Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Cheryl's Birthday, Eh?

Today is Cheryl’s birthday.  How super cool is it to spend a birthday here?

I captured a little video of her with a manta:

It is very quiet this morning and I am hearing all of the bird and jungle noises.  Some of them are pretty loud!  The Arenui crew wear shirts with the Bird of Paradise on it.  Jose is a birder and told me that the loud birds are in fact not the Birds of Paradise. 

The crew blows my camera dry after every dive.  When I say blow dry, it is bone dry.  Amazing. 

Jose gave a presentation on Biodiversity.   He did a good job, but he has the funny way of ending all of his sentences with “Eh?” in otherwords, “Do you get it”?  I found it a little distracting but charming in an “Eh-Spanish” way.

The night dive was pretty cool.  We saw two ornate ghostpipefish, a walking shark and I found a new nudi.  Not just for this trip but totally new for me! 

But other than that, no new nudis.

We had awesome banana spring rolls for dessert tonight.  We were so full, Cheryl asked to delay the birthday cake until tomorrow for second breakfast dessert.

37 - Hypselodoris reidi

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lemme Esplain You

I have started picking up the little nuances of the cruise directors.  Lisa likes to rub her hands together as she talks (sorta like “goodie goodie goodie”).  She also says “no problem” a lot.  For instance, if there is going to be lots of current, it’s “no problem”, we’ll just go to the other side of the rock.

G and Jose say “lemme esplain you” a lot.  In other words, “let me explain to you”.

We started trading many stories about serving as a crew.  They have very high end guests who will rent out the whole boat for just one or two families.  Then they will change the schedule and mess with the routine of the crew.  Some of them don’t even really want to go diving.  Can you imagine?

We took a group photo of our boat in our wetsuits.

G superglued one of the little guys I brought in with the nudibranchs they have.

The chef made homemade donuts yesterday.  That’s pretty advanced for a liveaboard chef!  They were good, but not great.

I’ve been having Mie Goreng every morning for breakfast.  It is so good.

I keep trying to get a good “Fly the W” flag photo on the boat with the islands in the background.  I’m failing miserably.  Here’s the best I could do:

Many mobula rays showed up on the first dive.  I got some footage.  On the third dive, a coral started spawning and releasing this thick pink goo that looked like a ghost.  It was really cool and I tried to get some video but I think the specialness was lost.  We also saw a crocodilefish.

Oh, and I think I FINALLY figured out how the manual mode on my strobes work!  Although the labels say “Lighter” and “Darker” which to me mean that if you turn the dial to lighter, your picture will turn out lighter.  No.  It means exactly the opposite.  So if your picture is dark, turn the dial to “Darker” and the picture will be lighter.  WTF?  The funny thing is that I’ve looked through all of the instruction manuals that came with the strobes and have read online and nothing seems to walk me through what to do.  I guess trial and error is always the best way.

I’d like to get a little more artsy with my photos.  Which means staying with a cool subject longer.  If I find a cool subject, I need to just shoot shoot shoot.  Especially now that I feel like I have all my tools figured out.

A few more nudis showed up today…

33 - Philinopsis gardineri

Yuvonne showed me this one and at first I thought it was just fish fluttering around.

34 - Goniobranchus reticulatus

There were two of these under a rock.

35 - Thecacera picta

I found this one out on the edge of a drop off.  It was a little gift.  My dive group was way ahead of me, so I didn’t call anyone back to see it.

36 - Nembrotha chamberlaini

The coloring on this one is really unique.  And it looks like it just hooked up!  Its genital aperture is extended… and in this nudibranch it’s blue!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Twerk It

The boat fired up its engines at 3:45am so we could move to a new dive site.

The wood on this boat has a distinct smell.  It is very similar to the smell at Hamilton when I sat in the second row.  I wonder if it is a certain kind of wood that smells this way.

I made a cool video at 4am.  The stars were all shining so brightly.  I even saw a shooting star.  I tried to show that we were “Flying the W” amongst it all.

I am reading “All the Light We Cannot See”.  It won a Pulitzer Award and I’m about 90% done but this is way too heavy reading for a vacation.  I don’t like these kinds of books at all.  But I’m one of those people… if I start a book I’m going to finish it.  The main character (Marie Laure, the blind woman who loves being in the ocean) does study malacology though I realized. 

The dive sites here are beautiful.  They are very pristine with lots of soft coral and sea fans.  However, it’s not great to find little critters and nudis.

This is definitely the warmest diving I’ve ever done.  I am using my old wetsuit without any hood and I don’t think I’ve gotten cold once.  The temperature on my dive computer is reading 86 degrees.

Yuvonne got a massage.  They do it on the sundeck with other people around.  I think it’s a little weird. But then again, I'm not a massage person.

Today things got a little crazy.  Yuvonne broke out her Hamilton music.  I just love the part where the King sings.  So then I had this in my head as we went into the dusk dive and I was singing it underwater.

We all started twerking before getting on the boat.  I'll just leave that image in your head.

During one of the dives today, I found a yellow frogfish about ¾ of the way through the dive and tried to get people to come down to the 70 feet I was at, but nobody heard me.  So I took a few shots and decided I would just keep it a secret.  I guess they don’t see many frogfish here.  

Then, I showed Joni the yellow frogfish on my camera while we were at the safety stop but told him not to tell anyone.  He showed me a trick with making air circles from his wetsuit sleeves.  I can't figure out how he does it!

It was BBQ night.  I had shrimp and calamari… and then asked them to bring the butter cookies up.  We all took our turn at the jar (even though they made chocolate mousse)!

After dinner, Jose and I had a nudi date.  We went through his nudi presentation, my nudi presentation and Dave Behern’s.  Then I showed him all the papers I had on the subject.  Since he is a science geek, he is so interested to read them.

New Nudis

30 - Reticulidia fungia

31 - Phyllidiella rudmani

32 - Phyllidia elegans

Sunday, November 27, 2016

It's a Small World on Joni Boat

I woke up at 2am but made myself go back to sleep until at least 4am.

I went up to the sundeck but it is raining just enough not to stay out there.

I am getting a little blister on my left ankle from my fins.  I put some Neosporin on it and I’m hoping it won’t get any worse.

They call our boat “Joni Boat”.

I started telling Joni that I knew many of the people who took photos for the most recent Indo-Pacific nudibranch book.  I got to Francis and Pirjot and Joni spoke up… "I know them from Lembeh!"  They go to Lembeh all the time.  I started telling all of these stories about Pirjot.  It’s a really small world.

I only had one complaint about the night dive…  There were soooo many fans and soft corals that I couldn’t really get up in there to see if there were any critters or nudis!

I chatted with G and Jose about their crew experience.  G said that he and Lisa had to interview together to get this job and competed against like 130 other couples for the job.  That’s so weird for me to contemplate… that you would interview for a job with your significant other.

I guess the guy who started the Arenui was only like 34 when he birthed the company and is now still very young.  He was not really a diver and got certified on the boat itself.

Since we were bombarded with mantas, I only picked up a few new nudis today:

25 - Phyllidia varicosa

26 - Phyllidiopsis sinaiensis

27 - Phyllidiopsis fissurata

28 - Thecacera sp. 8

29 - Jorunna funebris

Cheryl found the first one for me and then Joni found the second one.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Two Dozen Nudis, just what I ordered

Yay!!! We FINALLY get to dive today.  I’m so excited.  It’s pretty much been a whole week just getting here.  Ugh.

I woke up at 3am.  I couldn’t freakin’ sleep anymore.

I sat on the sundeck in the dark and watched a thunder and lightning storm roll in.  It was raining intermittently, but I used it to go in and out using the bathroom and getting more coffee.  I read the NudibranchBehavior book.  It was so fun and I believe that might just be my favorite book of all time.  J

It is really warm here.  I am wearing my old wetsuit and it is just fine (although I’m having trouble getting it over my calves!).  I haven’t got a chill at all yet.

After dive two, I already had 17 nudibranch species identified.

Cheryl pointed out the Chromodoris dianae and I told her the story about how Dave Behrens named it after his wife on their anniversary, but his wife said that she would much rather have had some diamonds.

Topside today, the islands were gorgeous… and we were the only boat at most of the sights.  We encountered mobula rays, bride whales and saw a double rainbow.  Um, it will be tough to beat that.

I put my little guy “Chad” in the rubber bands of my external hard drive.  It looks so funny like I have tied him up.

My camera is working as it should.  Hooray!  But I forget to turn off the face recognition feature.  That was changing my focus spot. 

I’d still like to figure out the best setting for the strobes.  I still don’t feel like I know how to get a ton of light on my subject.  I’ll try to read up on it.

We found a red frogfish today which is pretty rare for this region.  

I was also able to photograph a “Santa Claus” seahorse.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these.

We had dinner outside on the sundeck and the rain held off until just after we finished dessert.  I forced myself to sit with “the other group” of divers not from Rich’s group.  It was actually fun to hear how they met, what kind of diving they like to do, etc.

Today I got up to 24 species of nudibranchs:

1 - Chromodoris annae

2 - Phyllidipsis shireenae

3 - Goniobranchus coi
I also saw these little parasite eggs (maybe?) mixed in with the gill of this guy.  It was really kinda weird.

4 - Thuridilla gracilis

5 - Phyllidiopsis sphingis 

I think this one is new for me.  Notice the bluish sheen on it, especially down by the margin.

6 - Phyllidia alyta

7 - Flabellina rubrolineata (lavender)

8 - Phyllidiella pustulosa

9 - Chromodoris lochi

10 - Phyllidia ocellata

11 - Goniobranchus geometricus

12 - Chromodoris dianae

13 - Nembrotha cristata

14 - Phyllidia coelestis

15 - Flabellina exoptata

16 - Flabellina rubrolineata (orange and purple with nipple like cerata)

17 - Pteraeolidia semperi

18 - Nembrotha sp. 1

19 - Phyllidia sp. 1

20 - Caloria indica

21 - Chelidonura amoena

22 - Aegires sp. 8 

23 - Goniobranchus fidelis

24 - Nembrotha kubaryana