Continuing adventures in solo diving (the day of the frogfish)

I suppose I’m still accustomed to waiting for everyone to get into the water together… so as I stood distracted waiting for everyone, I was found myself getting caught up in the week’s events.  It’s not been my favourite week this year, but I’ve been reminded of the need for patience and courage.  That the awesome life I have and have been blessed with, only flourishes if I give it the attention it needs.  That some things are just out of my control, and for other things I just need to be patient, there are certain things that can only come as fast as they can.  That life is good, even if it’s confusing.

So, after a rather heavy philosophical start to the day, I realised that I was standing on the beach, camera rig in one hand, 6litre stage tank slung to my right side, along with the rest of my SCUBA gear, just gazing at the floor.  Best get on with it hey?!

I was also waiting for a suitable pause in the conversation to figure out where the dive site is.  Probably a good idea considering I wasn’t actually following anyone.  “enter at the end of the rocks, take a left at a depth of about 12m after the ridge in the sand…”.  Hmmmm… seems rather vague, but I wandered off over the soft sand, thinking about the number of times that I’ve missed it after hearing instructions given to the tune of “you can’t miss it!”.

I took my sweet time to get into the water, and fin out over the shallow reef, half hoping that the others would be along shortly… they weren’t, so I popped under the surge and pootled along half hoping that the others would “inadvertently” show me the way… the approach to the dive sites in that area are across a sand bottom with lots of little hermit crabs and cute little molluscs, whose shells the crabs ultimately end up wearing.  Little green sprigs of greenery litter the ridges of sand, and you can clearly see burrows made from little piles of rocks and coral that all manner of sea beasties have made.  From the symbiotic partner goby / shrimp combos to cool mini mantis shrimps, both painfully shy.  So I decided to take a speedier pace to get to my actual destination – the artificial reef made of bundles of truck tires.

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Monster frogfish (that apparently has been in the same place for years)

The current picked up at the ridge and started taking me quite quickly westwards, and noticeably downwards.  Correcting my downward journey, I ended up in the general vicinity of the “reef”, much to my relief as my underwater navigation isn’t always the best (although this does seem to be changing).  Having explored the first pile of tires that I came across (at about 20m depth) I was starting to think this might be a crappy dive.  Encrusting sponges, algae, and sweetlips are pretty and all that but I was hoping for some cool nudibranch or seahorses or… FROGFISH! Huge frogfish!  The first was black… like a blob of tar but with fins and a grumpy face.  If I was impressed with the first, the second was even bigger and, fortunately, a lot easier to photograph.  I was able to share my pleasure when, on my way back, I spotted two of the others and excitedly did my best frogfish hand-signals (what looks like someone busting a dance move from the 60’s but underwater) and pointing wildly in two directions at once… totally easy when you have all this stuff hanging off you.

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Another, smaller, frogfish hiding in a tree coral pretending to be a feather star.

The second dive was on the familiar Dili Rock.  It too produced 4 more small frogfish (equally cute), a hunting mantis shrimp scuttling along the sand, a pink hairy squat lobster on a barrel sponge (the same damned one that I am still to get a photo of!!), a monster of a batfish, and a cool moray that I’ve since forgotten the name of… cloudy moray?

So, not a bad day really… time for a nap 🙂

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