There's something in the water
27.10.2012 30 °C
Drifting into consciousness at 5am listening to the tropical downpoor hitting the tin roof and splattering into the mud below I reluctantly crawled out of my cosy mossie net, downed a quick coffee and kitted up for my first dive at 6.45. As the boat pulled out of our secluded bay the rain seemed to be enjoying a lull in its otherwise full schedule, but pearly grey clouds still loomed over us during the journey out to our first survey site - ‘Conception Island North Point’.
There must be something in the water – yes there definitely was – swarms of little stingers ready and waiting as we rolled in and descended into what was otherwise some ‘sweet sweet’ visibility! Perhaps the underwater world senses the heavens falling from the sky; just ten minutes into the dive my buddy Laetitia amazingly spotted a graceful tentacle swirl and we were lucky enough to catch an elegant octopus gliding its way up a rock in the shallows. Orangey-red at this moment, it almost immediately mirrored the grey-brown mottled appearance of the rock surface and morphed itself into a perfectly calm and camouflaged sitting statue for the next five minutes. Not able to leave our fish point count we continued tallying surgeon, angel, snapper, grouper, butterfly and bristletooth fish while sneaking a peek at our eight-legged friend every few seconds until it suavely slid over the edge of the rock out of sight.
An inquisitive bat fish came as close as any fish had dared to me before, almost nibbling my arm and fin like he was trying to introduce himself – I later find out that he was probably just keen for some tasty waste products to come floating by!
The second dive of the day promised even better vis – we could tell from the boat – the coral just looked pristine, shiny-new, somehow brighter and deeper than previous days and we could see for what seemed like miles across the vast Bay Terney reef. It’s days like these when it’s just a race against a 45 bottom time to take in even a fraction of this underwater rainbow of life.
Boom! Spotted my first nudibranch of 2012 in between a couple of rocks – don’t think I’ll ever loose fascination with these plasticine-like illuminous patterned little splodges on the reef. Its lilac blue edges turned into a black and white main body colour decorated with red-orange spots like it was taken straight out of a childrens’ colouring book.
On ascent the most enormous porcupine fish appeared; I could still make it out on our safety stop a good 7m above below – stretching a sizable 60-70cm in length it boasted a big puffed out balloon shaped grey-green body covered in spines and big, narley, unforgettable eyes.
Elated with two stunning dives under my belt before 9.30am I arrived back on the surface but didn’t make dry land as the heavens continued to throw it down. Of course the van didn’t start so I popped my ‘van jump starting’ cherry (with trailer attachment) and had to leave the engine running while getting soaked for the third time this morning (though this time fully clothed) to load up everyone’s scuba kit.
Barefooting the puddles in camp turned into an exercise in wading through mini rivers; even the resident cows caught a bit of rainy day fever wondering out in front of the van and tossing their heads in response to the crazy insects buzzing around in their element.
The rest of the day consisted of fruit picking, coconut harvesting and cracking, enjoying a huge loopy end-to-end rainbow above camp, studying bar stock-take spreadsheets, reading the new ‘PADI Underwater Journal’ and seeing how much mud we could survive, topped off with good old desert island shepherd’s pie.
Thanks tropical stormy weather for an absurd but totally magnificent day in the Indian Ocean.