Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Divine Dive en la Noche...

David couldn't make it but Raul, Javier, Jeff and I and a technical diving guy we dove with for the first time all rounded up at El Natural at 6:30 for an evening dive. I'm showing Javier's hand signal right now for (bullshit)...we talked for awhile and entered the water around 7:15 maybe. We park at Israel's house and pay him 3 bucks to "watch the cars" but he and his family (very nice people) do far more than that...they keep a clear path to the beach, a cleared place to park, and they physically sit there and watch the cars so you can leave stuff in the back or whatever worry free. On one night dive they even came to the beach with a light when our group overshot the beach entrance! Nice people. And now....da da da...about the dive-that-David-shouldn't- have -missed... The sunset was spectacular first off, and then the dive started like most of them with a swim out to the reef, a descent into very clear turquoise water and the greeting by puffers and trunck fish etc with everyone getting ready for bed or feeding. Basket stars were unfurling, tangs were changing color and settling onto the bottom and eels were slithering out of cracks and crevices on the prowl. So what did we see? What DIDN'T we see would be a better question. We saw the usual players - Tang, both kinds of puffers (really adorable when the puffiness goes down after they have been puffed up), parrot fish making their bubbles, so many different kinds of fish I can't describe them. We had fun looking into the flats and into crevices and basically just looking a long ways in all directions! First up were a couple squid that were courting - they were changing colors and lining huge one and another smaller one. Then we saw a really neat slipper lobster and some big crab in nice large barrel sponges. Puffers, cow fish, huge file fish, soap fish...we turned up into the shallows after 50 minutes or so. The reef bottoms out at around 70 feet, then we hear there are sand flats and another reef that starts at 95 and ends at 150 starts up. We stay on the first one so we get our 80 something minute dive in! After turning into the shallows we see a frantic light shake and we zoom over and find not one, but 3 turtles (two different kinds) in the undercut area. We watch for a long time and another one shows up. Now we have had almost an hour and think that is the highlight when "shake shake shake" with the lights and there is a good size nurse shark that cruises to another undercut. In a caverny area nearby is another smaller one. Just before the sharks we see our first "pulpo" or octopus...not huge like the Giant Pacific Octopus but still smart and interesting. And before that we saw another big turtle with barnacles on its back. We must be at the end now. Another 15 minutes or so go by and another light shake...this time it is a really big southern stingray that cruises my way. As I am examining it and thinking of lifting it up to see the mouth I see the very long, barbed and piercing tail and decide to move aside. In Washington death-by-six gill shark would have been alright, but hey...I just got here and am loving it! I was born to be here! After watching the sting ray for a while I looked in a few more crevices and saw a little turtle (butt and back fins sticking out), my bottom time was 85 minutes and although I wasn't cold I figured it was best to end the dive after the stingray (better dreams that way)! So with 1000 pounds left and images of cool big things in my small mind I left the water thinking wow - too bad we have to come up... and also thinking wow....I get to do this again in a day or so! So what's next? Jobos (Shacks/caverns) at 9am on Sunday. Who knows what we will see!

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