Wow, what a day!
I'd love to show you some pictures of our night dive from last night, but alas I had camera problems again. My strobe wouldn't fire and on a night dive that just won't do. Silver lining though: since every dive I've been on without my camera has been great I knew we were in for a treat.
With 20 divers in pitch black water, things can become a cluster. Everywhere you look light beams cut through the water. Flashing lights and glow sticks marked the divers. We immediately spotted tons of lobster and lots of sleeping parrot fish. Some of the group saw some huge crabs and even tarpon. The highlight for me was seeing 4/5 hermit crabs fighting for one damn nice looking shell. After close to an hour we headed back to where we thought the boat was and were very lucky to see an octopus. I'd show you a picture, but, yeah. I did reach another milestone, a new longest dive: 101 minutes!
Got back for dinner late and had another GIANT piece of tuna that was delicious. Had a couple nightcaps and headed to bed hoping my camera issues would be resolved in the morning.
After breakfast I switched out the batteries in everything, we loaded up into shuttle and headed to the Miss U. Since the wind had really died down we headed toward the east side of the island for the first time. Our first site was "Little Bight". The main draw of this site was a sea horse about 5" long. After the seas horse we headed across a large sandy area that was full of Garden Eels. These little guys look like grass but when you get close they zip into the sand. About halfway through across the sandy area we ran into a bunch of squid. This encounter was one of the coolest experiences I've had diving to date. These things were so interested in us, as much as we were in them. There was two lines of creatures, one of squid, one of human, staring at each other. Very cool.
After about 10 minutes with the squid we continued on and found a good size eel having lunch. We turned around and made the trek back to the boat for some water, fruit and muffins and a bit of a rest before our 2nd dive, "Madeline's".
The first part of the dive was pretty non-eventful which made sense because my camera was working. Bit as soon as we made our turn things changed rapidly. So many fish about 30 feet. Cow fish, giant angel fish, ocean trigger fish and needlefish. About halfway back to the boat my dive buddy Ted and guide Reuben got my attention. They were swimming fast so I quickly caught up. What I saw was the tail of a large fish that looked a lot like a shark. I couldn't tell as it was moving fast and effortlessly away from us. Reuben cut him off and the fish headed right toward me. At this point I think a 5' shark is headed right toward me. He made a turn right in front of me and I instantly recognized it as a tarpon who apparently was posing for a great shot! After that excitement we kicked back to the boat and completed the dive.
For lunch we headed to a small island called "Parrot Key". The restaurant is owned by our boat captains family. I had barracuda fish and chips which was pretty good. After lunch we took a stroll down main street which was actually a path way. The island has 400-700 locals (depending on the season). It's amazing to me that people actually live here for their whole lives. Everyone was very nice and welcomed us to see where and how they live. Definitely put some perspective on how different things can be.
After our tour we jumped on the Miss U and headed back to Utopia where we cleaned up and headed to the bar for an afternoon of showing pictures and reliving the days awesome dives. Our trip is half over and tomorrow will be our last day of diving. It will be sad to leave the this place but I am missing the kiddos and loved ones back home.
Enjoy the photos!
Sunset on the way to the night dive
Squid looking at us looking at them
Jim the squid whisperer
Green eel having lunch
My new desktop
Ocean trigger fish
Tarpon! (not a shark)