Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blackwater Dive 6-17-09

Wednesday 6-17-09
Company: Big Island Divers
Boat: Moana Olapa
Capt: Russell Brown
Divemaster: Joshua Lambus
Location: No GPS
Current Strength: Moderate to Strong
Highlights: Large schools of squid, Snake Mackerel, Venus girdle, Large siphonophores, Pyrosomes.

After a great manta show in shallow we dropped off our manta-only folk and then the adventurous/crazy/dumb divers ,myself included, head out into the dark. Yet another night without a GPS but none have been disappointing, so I guess we've been guessing right. It is hard to miss way out here though. When I got in I noticed the tethers were not hanging in there usual straight down position, the wind was up this night, and I had known before getting in this would make it hard to keep up with the boats movement. A diver lost a fin getting in so I swam into the dark by myself to retrieve it and bring it back to her. Then Russ began flashing a light off the side of the boat in my direction a little while later. I surfaced, and was told a diver had lost a light and it was drifting away fast. Of course it was. I looked around and saw it out in the dark, At least 50 yards from the boat already. I can’t say I didn’t contemplate just letting it go and hoping we found it after the dive. But under my divemasterly duties, I ran it down and then turned around and made the very long swim back to the boat. Once we had settled into place we began our dive looking for what we came for. The current was moving things past us very quickly and we had to be keen in our search so as to find things far in front of us and get a better look at it. I struggled to stay ahead of the group so if I saw anything of interest, i could have more time with it, as well as show it to the other divers. The heteropods are still in abundance. And tonight there were squid everywhere. It was one of the first things I saw. Throughout the dive they would dart into the group then back out again, sometimes they would just hover amidst us, before rocketing away, or inking. At one point in the dive one of the squid froze in a diver’s beam of light and began inking... and inking... and inking. It didn’t move at all... just inked. Eventually it moved off into the dark giving little ink squirts as it went. We had a couple of very long siphonophores, one at least 10ft, and the other about 20ft. A venus girdle moved through the group. We also saw many Pyrosomes. One of the girls looked through my photos and said she believes she saw a brotuloteania, but I did not see it (But there's lots of things I don't see but am sure are out there every night). The highlight of my night was a large fish I had never seen before, maybe 3 to 4 feet long. It swam underneath me only about 3 feet away, coming into view in my periphery, scaring the hell out of me. The animal looks like a mixture of fish I’ve seen before. Its Head looks like that of a barracuda, it body that of a large needle fish, or cornet fish. I believe this is a fish identified by Matthew J D'Avella as a Snake Mackerel. After my initial surprise faded, I took aim with my camera and fired. The strobe flashed brilliantly against its silvery skin, and in a flash just as quick, the fish sped off into the night. A beautiful and new addition to my blackwater memories.


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