Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sunday Morning in the Grotto

This is a sight I love to have greeting me as come down into the Grotto, an empty rock not full of tourists and very calm conditions in the Grotto. You can see one of the exit holes from the Grotto leading into the open ocean where the light blue is at the top of the picture. You know the way sometimes you just have a feeling everything is going to fall into place and be perfect? Well that's the feeling I had as I hit the Grotto Sunday morning. I was by myself so didn't have to worry about watching anyone else, and I could just spend all the time I wanted looking in every little hole. Even after thousands of dives, I still find myself in awe at just how amazing the scenery is under water, I never get tired of it, and can never get enough of it. As it turns out I didn't have the Grotto all to myself after all, there were a group of Japanese divers already underwater so I followed them out hole #1, then quickly passed them and took off in search of new discoveries. Visibility was pretty good and the sun was shining lighting up all the coral and bringing out the vibrant colors in the shallow waters.
I always enjoy taking a closer look at these yellow crinoids, especially when contrasted against the blue background of the open ocean. Here we have two different color crinoids both perched atop a sponge formation. These crinoids, or feathered sea stars feed by extending their arms and collecting microscopic nutrients floating in the water. This crinoid must have been hungry as was completely unfurled and had all his arms extended. This is another of my favorite subjects, the elusive and skittish hawkfish. They seem perfectly content to sit in one spot and just pose for you, right up until you point the camera in their direction that is. You need to have a quick trigger finger and move slowly in order to get in position for the right shot for these guys. I just like the color and the look of this little fish, they are typically only about 2" long. Then as I came back in the #2 hole of the Grotto, I spotted this Halgerda malesso just hanging out. I guess the current must have made him lose his grip on the rock, and he was just holding on by his front edge. I usually see a lot more Halgerda guahan than I do malesso, so it's always a treat when I spot one of these guys. It's even better when they're in a spot allowing me to get some of the blue open ocean behind them. As I left the first Halgerda malesso, I was looking on the boulders that were close and I spot another malesso, this one by some of the coral fans. Each of them seems to have a distintive pattern much like our fingerprints. I believe you could individually identify them by their pattern, and keep track of the travels if you were so inclined. I saw probably close to 20 Halgerda guahan and malesso on this dive, a very large number. I didn't see any of them mating or any egg ribbons though, I think their mating season has passed. These two white tip reef sharks were in one of their usual spots and just seemed to be begging me to take their picture. I think there may be a little jealousy over all the attention the nudibranchs have been getting, and the sharks wanted some camera time too. All in all it was a another truly magical dive. I hope you enjoyed your virtual Grotto dive, since I know this is as close as some of you ever get.