Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Axe Murderer Tours Latest Victims

Common sense would dictate that one experience with an outfit with a name like Axe Murderer Tours, and you would learn your lesson. Not this guy, he actually willingly came back for a second helping. I took Don Hubner out diving last year sometime, we had a mutual friend who hooked us up. Last time he was here Don told us he couldn't handle spicey food, so I took him to Oleai Beach Bar & Grill right before the dive for chicken taquitos. It wound up wrecking his dive and cutting it short, but he contacted me before coming back again and said he wanted to go diving again. He was here for some meetings, so we went on night dives after his meetings and packed the 3 day weekend as full as we possibly could with dives.
We managed to get in 10 dives in 6 days, which is certainly not a record or anything, I managed to do 16 dives in 5 days in Bali, but it was a lot of dives, and I think I can safely say we are both dragging our tails today. We had an absolute blast though and managed to see some very cool things. Don is a Marine Biologist from Hawaii, and had 2 other Marine Biologists here with him, both of whom I also took out diving, Lance and Mark. One of the things that was a big bonus for me was being able to show these marine biologists something they'd never seen before. Lance had never seen a Hawksbill turtle before so on our Sunday morning dive I took them to Lau Lau and told them I'd find one for them. There are several spots they hang out and I can usually find them if I have enough time. However that means that I'm not wasting anytime, I'm making a beeline for all the usual turtle hangouts.
Kelli had also decided to go on this dive with us. I usually try to go on a slow, leisurely pace when she is along, but I was determined to find a Hawksbill turtle for Lance, so I wasn't wasting any time getting out there. I'm afraid I really gave Kelli a workout, but we did strike paydirt and found the big Hawksbill.
I'm sure there will be many stories told about this past weekends diving adventures, but for me it was just another weekend of sharing my passion of the underwater world with some new friends. You may come to Axe Murderer tours a stranger, but you'll always leave as a friend.

Haminoea cymbalum

I went back to Lau Lau yesterday with the sole purpose of finding the bubble shells that I captured in my pictures the day before. I knew where to look, it was the rocks right under the rope fairly soon at the beginning of the dive. I started looking hard at all the rocks when I got in the water, but couldn't find anything that even came close. I was bummed thinking that maybe catching the one was just a fluke. I talked to Deanna Tessen earlier in the day who told me that she and Keith found them in big numbers at Obiyan. So we went to Obiyan first, but I didn't find any there either. So Don and I went ahead and headed out for our dive. After he ran out of air and I got him back to the pipeline rope, I went back over to the other rope and continued looking for the gorgeous little bubble shells. As I was looking over one of the rocks, a little splash of color caught my eye, there were 3 of them crawling around in what looked like a tumbleweed attached to a rock.
They were definitely small, between 1/8th and 1/4 of an inch long, but it was clearly them. I was thrilled, I finally spotted the elusive little guys and now I was going to get some good pictures since I could see them. I had looked them up in one of my books the day before and discovered that they are called Haminoea cymbalum. It says their distribution range is from Indonesia to Hawaii. The description says it is a very beautiful shelled sea slug that is fairly uncommon, but when found it is usually in large aggregations down to 20 meters of water. That is the description given in Helmut Debelius' Nudibranchs and Sea Snails Indo-Pacific Field Guide.
I just kept staring at the little guys and was taking pictures. They are amazingly intricate and beautiful. This is actually considered a nudibranch, but one that has a fragile shell that it wraps around. I am always amazed when discovering something as tiny as this, and then wonder how many other cool things I overlook every single time I go underwater.
This gives me one more addition to my collection of nudibranchs and sea shells that I've photographed on Saipan. Truly a great dive!!!!