Walls, Washing Machine and Whales

seaGoddess2

Red-Tipped Sea Goddess

This was the day of diving on planes. We dove two crashed planes today. The first was a small Cessna that was mostly intact. It rested on the bottom, not far from an old fashion anchor that was said to have belonged to Blackbeard the Pirate. The anchor was teetering on the edge of a wall, a spot in the ocean where the sea floor drops away abruptly. The top of the wall was around 80′ deep and the bottom, I’m told, is around 3,000′. Swimming over the edge is an odd experience. No matter how certain I am that I’m floating in the water, neutrally buoyant and not moving up or down, when the ground falls away, there’s a moment of fear that I’ll fall away with it.

The second dive of the day was also on a wall, but this one had an interesting twist. Swimming across the reef, we found a large hole, similar to an elevator shaft, going down about 20′. At the bottom, the hole made a 90 degree turn, went forward ten feet and spit us out over a wall. Going through it felt like something from Super Mario Brothers. Cheesy 8-bit music played quietly in my head as I swam back up the wall. Once on top, we found a large spiny puffer under a rock barely big enough to hide it and a golden crinoid. This was the first crinoid I noticed on a dive. When I saw it, I thought it was a brittle star, but had too many legs. There’s a certain joy in finding a creature you’ve never seen before, then searching to find what it is.

brittlestar

Brittle star inside a sponge

The third dive of the day was at a site called the Washing Machine and it delivered exactly what the name promised. We all jump into the water in rapid succession and swam towards a cut between two islands. The current flowing through the cut washed against a slight rise and tumbled any divers (or fish) end over end. I’m used to having to fight against the current, so when I started getting flipped over, I tried to stay upright, then remembered this was the main reason for the dive and allowed myself to be flipped twice. The rest of the dive zipped by as the current continued to push us quickly over small separate coral heads. When there was something to look at, we would kick hard against current and almost be able to stay in one place. Inside one of the large barrel sponges, there was a small brittle star. Everything else was a blur.

As we continued to make the crossing back towards Nassau, we saw two more dolphins playing beside the boat. They didn’t stay long, only ten seconds or so, but it was longer than the pilot whales we saw in the distance. They surfaced just long enough to be seen, then ducked back under the water. Even so, it was amazing to see them.

bandedShrimp

Banded coral shrimp

We started the day on a plane wreck and ended it on one as well. This time we went back to the Smugglers’ Plane for a night dive. It was amazing to see the different creatures that were out once the light went away. I was one of the first divers in the water and was greeted by a large sting ray directly under the boat. When I looked under the plane, there was a lobster staring back at me. There were more rays and lion fish out tonight than any other dive on this trip.

As more divers got in the water, the small plane got crowded with lights sweeping over and under all parts. To avoid getting kicked, Dom and I went away from the plane with one other diver we were paired with on this dive. The three of us tried to see bioluminescence by turning off our lights and waving our hands through the water. I’m sure, if any of the other divers noticed us, we look weird. It was still too bright so see any glowing microbes, so we flicked out lights back on. When we did, the krill started swarming around the beams. We sat on the sea floor with out lights in front of us, the krill gathered and soon the squirrel fish gathered to catch the krill. This was cool to see, but also bizarre because for a few seconds after the fish swam through the light, they couldn’t see anything. One even ran into my arm. It was a memorable way to end a great day of diving and the last full day of the trip.

dusters

Feather duster worms with a fellow diver in the background

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2 Responses to Walls, Washing Machine and Whales

  1. ed says:

    Nicely done. Great photos.

    • twsobey says:

      Thanks. I’m pleased with how the duster photo came out. I wasn’t expecting much when I took it, but it turned out good enough that I’ll probably print it.

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