Mantas of Yap Part 1 of 3 - First Dive

Gordon pointed to a spot and raised both palms and patted the water in a downward motion. This was my signal that this was my spot and that I was to lie down on the bottom. Lying prone at 76 feet in the middle of Miil Channel at Manta Ridge I felt more like a hunter waiting for prey to amble into our lethal trap than a scuba diver.

Looking to my right Mary was intently willing her eyes to see beyond what was humanly possible. Looking behind me Gordon was hovering with his fin tips barely touching the sand. Giving me the okay sign he pointed two fingers to his eyes and then swept a pointed finger in the direction of the current.

Twilight in the Islands

Twilight is a most enchanting time in the islands; the briefest of moments between the last breath of light and birth pains of darkness. A magical moment where primal urge drives one to waters edge, eyes, and hearts intensely fixated on the yellow orb, as if the mystery has yet to be solved. Reverent silence ensues as shadows flirt with fading light; a final flash signals defeat as the smoldering flame majestically merges with the sea. Darkness is born and night embraces the island.

Web Burrfish - Bizarre But Cool

On top of a sandy ledge near Saba we found this Web Burrfish willing to pose for us.  To describe this fish you would have to use the word bizarre. The piercing iridescent eyes, bright yellow spines with reticulated pattern on it's back and sides make this boxy fish one of my favorite bizarre fish.  And I think you would agree, he is a really cool looking fish!

Students Learn About the Ocean Floor

Through Mary and I have had the pleasure to support many projects in our public schools that help to educate children about the oceans of the world.  In partnership with other Ocean bloggers and the Oceans in the Classroom Initiative we have fully funded science projects from ocean floor spreading in Arkansas to invertebrate aquariums in Texas and breaking science news in Michigan.  Kids are learning science of the ocean and we love receiving letters and photos from the children.  Below is an update from Mrs. D's 6th grade class in Arkansas and photos of the children working with their sea floor spreading toolkit.

Dream Maker Octopus

Sama pointed to a cluster of rock at about 60 feet and when I circled around to where he was pointing all I saw was a swarm of wrasses. Looking over at Sama I hunched my shoulders and he pointed again at the spot directly in front of me. That is when I saw it, the outline of the octopus pressed against the rock.

Mary and I were diving from Wananavu, Fiji, at a site called Dream Maker at Thakau Vatu Latha or Sail Rock Reef. Comprised of five large coral heads, with caves and swim-throughs, the site is filled with soft corals called dendronepthia (carnation coral) in bright colors of yellow, purple and pink. On the edges of the site schools of snapper and sharks can be seen swimming against the current.

Peleliu Corner - Adrenaline Rush of Reef Hook Diving

Peleliu Corner is where Peleliu Expressway and Peleliu Cut merge and the ocean currents converge into the most extreme ripping current you will encounter as a diver. There is a reason they call part of this dive Expressway and that is because if you cannot hook in you are most definitely taking an expressway out to open ocean. U.S. Coast Guard approved transponders and safety sausage were required on this dive for good reason.

We had descended along Peleliu Wall down to about 104 feet. Our plan was to follow the wall for part of the dive slowly ascending to the top of the reef. Once we were given the signal by the dive guide we were to pop over the top of the wall as a group and hook in. When it was time to end the dive the dive guide would give us another signal and then, as a group, we would unhook and sail down the plateau out to open ocean where our boat would be waiting.

Upsidedown Jelly

Did you hear the story about the winner of a competition for what was billed the "best job in the world". Ben Southall was stung by a deadly jellyfish, called an irukandji, while getting off a jetski at Hamilton Island in Whitsundays. The bloke beat out 34,000 other people to get this dream job and almost dies from the sting of a jellyfish no bigger than your fingernail. As they say in Australia, no worries, he made out okay and I am sure he is getting his share of shouts at the pub these days.

When you think about jellyfish I bet you picture in your mind a deadly killing machine such as the lethal box jellyfish, Portuguese Man-of-War or the feared irukandji, but you probably never think about the benign upsidedown jellyfish as pictured in the black and white photo above.