Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blackwater Dive 6-12-09

Friday 6-12-09
Company: Big Island Divers
Boat: Moana Olapa
Capt: Mike Mayne
Divemaster: Joshua Lambus
Location: GPS was not on
Current Strength: Light
Highlights: Cookie Cutter, Jacks, Squid, Brotuloteania, Lots of Heteropods.

Tonight my GPS' batteries were dead, so we were flying blind. As we left the harbor we could see at least 3 fishing boats in the distance. This was a concern for me since they tend to be in the habit of attracting large fish, and the last thing I am wanting to see on a blackwater dive is well.... A BIG fish! Once we decided we had reached at a suitable and found a suitable spot I noticed two more fishing boats. I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous on this particular night, 3 miles off-shore, 7000ft of water beneath us, and 5 fishing boats in the surrounding area, possibly all chumming the waters, and us right smack dab in the middle. Oh, joy. Once we got underwater I did my usual "scary things sweep" and then got on with my "crazy critter" hunt. Initially there was no current, and barely anything was to be seen. Soon came the usual string of siphonophores, salps, and ctenophores. Also there were heteropods everywhere. It got to the point that I was wishing they weren’t there so I could see more easily the more rare and unusual animals. We had 4 divers in the water including myself. Part way through the dive two large Jacks swam by, I couldn't be sure but they looked like GTs. Many times throughout the dive a cloud of squid ink would float by. I could only imagine the Jack's were having a calamari breakfast. At one point in the dive, a group of about 20 squid came into view in front of me and darted back and forth in my light. As soon as they showed up they were gone. Non e of the other divers had seen the squid despite my attempts to get their attention. A while later, a heteropod that was cut in half drifted by and cause me to turn around. There in front of me was the highlight of my night. A beautiful fish, with many flowing appendages, colored shades of yellow, orange, and green. The closest thing I could describe this as is a graceful peacock of the seas. I've seen this animal twice before, and have been told this is a fish in the genus Brotuloteania. I followed it into the dark until I realized was alone in the dark far from the group. After that we also saw a venus girdlle curled into a marvelous, technicolor, rolled sash. As the dives came to an end the sounds of dolphins filled out ears. As i peered out into the darkness in search of that familiar dolphin shape, I saw a reflective green orb that I knew to be the eye of a Cookie Cutter shark. Sure enough as it move closer it revealed itself as such. The smallest brasiliensis I’ve seen, it was probably less than a foot long. It was probably less then a foot long. It moved towards the group and then descended under us disappearing into the dark. That was the last thing we saw on the dive. We exited the water and began our journey home all stunned and in awe of the wonderful creatures we had the privileged to encounter.


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