nudibranchs far longer than I have and have other pieces of the puzzle. When all of us who stumble upon a little piece of the puzzle if we share it with those who have some of the other pieces, it helps us to understand what is going on with this unique species. I have come into contact with some very well known and respected underwater photographers, explorers and authors, who have more information catalogued away than I can ever hope to know. I sent a few of the pictures from this past weekend along with the story about it to Neville Coleman. Neville was the latest gentleman to contact me about using my pictures in his upcoming nudibranch book. He has written 69 books on underwater subjects, done numerous TV specials, and this year was inducted into the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. So I think he's probably a fairly knowledgable person and a great one to share experiences such as this with.
Here is part of his e-mail back to me about the whole experience.

"Dear Harry,

Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic experience. There are fantastic critters in caves especially when there are hydroids on the walls and ceilings. I never get wet without a torch.

We really know so little because we can only spend so much time down there and things happen for moments in time and we have to be right there on the spot....time and time again. There are at least another 25,000 stories out there we need to know about.........thank goodness! Keep me out of mischief for another 20 years I hope.

I would love to put your discoveries in the book, the egg ribbon and of the mating specimens."

So now my little piece of the puzzle regarding Halgerda guahan will be going into Neville's upcoming book, sharing the information and knowledge with anyone else who may have an interest, and possibly other pieces of the puzzle. Who knows, there may even be a time when divers with an interest in nudibranchs from all over the world may flock to Saipan to witness this amazing event. Now we just have to figure out how often it happens and when the conditions are that trigger it. Still a lot more to learn, but every discovery starts with the first step.

So the next time you discover something very cool, take the time to find out who some of the leading researchers on the topic are, and share your experience with them. You just never know what piece of the puzzle you may be holding on to.

## Thursday, July 26, 2007

### A Cat Update

I realize there are those who wonder why I keep posting anything about my cats and their cat door, but there are also those who are following it with a smirk on their faces. The bottom line here is it's my blog, and if I want to talk about training cats to use a cat door, I will. Kind of like the cats attitude about the cat door, if they feel like using it, they will. There was some concern about what kind of critters (who don't belong in the house) might decide to use the cat door as a means to gain entry to the house. To my knowledge that hasn't been a problem at all, and my cats aren't very accomodating of furry critters smaller than they are. Alex has many scars and war wounds to prove that fact.

For a while we were sure that Alex was using the cat door to go out, he's the one with white on him and the stub tail, but we didn't know if Charlie was using it to go out or not. Charlie seemed to understand the concept when he wanted to come in to the house, but going out seemed to be another story. To my knowledge, Alex has not continued to use Sarah's shower for his own personal bathroom, it was just those two times. Which leads me to believe he really wasn't happy with her for some reason. You have to admit, that was an effective way to get that message across - not that I'm advocating you do it. So since I wasn't sure Charlie was really using the door to go out, but I knew Alex understood the concept, I decided to have a chat with Alex about it and ask him to please have a talk with Charlie and show him how it was done. I find the best way to have these talks is to give Alex a big bowl of tuna soaked in Scotch. I have a glass too since Alex doesn't like to eat and drink alone. Alex will sit there twitching that stump tail of his looking off into space with a vacant gaze, so you're never really sure if he's listening, paying attention or just humoring you for the tuna and Scotch. That's why I was so thrilled when I saw this whole episode unfold the other day. I saw Alex motioning for Charlie to follow him. Alex went through the door first, and I saw him look back giving Charlie a look.

You can imagine my excitement when I saw Charlie actually follow Alex through the door without being pushed this time. So I thought that was the end of it, both cats had successfully used the cat door to come in and go out, they knew that they were supposed to do their business outside, and everything should be good. What I didn't count on was Alex meowing at my door at 1 am this morning once again. He was saying something about us needing to have another talk, and that I should bring the tuna and Scotch. If it's not one thing, it's another!

(And just in case anyone from the SPCA is reading this, I'm just kidding about giving Alex Scotch with his tuna. I would never waste perfectly good.......tuna. And no I didn't have any Scotch myself when I wrote this, I thought I'd say it before Angelo did.)

## Wednesday, July 25, 2007

### Seeing Eye Dog Underwater

I came to a sad realization this past weekend, and this little nudibranch is a big part of reason. Sometime after you hit 40, your eyes stop serving you the way they have up to that point. All the sudden one day you find you can't read the newspaper anymore, and since when did they use such small print in the menu's at restaurants? You can claim it's not happening, you can fight it, try to deny it, squint, or whatever you think may work for you. But the truth of the matter is you've arrived at that point in life where you need to start using reading glasses to see anything clearly that's within 2 feet of your face. So even if you've gone to contacts so that you don't have to wear glasses anymore, now you find yourself right back in them again anytime you want to read, or see anything up close, in focus anyway. Even reading the time on your watch can be a real challenge.

My wife needed reading glasses before I did, and I was merciless about teasing her about being old. She is 4 days older than me after all, but she needed reading glasses about 2 years before I did. Or she just started wearing glasses instead of contacts, and then she could just not wear them whenever she was reading or working on the computer. But about a year ago, my near vision started getting so fuzzy that I could only guess at what was in the menu or the newspaper. Sure, if I hold them far enough away it helps somewhat, but if the print is small, I can't see it that far away, so it's not really that much of a help. So I finally broke down and bought a couple pairs of reading glasses, one for the office and one for home. So if you pop in on me in my office, you'll most likely see me sitting there with these old man half glasses on my face, and a frown no doubt.

My dive buddy Doug is also a member of the group that needs reading glasses to see small things up close. So a couple years ago he realized he was having a hard time seeing the tiny shells in the sand because he couldn't focus on them. He could have gotten a prescription bi-focal mask, but those are really expensive. So being the industrious guy that he is, he took the lenses out of a pair of reading glasses and glued them into his mask, a do-it-yourself bi-focal mask. And it seems to work great for him, all the sudden he's finding tiny little things again.

Up until this past weekend, I thought I could get away without reading glasses underwater. But then that darn little nudibranch showed me otherwise. Greg & Bev were looking at something on a rock that was covered with some sort of vegetation. Greg was taking pictures and Bev was shining the light down there. I went over to see what they were looking at, and didn't see anything. Well, that's not entirely true, I saw some little white smudge on the rock, but had no clue what it was, I couldn't focus on it. I figured it must be a nudibranch, so I waited my turn to take a few pictures, hoping they would turn out even though I couldn't really see what I was photographing. Thanks Bill Rudman at Sea Slug Forum I now know that the nudibranch pictured above is a Glossodoris tibboeli.

After taking a few pictures of that nudibranch, I looked around the rock to see what else might be hiding in the little weed growth, but I didn't see a thing so I took off in search of bigger nudibranchs that I can actually see. Then I saw Greg flashing his light at me to come back to that same rock again. And sure enough, right where I had been looking was another nudibranch, at least I was assuming that's what that tiny little blur was. These guys are less than a half inch long, so they really are tiny. So I took a few pictures, hoping again they would turn out. I was quite happy when I got home and uploaded the pictures on my computer to see that they were indeed nudibranchs. Bob Abela to the rescue once again with the name of this nudibranch, it's a Chromodoris elisabethina, a fairly common nudibranch - if your eyes are good enough to spot them that is.

I've come to the conclusion that I need a seeing eye dog on my dives to search for the tiny nudibranchs for me to photograph. I might be able to train my dog Emma to do the job, but the problem is she has a very long nose, and I'd probably have to get a mask custom made. And if I have to go to all the trouble of getting a custom made mask, I might as well get it for myself with built in magnifying glasses. Either that or I need to find a seeing eye dive buddy that is willing to search for the little critters and then call me over when they find them. I'd be willing to pay for your air fills!

## Tuesday, July 24, 2007

### The Little Octopus

Too many times divers miss some of the coolest experiences because they don't take the time to look carefully at what they're swimming over, and I'm sure I miss as much as anybody. Occasionally I do get lucky though and stumble across things that I have a great time observing. Such was the case on my dive with Bev and Greg Sunday afternoon. We had been photographing nudibranchs, but then I decided to cruise over toward the left wall and see what else might be in there that day. That's when I saw what is in this picture, did you see it right away? Actually there wasn't that much of him showing when I first saw him, only his eyeballs were sticking up out of the hole. It's a little octopus, and he was masterful at blending in with his surroundings. I motioned Greg & Bev over and let them both see him and take a few pictures.

The one thing about octopus is if they feel you are too close or they're being watched, they won't come out of their hole. You have to give them some breathing room, and let them relax. Then as they start to feel comfortable, you'll catch them coming up out of their holes like this guy did in this picture. I spent over 40 minutes with this octopus, just watching and waiting for the shot, or shots I wanted. Patience and persistance paid off as he came out and started jumping from one hole to the next.This is the same octopus in all these pictures, but you can see the way he looks vastly different from one picture to the next. That is his attempt to camouflage himself and hide from any predator, or picture taking diver. This is one of the main reasons I dive with such a big tank. When you find something cool, sometimes you have to spend a lot of time just sitting there watching and waiting for just the right shot. Not only do these masters of disguise have the ability to change colors at will to blend in with their surroundings, but they can also change the texture of their skin. They can go from completely smooth, to having what looks like little thorns covering them. Other animals aren't sure whether those protrusions are full of poison or what is up with them, so they think twice before bothering them. And then when all else fails, there is always the old ink trick. The octopus has one more weapon in his arsenal of self defense tactics, he can shoot a cloud of ink in the water, obscuring the visibility for whatever might be after him. And when the elusive octopus feels trapped and he doesn't have a hole to duck into, he can mold himself to the rocks like this and blend right in. Once you learn what to look for and how to identify them, you'll be amazed how many octopus there are out there, but if you don't know what you're looking for, you probably won't see any. I hope you enjoyed the octopus as much as I enjoyed spending time with him.

## Monday, July 23, 2007

### An Amazing Weekend of Diving!!!

Really, just 6 pictures Bev? Bubbles and Greg came along on my Sunday afternoon dive, it was the first outing for Bev's new underwater camera. I kept wondering while we were down there, I'd point things out to her, and she would look at it like, yeah - very cool, but she wouldn't take any pictures. At this point I was wondering if she bought the camera because it matched her swimsuit, or she thought it would look like accessorized jewelry. I'm sure she'll get into the picture taking pretty quick, once she learns what the various settings are for. She claimed she was distracted and that's why she wasn't taking many pictures. It has me wondering what could have possibly been so distracting down there. Seriously, I am looking forward to her getting into underwater photography and then posting her pics, I'm sure she'll find many things that I miss and simply can't see. I think I take 6 pictures as I jump off the rock before I even hit the water though. I've had a few people ask how I get such amazing shots of things. The answer is simple really, I take hundreds of shots, and I'm not exaggerating. Over the weekend I took over 900 pictures. Thank god for the digital age! I figure if you take enough shots, some of them are going to have to turn out. You don't see all the ones that don't turn out, they just get deleted.

Thanks to Bob Abela from Guam, I now know the name of the soft coral in the first picture, it is Minabea aldersladei. He looked it up in "Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific" by Gosliner, Behrens & Williams, he highly recommends the book. If Bob recommends it, it's probably a must have for your marine library. Thanks Bob, always appreciate your help with ID's.

### The Whole Truth & Nothing But the Truth

No these aren't two sea otters surfacing for air in Santa Cruz, it's Greg & Bev in the Grotto. We had just started checking out the frisky nudibranchs at the bottom of #2 hole when Bev started getting a bout of vertigo. If you have never experienced this underwater, you have no idea just how traumatizing and scary it can be. It feels like you're on a carousel at the fair going about 100 mph. Everything spins around and around out of control, and after a little bit of it, you feel like you need to part ways with your lunch. As someone who has to deal with vertigo underwater on a regular basis because of damage I have done to my inner ears, I can totally sympathize and understand. The thing that so impressed me about Bev was that she managed to keep her cool, signal to Greg that she was having a problem and wanted to surface. I was busy being a peeping Harry on the frisky nudibranch. But then I looked back and saw them both heading for the surface, so I followed to find out what was up. Bev let Greg take her slowly and safely to the surface, where we found out what was going on.

Now of course the first thing going through Bev's mind was, oh great, Harry's here and I'm going to have to read all about this in his blog now. Truthfully though, I wouldn't have mentioned it if she hadn't already talked about it in her blog. I have seen many divers get themselves and their dive buddy into trouble because they panic in situations like that. Bev didn't panic, but held it together in spite of the fact that her world was spinning out of control. Even though she was thinking we'd be all freaked out thinking that she was too much drama in the water, I had just the opposite reaction, I was totally impressed with her. To me, her reaction was the mark of a good diver, and the kind of diver I enjoy having along. And I'm not just saying all this because she keeps referring to me as Saipan's sexiest blogger. Frankly, that makes me question whether she needs glasses or a white cane. I really didn't know Bev at all before yesterday, but I can totally see why her nickname is Bubbles, she truly is a riot to be around.

So no worries Bev, I wasn't freaked out, I was impressed. Now as for your photography skills, well that might have to be the fodder for another blog. I did have a couple more awesome dives Sunday, and got some very cool pictures as well. So depending on how my day goes, there may be another entry before the day is over.

## Sunday, July 22, 2007

### Bubbles in the Grotto

For those of you who might recognize her underwater, this is Bev, or Bubbles. She wound up going on a dive with me as a result of her going on a dive with Greg. One of the main things you need to know about her and Greg is that they have matching cameras. Greg had to replace the camera he lost, that he got to replace the other camera he lost. And since he was ordering one anyway, Bev went ahead and had him order her the same one as well.

Now there are many stories that I could tell about this dive, and I might but not tonight. But the most interesting part of it was having Bev show us the pictures she took on the dive. I'm thinking she's going to be doing a new blog feature soon, kind of like Deece's where you have to identify something. Deece always just takes a little square of a bigger picture and you have to identify it. In Bev's case, she wouldn't need to take a square of anything, she could just go ahead and put the whole picture up there, and you'd still have a real contest trying to figure out what it was. Bev just has a different eye for pictures. Anyway, if you know Bev, you might want to ask her about her dive, and about her new underwater jewelry, accesorized wrist wear.

Well Bev, that's all I'm going to say for now. But again, no promises what tomorrow may bring.

### What Happens When You Take Greg Diving

After the amazing dive I had with Mike Saturday morning, of course I had to call Greg and rub his nose in the fact that he missed one of the greatest dives of the year so far. I knew he would be extra bummed because he had his brand new underwater camera he was itching to use for the very first time. I take some kind of perverse pleasure that, sick I know. Anyway, Mike and I had decided that we had to do another Grotto dive that afternoon mainly because of all the nudibranchs that were out. So I told Greg we were heading to lunch at Oleai and then off to an afternoon dive if he wanted to come. It was with mixed emotions I did this, on the one hand I really didn't want the dive jinxed, and figured bringing Jonah (Greg) along might just do that, but on the other hand, I felt the chances of him losing the 3rd camera in a row were excellent, and I'd be right there to claim my ocean salvage rights.

So we all had a good lunch at Oleai, with only a minor amount of bragging about how awesome the morning dive was, and then went home to download our pictures and get fresh batteries. We all agreed we'd meet back up at the Grotto, either above or below the water, but we all knew we'd each other would be. Greg was kind of afraid to take his brand spanking new camera out, but I told him he wasn't allowed to come unless his camera came too. I'm not about to put up with the threat of a jinx without the possibility of getting a new camera out of the deal.
Needless to say I was quite relieved when I got in the water and sure enough, there on the rope rock, was one of the Halgerda guahan nudibranchs. There was indeed something magical about this day for the nudibranchs. Was it Nudi New Year? Was it their Fabulous Festival of Fertility? Or was one of them hosting a kegger party, and you know how quickly word gets around in somewhere as small and close knit as the Grotto community. I have to admit I'm very curious as to why they were all out on this specific day, I have never seen this phenomenon before, and knew that had to be some sort of reason for it.

But then as I went down to the little wall where a bunch of them were hanging out on the first dive, I didn't find a single one on the wall, nada. Now I was convinced the Greg curse was kicking in. I was almost ready to go start following him around waiting for the camera to come floating free, when I stumbled across the nudibranch equivalent of Motel 6.

These two were already involved in some sort of up close and personal activity. They might have tried claiming a Bill Clinton, saying they didn't have sex with each other, but I don't think it would have been anymore true in their case than it was in his. So these two were already getting it on, and there were two others fairly close by that seemed like they were headed each others direction as well. Nudibranchs don't exactly move quickly in most cases, so this is a time consuming process. By this time Mike had arrived and I saw his strobes underwater, so I motioned him over so he could get some good footage. While he was filming them, I went and looked around the area some more trying to spot other of this flambuoyant family of nudibranch. Sure enough, after some very close looking, I managed to find another 3 Halgerda guahan all within a 20 circle. But with Mike and Greg busy filming down there, I decided to go back up and check out the rope rock, besides natural lighting was much better up there.
When I got back up to the rope rock, there were 3 nudibranch out crawling around on the surface of it, one of them being this Halgerda malesso, if you read yesterdays entry you should be able to tell them apart now. So I sat up there happily snapping away. And the longer I stayed there, the more nudibranch's started coming out, there were eventually 7 of them all crawling around. And I actually got to watch one come out of his hiding spot, he spotted the female, or she spotted the male, not really sure how that works, and he went over and they got together. Yup, there was truly something magical about this day to the Halgerda guahan and malesso nudibranchs. If I don't have the largest collection of photographs of these two particular species in the world at this point, I've got to be pretty darn close to it.

While I was taking pictures of the nudibranchs on the rock, I was showing them to as many of the tourists that came through with cameras as I could. I figured they might like to have some pictures of the cute little critters too. Here is a picture of me taking a picture of Mike who is taking a picture of a Japanese tourist taking a picture of the nudibranch. Sometimes life is interesting under the sea, and you just never know what might make an interesting picture.

I still had about 700 pounds of air left in my tank, but I'd already been down over 2 hours anyway, and Mike and Greg were both waiting for me topside, so I went up. We talked about our adventures for a few minutes, then started heading home. I thought our adventures were over, but not quite.

As we were coming down that steep hill that leads up to Suicide Cliff, there was a girl standing next to her car on the side of the road. I didn't think anything of it and just kept on driving. Sir Galahad (Greg) was convinced she was a damsel in distress and needed to be rescued, so he had me turn around to see if she needed help. Sure enough, she was a Russian tourist who had a flat tire, it was on the opposite side so I couldn't see it, and she was wondering what she should do. We tried asking if there was a spare tire, but weren't sure whether she said no, there was no spare tire, or no, I have no clue what you two are saying. So we proceeded to get the jack from my truck and remove her tire so we could get it repaired and get her back on the road again. Right as we were finishing removing the tire, who should wander down the road but Mike. He decided to stop and see if the Russian tourist needed any protection from the two thugs who had stopped to help her. It was at this point that he decided to do what he does best, and took a picture of the 3 of us. I tried to stay out of the picture, but they all insisted I had to be in it for some strange reason.

So Greg and I then took off to get the tire repaired. It was at this point that he said, "hey I don't have any cash on me, can you pay the $3 to get the tire fixed?" That really came as no surprise, he never seems to have any cash on him. So we got to the tire repair shop, and the tire already had a tube in it, which had already been patched. The Chinese tire guy shook his head no, indicating he wouldn't patch it again. That meant we had to buy a new tube, the price jumped to$13. So it cost me $13 for Greg to play Sir Galahad and rescue the damsel in distress. She was actually on her way to go swimming in the Grotto, and now since we were all hot and dirty from changing the tire, we went along. Fortunately for me I still had air left in my tank, so I got to do my 3rd Grotto dive of the day. Sure enough, there were still a couple nudibranchs partying on the rock when I went down. Therefore July 21st shall always officially be known as "Nudi Sex Day". And that my friends is what happens when you take Greg diving, don't say you haven't been warned! ## Saturday, July 21, 2007 ### Nudi Sex Day I figured since my blog is already banned in PSS anyway, what do I have to lose, and besides, it's the truth. Mike Tripp and I decided to go diving together today, for the first time ever. I know, it was long, long overdue. How can two guys who basically live underwater not have gone diving together up to now. We were going to go to Wing Beach, but it was still too rough, just no point chancing it on a day like today. If you don't believe me, you need to read the earlier post talking about my best dives ever. Then we were going to go to Lau Lau, up until Mike read the post I put up about my dives yesterday. I threw it up right before I walked out the door to get my tanks filled. Since I took DJ diving yesterday, and we did 2 Grotto dives, which were absolutely perfect and calm, Mike suggested we go to Grotto. So Grotto it was! Greg thought about coming with us for about half a second, but he opted for the lazy Saturday morning instead. Since Greg was sitting it out, I knew it was going to be a good dive, but of course it also meant my chances of finding a lost camera went down significantly. Greg just got his brand new camera to replace the last one he lost, which he only got a few weeks ago to replace the one he lost before that. Now you can see why I wanted him to come along with his brand new camera. I wouldn't mind upgrading. The first critters we saw when we left the Grotto were a small school of barracuda. I'm really not afraid of anything like them, I always want to get closer so I can get a better picture. They are lightning fast though, and only come closer if they think you're not paying attentin to them. Then I spotted this green sea turtle sitting on the bottom just munching away on the algae. I tried keeping a good distance between us and coming down from behind him, but he got spooked anyway, and started swimming toward Mike. Needless to say I didn't get a very good shot of him, but I'm hoping Mike's video of him turns out good. This was all within the first 5 minutes of the dive, a very good sign that this was going to be a good dive. There was a pretty strong current outside the Grotto trying to blow us back toward the Grotto, so I just went with it and started slowly drifting back toward the fan coral cave. I was hovering just above the bottom so I could see what was hiding in the holes. Next, much to my surprise I saw this pinkish Leaf Scorpionfish. Up to now the only place I've seen them is Wing Beach, and they are usually a chocolate brown color. This one was definitely more colorful, and he was in a spot that I could get some good shots of him. He was wedged in between a couple rocks, but I had a good view looking down on him. I'd take a few pictures of everything, then turn it over to Mike to shoot some video of. While Mike was shooting the Scorpionfish (only with the camera settle down), I saw several octopus all tucked in various holes. I thought this one was going to come out of the hole and put on a show for me, but no such luck, he came out just far enough to tease. Now after seeing all those things, this would have been a great dive for most people, but it was really just getting good for me. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love taking pictures of nudibranchs. You also know that my some of my nudibranch pictures are going to be in a couple upcoming books about nudibranchs by renowned underwater photographers and authors. The nudibranch pictured above is a Halgerda guahan. I've also seen them a couple times, and before yesterday only had a handful of pictures of this particular species. There was one on the rock the rope attaches to in the Grotto on our dive yesterday, so I shot a couple hundred shots of it. Then today as we were coming across the bottom in the Grotto, both Mike and I started spotting several of them in various spots. I was shocked, I have never seen that many all in one spot before. We both took a ton of pictures of them, but we had been down quite a while and had quite a bit of decompression time to burn off, so we started heading back up to the safety stop rock. I thought I'd take a good look on the rock just in case there were any of them hanging out on the rock again, and sure enough, there were several. Since I had a bunch of deco time to burn off anyway, it was perfect, I could just sit there and snap away as many shots as I wanted. The Halgerda guahan only has the yellow lines on it, and doesn't have any yellow lines going around the rim of the animal. Then I spotted this Halgerda malesso also on the rock. The distinguishing factors of the malesso are the yellow or orange dots at the end of the yellow lines, it's gills are darker and it has two yellow lines running around the rim of the animal. They are both very distinctive and once you know what to look for, you know which one you're dealing with. I read that Halgerda guahan was only discovered in 1993, and that there was only one picture of them until the year 2000. Until I started getting lucky with them, there were still only a few people that actually had pictures of them, which is why my pictures were in such big demand for the photographers putting together nudibranch books. Today I took over 400 pictures of both the Halgerda guahan and Halgerda malesso. We also saw a few different pairs of them mating. Now I have seen two of them mating before, but 2 that was it. Now all the sudden, they were all over in the Grotto, and mating like there was no tomorrow. So is July 21st the official nudibranch mating day, or is it only for these two species of Halgerda? Does this have anything to do with the recent coral spawning? Or was it just because Greg sat this dive out and they all wanted their pictures taken? I don't know and I don't care what the reason was, but it was a morning like none other. And this was just the first dive of the day! Oh yes, there is more to come, much more. And we'll talk Greg pretending to be a good samaritan, talking to a Russian tourist, while he had me jacking her car up to change her tire. He may actually do a blog entry about the whole thing himself, and you can read it for entertainment sake if you'd like, but you can read the truth here. But that's going to have to wait until tomorrow, frankly I'm whipped after 3 Grotto dives today! After all, gotta rest up for a day full of dives again tomorrow. ### Being Paid by the Ocean for Cleaning Up! It's official, Axe Murderer Tours had it's second official diver yesterday. DJ, who lives in Japan and who found my blog on the internet contacted me about diving on Saipan, came and went diving with me Friday afternoon. We were hoping to do Wing Beach, but the waves there had other ideas, so we wound up at Grotto. He's an American who's been living in Japan for the past 12 years, and is an awesome guy and diver. If he ever contacts you about going diving on Saipan, I'd highly recommend him. The conditions at Grotto were perfect and we had a couple great dives. As we came back into the Grotto though, it was obvious that the Budweiser drinking pigs have been back. I'm fairly certain that no rational person would carelessly throw their empty Budweiser cans in the Grotto when finished with them, knowing how many tourists come here just to dive the Grotto and see the beauty of it underwater. Therefore I come to the conclusion that we must have a problem with pigs who have acquired a taste for Budweiser. Obviously pigs would not think about or care about the effect that throwing their empty cans in the Grotto would have, after all, they're pigs, they wallow in the mud and all. So even though I certainly done condone the action of the swine, I pick up after them in the Grotto and try to keep it looking clean for everyone who enjoys the Grotto as much as I do. Now you need to keep in mind that I do this every single time I dive the Grotto, look for the garbage the oinkers leave behind. So you wouldn't think there would be that much from one dive to the next, but you would be wrong. I picked over over a dozen cans, bottles, flip flops, gloves and a few other items we won't mention as well (garbage items lest anyone get the wrong idea). Anyway, after making a pretty thorough sweep of the Grotto, I went through the washing machine looking for garbage as well, yes it was that calm yesterday. After I had picked up some more garbage, DJ came up tapping me on the back and handed me a wet$20 dollar bill. After we got out of the water, he told me it was just floating behind me. Now was this the ocean's way of thanking me for taking all the garbage out of the Grotto, or was it just a clever ploy by DJ to slip me \$20 for the air fills and make me think he found it floating in the water. I'm not sure, and I don't think he's telling, but for now we'll assume it was the ocean showing it's appreciation. You know the old saying, good things happen to good people, well this time, something good even happened to me - so you just never know.
Anyway, my garbage bag was full when I got out of the water, and was a bit heavy to lug back up the steps at the Grotto, but trash belongs in the trash cans at the top of the Grotto, not in the water in the Grotto. Well it's time to go diving again, more pictures later I promise.

## Friday, July 20, 2007

### Life is Good, For Today Anyway!

Yes, I believe that today is going to be a good day, let me list the reasons for you that I believe such a thing:

- It's Friday!!!!!!!!! Really I could stop here and it would be enough.

- I got a hit on my blog this morning from Scotland. No, I don't know the person, but I don't care, it's from Scotland. My grandmother came from Scotland, she belonged to the McLeod clan. Very cool, I've been waiting for a Scotland hit for a month! I may have to have a glass of Scotch tonight to celebrate, want to join me?

- It appears the whole flap will now die down regarding Blogger Wars 07. I'm very thankful for that, it's been an exhausting week for me. I'm not thinking the nameless one and I are going to be best friends or anything, but I'll take peace and quiet.

- Axe Murderer Tours has it's next official guest today. I'm taking DJ, who lives in Japan out for a dive this afternoon. He found my blog online and sent me an e-mail asking me who he could hook up to go diving with. As if I'd ever pass up an opportunity for a dive. Well ok, there may have been one or two I've passed up, but that was different. (No, I don't really have a company called Axe Murderer Tours, just like I don't really have Harry's Crab Shack, so settle down Department of the Interior) But if I ever get the opportunity or find anyone crazy enough to want to go into a partnership with me, look out! And no Rev & Tax, I don't charge for my dive tours, so you can't tax me on them. Have we put enough disclaimers out there now?

-I could probably go on for a while, but you're probably sick of reading what I have to say this week anyway, so what do you say we swim with the fishes for a while? Here is some video of the fish ball at Lau Lau.

## Thursday, July 19, 2007

### Now I Did It!

It is with great fear and trepidation that I post another dive pic. Will I have done something wrong unknowingly? Will I have to face the wrath of those who are smarter and better educated than I? Will I not be named in another blog, but my pictures used to point out what an idiot I am, and then have a link back to my blog so everybody will know who I am anyway? It's questions like these that keep me awake at night, either that or it's that crab soup I had for dinner, but I'd rather blame all the questions running rampantly through my mind. But let me try to head off some of the controversy before it even starts, I had the flash on my camera turned off for this picture, I didn't want to unintentionally harm the vision of any of the fish, thus making them an easier target for a bigger fish who might have been looking for lunch. In case you're wondering why all these fish are turning themselves into a fish tornado, this is the big "fish ball" at Lau Lau. Why do they swim around in circles like this, all swimming in tight formation? Honestly I don't have a clue, but I'm sure those that are smarter and better educated than I would be more than happy to explain it to you. And by the way Shazam, I have posted some video of the fish ball on my smugmug site as well, it's in the other video's gallery. No Enviro-Nazi's are allowed to look at it though, again, it's for your own good!

Honestly the fish ball wasn't what I was going to talk about today, but I enjoy posting dive pics, well I used to anyway. Thanks to Angelo I found out about this thing called Extreme Tracker that you can put on your blog, and it gives you all this interesting information about all the people who visit your blog. I guess it could also be a bit scary and creepy, but right now I'm still thinking it's cool, well I was until I found out who has been visiting my blog. So I was looking at the last 20 visitors to my site this morning when I got to work, and seeing where they were all from. One of them was from the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. Great, now what have I done?

The whole post yesterday about pulling my cats tail off was a joke, I swear. And I'm not going to pull crabs tails off for Harry's Crab Shack, I promise. What am I saying, there is no Harry's Crab Shack, well not yet anyway. I have to admit, I love the idea of having a little restaurant\bar down on the beach by Lau Lau, and it could even be a combination dive shop. It's my dream, you just never know, one of these days it could happen. And I wouldn't decorate the walls with Tritan Trumpet shells, that was just a joke too, it would be decorated with my politically incorrect pictures. Even with my major screw up, I at least released the crabs alive and unharmed. Now I'm wondering if I'm on some "Wanted: Dead or Alive, but preferably dead" poster at the Department of the Interior. Am I in trouble for poking a little fun at people who might take their environmentalism to extremes, and are intolerant of anyone not as smart or educated as they are? I guess I could take back calling them Enviro-Nazi's if it would get me off the "Wanted" list. Yeah, I could do that, but I'm not going to.

Did I learn any lessons from that whole fiasco? Yes I did! Thanks to the blogger who shall forever remain nameless and linkless to me, I did learn a lot of facts about hermit crabs that I never knew before. I also learned from Mike that I really need to be careful about what I post because of the impact it might have on others. Thanks again Mike, that lesson will be forefront in my mind from this point forward, at least until senility wipes it from my memory banks. But at that point you're welcome to teach it to me all over again. I learned that I liked Mike's approach much better than the nameless bloggers approach, and found that I respond much better to that approach as well. I also learned that in spite of me being a diving dinosaur and not being as smart as some others, that there are those people out there that do enjoy my diving pictures and reading the ramblings of a nitrogen narcosis affected delusional old dive bum. I also learned that sometimes you have to come out of seclusion and retreat, and just blast back with a sense of humor and have some fun. If you can't laugh at the whole situation, you'll be on meds for depression before you know what hit you.

I bet I know how the Department of Interior got onto me, it was probably that darned dengre. I bet he was pissed about what I said about him yesterday and he turned me in hoping for a big reward from the Department of the Interior. He probably checked me out to see if I was indeed more qualified for the title of most evil, and should replace Bruce Bateman. If he checked with any current or past government official, I'm sure he was told that Bruce is a candy striper next to me. So he probably took it upon himself to try getting me locked up for environmental crimes committed in the name of Harry's Crab Shack. I'm guessing he probably doesn't have much of a sense of humor, so he really shouldn't have read yesterday's post, he was warned after all. Well ok, not by name, but that was my oversight. Anyway, if I all the sudden disappear from the face of the earth, anyone who actually likes me might want to come looking for me at the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. I'll probably be in some solitary holding cell reserved only for the most heinous of characters. Sure, just when my heart gets back in blogging, and now something like this happens. Oh well, it's almost the weekend, and that means more diving for me!