Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Boat Dive to Spotlight & Wing Beach Arch

Sunday afternoon Kelli & I took the Aquajet boat to Spotlight, which is on the cliff line right next to Bonzai cliff. It's a cave that goes back in under the cliff line, and there is a big hole in the table rock above the cave that allows a shaft of light to come down into the cave and create a spotlight effect. It's something that's very cool to see. Here you see Kelli right after she rolled off the boat, and yes the water really was that blue and clear, it was a gorgeous day to dive Spotlight.Here is the sight we saw as soon as we entered the cave set back into the cliff line. There was a beam of sunshine coming down through the water lighting up an 8 foot circle on the floor of the cave. You almost expected to find a pot of gold at the bottom of the beam, or some crystals that would open up the entrance to Superman's house, it just seemed that surreal.I kept trying to motion to Kelli to go and get in the light beam so I could take a picture of her in it, but I wasn't able to get my message across, so I had to settle for a shot of Mark Robertson in the light beam with his camera. I think there were an awful lot of pictures of me taking pictures of him taking pictures of me.This is what the hole at the top of the cave looked like that let the sun come streaming down into the cave. A cloud must have been passing over right then, or the water was all frothed up blocking the sun from coming through. It is also possible to do this dive by hiking down the cliff line to the hole in the table rock, then jumping down in through it. You want it to be pretty calm when you attempt it and getting out can be a bit tricky, but if you have half a mind to try it, this is the time of year when you can get away with it.After we started looking around a little bit inside the cave, we came across this big red lionfish, he was about 1 foot long and quite an impressive specimen. He was just floating idly near some rocks and was more than happy to let all of us take his picture.Then I discovered this very cool looking nudibranch on the side of a big rock inside the cave. It has characteristics similar to a Phyllidiella pustulosa, but it is also different. I've submitted it to http://www.nudipixel.net/ and am anxiously awaiting an ID from them. I think I added one more nudibranch to the species I've found so far on Saipan, but I need verification from them first.I found a little series of holes and caves going back in off the side of the main cavern, so of course I had to go exploring. As long as there is enough room for me to wiggle my body and tank through, I'll go in to take a look. This one went quite a ways back off to the side, and was pretty cool. This is looking out a hole from the side cave and seeing out the main entrance of the Spotlight cave.And while we were in the Spotlight cave, we saw another bunch of divers who had been brought out by boat coming toward the cave as well. It was kind of cool all the sudden seeing them descending down and heading toward the cave, it makes you feel as if you're being invaded by aliens or something.As I was looking over the coral on the walls, I came across these two Phyllidiella pustulosa nudibranchs. If you look closely at them, I think you can see some differences from the one I showed you earlier. Their little clusters of pustules are clearly separated from each other, unlike in the other nudibranch.And here you see Brad Derksen at the end of the dive checking his dive computer to see how much time he needs to burn off underwater before ascending to the boat. Brad was shooting video on the dive, so I'm looking forward to another one of his videos on his blog soon hopefully. For the boat ride and the dive at Wing Beach Arch, you'll have to wait for tomorrows blog.