Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Virtual Dive

Since I didn't get a chance to go diving last weekend (so what if I went twice last Thursday, it didn't count), I thought I'd take you on a virtual dive today. This is the whole reason I got into digital underwater photography, to be able to share all the amazing things I see with those of you who can't go with me every dive. I love this picture, it's like Mr. & Mrs. shark holding hands, or fins in their case, just hanging out in the Grotto. These are some of the resident white tip reef sharks that always seem to be somewhere in the Grotto. They have always been friendly enough when I'm taking pictures. There was the one time that one of them bit my flashlight, but I wasn't even taking their picture then, so we'll just ignore that one little blemish on their record.

Without a doubt, my favorite underwater critters have to be the turtles. They are just such graceful and majestic creatures. When they are swimming and gliding through the water, it's like they own the ocean. When they allow you to take a journey with them, it's totally an otherworldly experience. And as long as you can keep from swimming into a big rock or chunk of coral head first, because you're too busy looking at the turtle to pay attention to where you're going, you'll absolutely love it. I would love to be able to paint pictures of them or draw them, but I have no talent in that area at all, so I have to settle for taking their pictures. But God's handiwork is hard to improve on anyway, so I'm happy to just capture them on the camera. By the way, this little Hawksbill turtle lives at Lau Lau Bay.

For the longest time I thought this was some kind of egg sack at Wing Beach. But I could never see anything developing inside them, and they always seemed to stay about the same size. I watched them over the period of a couple months before my Marine Biologist dive buddy Greg Moretti finally identified it as a fairly uncommon type of coral, Plerogyra Sinuosa. It likes to be where there is fast moving water and strong currents, which would explain why you can find several clusters of it on the wall at Wing Beach. This is a great picture to zoom way in on to look at the detail on each one of those sacks. I actually had this picture blown up to an 11" x 14" and have it hung on my wall at home.

This is one of the magnificent big orange sea fans inside the Grotto. If you don't have a flashlight with you on the dive, you will never realize that these fans have such vibrant colors. I love photographing them with the ocean blue background. This particular one has a little yellow coral sponge attached to it, just adding one more splash of color. There are several little caves and swimthroughs outside the Grotto that have these fans lining their walls, making it seem like you're swimming through some kind of fantasy world. And people really can't understand why I like to spend as much time as I possibly can down there?

This is a very common sight to anyone who has done much night diving out here. Usually the parrotfish will find a nice little hole to sleep in, where they are protected from predators. This one however fell asleep right out on the open sand. Parrotfish sleep at night with their eyes open, and they will blow a bubble around themselves, which is supposed to help protect them from predators. You can go right up to the fish and touch it, as it is soundly asleep. But beware when it wakes up suddenly, it might come slamming into you. Just think how you would react if you were jolted out of a peaceful sleep. This parrotfish was in the sand fingers at Lau Lau.

And for our final stop on today's dive, we'll check out this colorful stonefish I stumbled across on a night dive at Lau Lau. Most of the stonefish I have seen previously were a brownish color, and seemed to totally blend in with their surroundings, making them very difficult to spot. This one stood out like a sore thumb though it was so bright and colorful.

I could keep doing this all day long, but unfortunately I just noticed that you are low on air, therefore I'd better get you back up to the surface before you're having to breathe on my spare regulator. I hope you've enjoyed this little virtual dive though. If you'd like to see more pictures from my dives, go to http://www.saipandiver.smugmug.com/ Check out the underwater album. Let me know when you get your tank refilled and let's do this again!