Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jan DiveTrip to Mindoro "Trumpet, Eels, Pipes & Scallops" Day 7`

21 Jan 2011, Friday
Day 7

We put in a total of well over three hours under the waves today. For the first time ever we did three dives in one day. I had mentioned it last night sitting here on the veranda that it would be really cool to do three dives in one day. Don thought about it for a while and remarked that he never had either, so today we did.

First dive was at 9:30, the second started at 1230 and the final began at 3:15. Each one lasted right about an hour or more. On top of that I put my stepdaughter on my buddy regulator and was I ever surprised at how she took to it. She easily breathed underwater, floating on the surface at my side.

All three of the dives pretty much mirrored each other. Don feels comfortable going straight out to the primary buoy located at 35 feet down right on the edge of the down slope. He takes a break before heading east, down and along the underwater ridge where so many fish hang out. When one of us gets down to 1600 lbs of air pressure we start heading back the way we came. Each dive we porpoised along the cliff face anywhere from 40 to 60 feet. That’s pretty much where all the sea life hangs out.

A few of the interesting things I saw today:

A round clam-like creature (maybe its a clam?) with yellow, white and blue mottled flesh in its maw was on a cliff face. I noticed it as I approached with video already running. I knew it would probably close up as I got close so that’s what I did
getting it all on video. The shell, about a foot or more across, has rows of warts running from a central point at its hinge ending at short spikes or spines on the leading edges of the maw. Once closed it looks like just another nondescript old shell, camouflaged with silt and seagrowth, like hundreds of others out there.

(Actually, I have two videos of two of these bivalve type mollusks, the second being rather fleeting. I'm fairly certain now that these are a type of rock scallop, although I'm still not certain. If anyone can point me in the right direction, please do.)

I noticed two moray eels, one quite large based on the size of its head, which was a little larger than my hand; while the other smaller one was probably a fifth the size of the larger. They like dark holes and overhangs to hide out in. The large one’s eyes shown luminescently from back in its cave, kind of creepy and very cool.

The lion fish continue to be everywhere I look. From my numerous photos and videos I’m realizing how many variations of color and pattern there are. I took a picture of one on my third dive today that resembles a zebra’s white and black markings.

Saw the first trumpet fish I’ve seen in several trips back here. It was at a 20 foot safety stop on the way in at the end of our third dive. This one is dark with a
yellow tail. They are a very wary fish; they tend to hide under and around large rocks with deep overhangs and caverns. In the video it almost doubles back on its own body when it is about to run into the side of the tiny overhang cave, forming its body momentarily in a “u” much to my delight as it returns to me for an even better shot in my view finder. The shape of them fascinates me, with their long slender stick body and extended snout and tiny odd shaped mouth at the end of it. I wonder what they eat.

Under the same rock I noticed a pair of delightful little sea serpents. They actually resemble trumpet fish in that their bodies are also long with elongated seahorse-looking heads; although these fish have bodies that seem even more flexible than the trumpet fish, more like a snake the way they make themselves wriggle in tiny “s’s.” Their color is magically luminous; from just in front of its round white tail, it is encircled by dark and yellow stripes, alternated, just like the banded rings on a coral snake. With its round white tail, centered with a red dot, kept perpendicular to the seafloor, they resemble tiny wriggling darts.

We’re not sure how much longer this resort will remain open. Since our first stay here back in May of 2010 it is slowly losing the amenities it used to offer. At this time there is no dive boat, no dive master, no internet, no TV, no restaurant (or at least no cook), and no hot water. Belen, used to manage it, but now some absentee manager named Louie out of Manila claims to be the manager and who knows what he’s been doing, perhaps presiding over the demise of the place?

To make my point, just a few minutes ago, while the sun was still beautifully setting, a young European couple was turned away because Belen had already gone home. Unbelievably, she is the only one allowed to check folks in. The guard had to tell them to come back tomorrow (They never did).

Heck, the first two days after we got here stormy seas deposited a thick layer of flotsam on the slack water corner of the jetty only ten yards from our door. Five days later that deposit of floating garbage began stinking as if a dead body was hidden somewhere in the huge mass of bobbing banana tree trunks and other nasties. Out of our own pocket we paid a couple of young lads to pull the mess out of the water, only they were told by Belen that there was no place to put it. Evidently, her plan was to leave the stinking rotting trash right in the water in front of the hotel until supposedly the next big storm would magically suck it away back out into the channel. Eh? Now I like Belen, I think she’s a good egg, but surely she is not serious. So, the whole mass of rubbish has been piled onto the boat dock to the point that the dock is no longer visible. How much you want to bet all that crap will still be there when and if we return. Geez, I hope not. Tell me there is no cultural gap between foreigners and Filipinos and I must frustratingly respond through gritted teeth, "I---beg---to---differ!"

Ah well, ultimately, none of that stuff is important. It's just part of the fun of living here. Sure it's a struggle, trying to get our "way" and all; but mostly it detracts very little from the experience.


Arne Kuilman said...

The clam is called Spondylus varius. The orange-mouth thorny oyster.

PhilippinesPhil said...