Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whale Sharks just want to be Nudis

Today was another whale shark chasing day.  We saw tons.  At least 10 sightings.  Here is a cool shot Randy took of another guest and I (I'm all the way on the right) snorkeling next to one:

During dive 1 I was a little deeper than everyone else and found two Chromodoris kunei next to each other.  It was my zen moment for the day.

39 – Chromodoris kunei

And it was the only new nudi species I saw today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Turtles like Nudis too

Today was a five dive day.  We moored up in a beautiful secluded location that reminded me of the Rock Islands in Palau.  It was called Turtle Rock.  This turtle had a beautiful clean shell with two remoras.


I saw tons of nudis today but most of them were ones I’ve already identified on the trip.  There were three new ones:

36 - Nembrotha livingstonei


37 - Notodoris minor

Randy found this guy and put him on top of a coral head to photograph.  He said he’d never seen it before and took some photos with his huge camera rig.  I didn’t believe him at all, I mean c’mon… the Notodoris minor is fairly common.  But I talked to him about it later and he was pretty convincing.

38 - Hypselodoris maculosa


I do a have few other nudi shots that were cool:

Hypselodoris bullockii

These three were cuddling.

Nembrotha cristata (green) and Nembrotha kubryana (red) hanging out together.  Look at the little white spots on the red ones.  I’m not sure what that is.

Nembrotha rutilans eating tunicates




Sunday, January 29, 2012

Liveaboard Love

I love liveaboard diving.  It is so easy.  They feed you really well and all you need to do is charge your batteries and pull on a wetsuit to dive five dives a day.  J

It makes me so happy.

Randy is the captain and the rest of the crew is Filipino.  Randy was the captain on the Tahiti Aggressor when I was a guest on it.  He worked the Aggressors for 5 years and then captained private yachts before landing here.  I have a great picture of him cutting up chum for the shark feeding in Tahiti, I’ll have to dig it up when I get home.

There is crazy group of Canadians who are on one of the skiffs and then there is Tom/Merilee, Rich and I and a couple who live in the Philippines but are from Scotland/Michigan.  We lucked out – it’s a good group.

We did two dives in the morning and then went looking for Whale Sharks on snorkel (not SCUBA).  We had a few spotters helping us out but this time it seemed much more natural and realistic.  When they found one they’d yell for us to get in and we’d jump of the boat and swim like hell in the direction they were pointing… then we’d shoot shoot shoot the best we could.  When they went too deep, we’d climb back in the skiff and do it all over again.  I must say that I got a bit discombobulated a couple of times with my mask slipping off and my snorkel not behaving like a SCUBA regulator.  We had about four sightings and we must have jumped in and out of the boat about 10 times or so.

I found two new nudi species today:

34 - Glossodoris atromarginata


35 - Chromodoris hintantuensis

Since it was a slow nudi day, I thought I’d share a couple of wanna-be nudis:

Pleurobranchs:

These Pleurobranchus forskalii are the size of dinner plates.  There were two of these guys close to one another which probably means they had just mated.  An interesting fact about Pleurobranchs is that their defense mechanism is that when they are touched, that piece of their mantle falls off.  It eventually grows back, but isn’t that wild?

Chelidonuras:

These Chelidonura amoena look like nudis but they aren’t.  They wrap themselves up into all sorts of crazy shapes.  I find them really serene and beautiful.  The common name for them is Pleasant Chelidonura.  I agree.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Done with Dumaguete

It was my last day of diving in Dumaguete and although the dive site was pretty silty, there were plenty of nudis.

26 - Chromodoris strigata

27 - Nembrotha rutilans

28 - Phyllida ocellata

29 - Fryeria picta

30 - Chromodoris magnifica

31 - Nembrotha lineolata

32 - Chromodoris coi

33 - Chromodoris geometrica

Fitting that I end my time in Dumaguete with my favorite (it's the same one as the top of the blog).

Tomorrow, I fly to Leyte and board the Atlantis Azores Liveaboard.

Obligatory Whale Shark video

Today, we took at trip to snorkel with Whale Sharks (guaranteed) and then do two dives.

My camera takes pretty crappy video, but here it is... the obligatory whale shark video:
video

It turns out some local fisherman feed these whale sharks to keep them nearby.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  It's kinda like cheating.  Well, maybe we'll see some next week on the liveaboard.

Now, on to the good stuff... the Nudis!  The two dives we did after ther whale shark snorkel were awesome!

17 - Chromodoris lochi
with both yellow rhinophores and gills...

and pink rhinophores and gills...

18 - Chromodoris reticulata
19 - Chromodoris hamiltoni

20 - Chromodoris colemani
21 - Chromodoris willani
22 - Notodoris serenae
These two were very near each other both laying eggs
I think someone forgot to tell the second guy that the egg sac is supposed to look like a rose!

23 - Notodoris gardineri
Also laying eggs.  It must have been an all night party at this dive site last night!

24 - Doto sp. 2
Soooo tiny.

25 - Jorunna funebris

Also, I heard from Jayne.  She is back at Maluku Divers in Ambon where I met her one year ago.  She said that they have tons of rhinopias right now!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Five Dive Day

I made all five dives today, but one of them was aborted half way (lost diver... Tom was distracted by his photography and he couldn't be found so they kicked into emergency procedures).  It happens.

On the nudi hunt...

12 - Unidentified pink aeolid

13 - Chromodoris annae

14 - Gymnodoris sp. 14 (Originally I thought this was a Gymnodoris alba)

15 - Unidentified white with hot pink/yellow accents
Update:  I heard from Jayne and she thinks this is: Aegires villosus or another aegires sp.    

16 - Halgerda batangas

It's off to see whale sharks tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apo Island Appreciated

Today, we took a boat trip from Dumaguete to Apo Island.  We left at 8am and did three dives:  two in the morning and one after lunch.

Apo Island is not necessarily known for its nudibranchs but it did not disappoint.

The first dive was at Chapel and my divemaster PJ pointed out this awesome scene.

6 - Hypselodoris bullockii laying eggs

The we saw these guys in a little foreplay:
7 - Nembrotha cristata

8 - Nembrotha kubaryana

He's chowing down.  Yummy!

During lunch, we were supposed to tour the island, but there were so many boats we couldn't go on shore.  Instead, we enjoyed quite a local Filipino spread and we were serendaded by the boat crew.  One of the guys even got this dress from one of the local vendors and sang as a cross dresser!

After lunch, we did one more dive and found this beauty.

9 - Phyllodesmium serratum


The boat ride back seemed much longer and wetter than the ride there, so I got a bit grumpy... but I still went on the Night Dive!  I was the only one though.  It was AMAZING!  There were so many critters and creatures.  Here are the nudi finds:

10 - Phidiana sp.
11 - Jorunna sp.


This looks just like a baby sponge until you realize it's moving!

7 dives and 11 nudis, that's pretty good tally.  I'm looking forward to FIVE dives today.  Although, I do have a blister on my toe from my fins.  Ouch!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Camera challenges... but off to a decent start!

After a few hours in a hotel in Manila, I was off to Dumaguete where a couple of nice guys from the Atlantis Resort picked me up in this pimped out Jeep-ney:


According to Wikipedia:
When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of WWII, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos; they stripped them down and altered or customized the jeeps to accommodate more passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.
The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, which had been virtually destroyed during WWII. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have specialized licenses, regular routes, and reasonably fixed fares.

I got in three dives on the day I arrived.  My first dive was on the house reef and I took my camera down.  The strobes and the camera worked brilliantly... until about half way through the dive.

First, my camera timed out and I had to wake it up.  Being out of practice, I pushed the wrong button.  I pushed the one which displays the pictures just taken and it got stuck in a loop and wouldn't let me take any more pictures.  At one point, it even said that the memory card door was open.  Holy crap.

Then, the Disco Lights on the housing went on.

The disco lights either mean one of two things:
- I have a flood and I'm completely out of business
- The battery for my housing has worn down and it needs to be replaced

I stopped taking pictures and somehow made it through the rest of the dive without freaking out.

Of course, that's when I spotted my first Nudibranch of the trip.  At the end of that first dive I got:

1 - Phyllidiopsis striata

2 - Phillidia pustulosa

3 - Phillidia varicosa

(Pictures added from later dives.)

After the dive, I opened things up.  No flood.  Just two freaky things happened on the same dive.  My housing battery was running low.  No problem, just replaced it.  And the date/time on my camera was not set causing confusion when a photography was called up to be viewed.  After setting the date, downloading and reformmating the card, I was back in business.

Then, on the second afternoon dive:
4 - Phidiana indica

On the night dive
5 - Pteraeolid ianthina (Blue Dragon)

Honorable mention, but not a nudi:  Plakobranch Elysia coodgeensis


Tomorrow I'm off to Apo Island.  The Shedd Aquarium based its Wild Reef exhibit on Apo Island.  Although there is significant damage from a recent typhoon, I am so exited to check it out!

Also, this is my Nudi Blog, but I am seeing lots of other interesting critters and fish.  I plan on posting those to Facebook.  Stay tuned!