Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I went diving!

I find it mildly pathetic that this is news considering where I live and what my day job is, but this has been a dismal year again for my dive numbers.  On the upside, every dive I've done has been incredible and I have yet to do a dive here where I haven't seen something new - and considering we've lived here in Exmouth since 1999, that's pretty cool!

The two dives on Monday were my first since early November and I so needed to be underwater.  There was so much activity on the reef and the visibility, especially on the second dive, was fabulous.  The nudibranch population has exploded and there are 100s covering the sites - regulars and some less common ones.  There also seem to be tons of new shrimps and crabs tucked into corals.  Did I mention that I had a great time?

This dime-sized crab was tucked all down in the branches of a small coral.  I love his blue eyes!  I've been too lazy to look him up to see what his real name is, so I just call him Frank (get it?!?)

This blue spotted ray was all tucked down in a small canyon between two bommies. I watched 5 divers swim over him and not even notice him - crazy how well he blends in with those bright blue spots!

We seem to have had a batfish explosion, too. They are everywhere. In small groups, rubbing on the sand, hogging the cleaning stations. This one was a bit of a sticky beak

I saw a group of our divers go past as I was looking at a patch of reef simply covered in an astounding variety of little critters. She had mentioned how much she wanted to see nudibranchs so when I found a totally funky guy and saw her and her buddy underwater, I waved them over. Tamora & Ryan, these next few are for you (sorry it's taken so long!)
Okenia mellita nudibranch

He wasn't interested in spectators so turned his best side to us and crawled away

This sparkly shrimp is tiny. He was the largest of the six or seven shrimps I found in this bubble coral; I think there were two or three different ones in there but we had a little current and it was too much effort to try to take shots of the smaller ones!

I have never seen so many of these spikey orange nudibranchs as on Monday's dives. Before these dives I would have classed this as yet unnamed species of Janolus as rarely sighted. But they were everywhere on both dive sites and in all sizes and on all manner of background, from sand to reef to weed to ascidians and sponges. Crazy.

Sitting right under one of the spikey guys was this sea spider carrying eggs. He never did turn around to show me his face, though

A couple more nudis for Tamora...
Phyllidia oscellata

Tambja morosa - why do they always have to be under a ledge where some fish or ray has been kicking up sand?? This was the greenest one I have ever seen. His green colour was even clearly visible underwater!

All of our sites are covered in these little hawkfish and I don't usually take many photos of them anymore, but they're just so irresistible when they roll their googly eyes around.

There were quite a few cooperative fish on both sites. Posers!
Coral cod

Semi-circular angelfish


Big cod

he was extremely mellow

Threadfin pearl perch

Peeking goby

And then there are the fish that just insist on being center stage, even when you have no interest them. This emperor angelfish kept swimming in front of my lens

as I was trying to take a photo of this brilliantly yellow snail guy

The cleaning stations are always active so I didn't spend much time at them Monday. But sometimes you just gotta grab a quick shot when the cleaner wrasse are on a rankin cod's lip & in its gills!

And for all I saw, there is probably a hundred times that amount that I didn't see. Like this eensy nudibranch hiding up under a bit of a ledge while I was trying to get a face shot of this new to me sea snake

I've only seen this sea snake a couple of times and am still not sure what he is. I didn't get a good shot of his face on this dive - maybe enough for an ID, but I'm more upset that I didn't see the nudi until I downloaded onto the computer!

Oh well, I guess that just means I have to do more dives and try again!

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