These guys will grow up to be trouble

Squishy

My last dive at the celebrated Gordon Rocks site in the Galapagos Islands was hijacked by thousands of these little bastards.

Juvenile jellyfish (or so I’m told). Not much sting to them, unless they hit really soft skin on the face, but they were enough to drive away almost all other sea creatures.

A combination of very weird currents (and, I should say, weird for Gordon Rocks, which always had interesting currents that shift by the hour) created something of a dead zone in the middle of the site, which is a collapsed volcano cone. The result was a limbo that was hospitable to these tiny jellyfish, which were no bigger than half my thumb.

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Tales of shark tails

Not for consumption

A hiding white tip reef shark leaves its tail exposed for all of us to gawk at. Found off Daphne, Galapagos Islands.

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A big swarm of barracuda

Swarm

Predatory schooling fish? Yes. Dangerous in any way? No.

Meet a battery of barracudas swimming through a school (though not very visible, really just green specks) of juvenile jellyfish. I’ve seen Great Barracuda (more than a meter long) hunting at night in Thailand and it truly an awesome spectacle.

These come from my final dive off Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands. That day few other fish — and sadly no hammerheads — were seen due to conflicting currents and a swarm of thousands upon thousands of the young jellies.

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Green (turtle) on blue (sea)

Howdy turtle

A cruising Green Turtle at Daphne, a dive sight north of Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands. The ocean — particularly at this depth of about 20 meters — is really a green-blue place, devoid of a lot of other colors.

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In the Galapagos, Green turtles are cheap and easy

Tortugas verde

Before my diving in the Galapagos, I had only seen two sea turtles in more than 60 dives. For me they were a rare and beautiful sighting. After all there are only seven species and all of them are endangered.

But in the Galapagos, where charismatic megafauna are disinterested in divers and easy to spot, Green Turtles became almost an every-dive occurrence. Lots of them to go around (again, this is an isolated feature of the Galapagos Islands) and therefore my notion of them as extra-special sightings was dispelled.

These two come from my final day of diving off Daphne, an easy and celebrated dive spot north of Santa Cruz.

I won’t likely have as much luck when I head back to the Andamans for serious dive training in two weeks; so enjoy the turtle photos while they last.

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He’s really just trying to get himself stuck

Shy little guy

Not all pufferfish are the porcupine-esque versions, popularized by Finding Nemo, that everyone thinks of when they think of blowfish.

They’re sometimes rather timid. Not skittish, per say, but just retiring. Like this guy, found trying to wedge himself into some rocks on a dive off Daphne, Galapagos Islands. Too bad he’s also bright yellow and therefore not greatly camouflaged.

Also, for the record, they rarely expand just because you get close. This is more of a last-ditch defense mechanism done only in the face of great stress. When divers do set off this defensive mechanism for sport (typically by actually grabbing the fish), some biologists believe they can do serious harm.

I’m of the “look but don’t touch” philosophy underwater.

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So long, 2010; it’s been nice knowing ya…

Well, hello there 2011. You’ve got a hell of a lot to live up to.

As most people know, I started my whirlwind trip in late summer of 2009 and things haven’t really gone bad yet.

I started 2010 in the remote paradise of the Andaman Islands, far off India’s coast. I had just learned to dive and fell in love with the sport. Fish are friends, not food.

Continue reading this entry » » »

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Hammerhead, vol. 5

Headed right for me

This photo should have been better, but alas, when the perfect dive finally came, my camera screen was already flooded. Hence the blind shooting. This is also low light, because I’m down at about 27 meters. Ended up in “deco,” divespeak for too deep, too long.

There’s also a brief moment of panic, when an 8-foot shark (though one with a relatively small mouth) swims straight at you as though you’re not even there.

But there’s no danger with the scalloped hammerhead. In fact, he’s endangered, because humans are pretty much assholes when it comes to treating sharks nicely.

Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands.

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Hammerheads, vol. 4

Cruising

Profile of a scalloped hammerhead, Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands.

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Hammerheads, vol. 3

Shark from above

This guy came in nice and close. I gave chase, but alas, the scalloped hammerhead is a shark in his element. And I’m just a human pretending to be a fish.

Another fantastic dive at Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands.

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