Monday, December 24, 2007

My first dives in over five weeks!

My friends Ross & Mary and I finally got out for some dives over the weekend. I only made Sunday's two dives and it was glorious to be back in the water. We headed into Exmouth Gulf for one exploration dive on a site we just selected randomly and one at an old favourite. The conditions were nearly perfect - flat water, pretty good viz and tons of marine life. The water isn't quite as warm as we like it, but it's getting there!

On the new site there were all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures - most of them extremely tiny! Of course there were nudibranchs and flat worms of all descriptions and these always capture a lot of my time underwater! We found several species that we don't think we've seen before along with a nice range of more common slugs.

I also found a small anemone at the base of a bommie that was just covered with shrimps and also had a pair of porcelain crabs, one big, one little. Both crabs were happily feeding - using their "catcher's mitts" to snag tasty tidbits from the water.

The second site is one we all love and it never disappoints. Mary found me a Halgerda tessellata right away. Finally one that wasn't 1/4 the size of my little nail AND wasn't deep in a hole - I was very happy!

Later in the dive she showed me another Halgerda - this one was a giant. It was showing off by rolling its mantle and giving us excellent views of its usually hidden bits. It also had its mouth out, clearly sensing or searching for something.

I returned the favour by taking Mary to see my buddy the jawfish. He's been there for two years now and he's still scary! As soon as he saw Mary approach, he did the spooky hover swivel he's very disconcerting and she wasn't game to get too close, I don't think!

While Mary was taking photos of this guy, I wandered to the next small bommie a few meters down. I never seem to get this far on my dives and, boy, was I glad I did! I found another specimen small white, as yet unidentified Chromodorid sp. This is the first time I've seen one of these in well over a year and it's only the second time ever. He was tiny and fast, only allowing one frame showing all of him instead of just him bum...

Dave and I are off to Perth later today to spend Christmas with the family and to pick up the new puppy. We are going to have a great time and my next entry will be all about it.

Have a very Merry Christmas and I hope the Santa-man is good to you all!

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