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Scuba Diving

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 8 years, 9 months ago

Lessons Learned While Diving on Aruba

 

In January of this year (2014), on a cruise, I dove twice on Aruba, both on wrecks-the first to 60' (a record for me) and the second to 25'.  They were my 13th and 14th dives.  Among others, I saw, and using my SeaLife camera, photographed, green moray eels and a trumpet fish oriented head down among finger sponges-so predictable that I almost missed it.

A brilliant red encrusting sponge that I need to identify.  I'm guessing red fire sponge, but I'm not certain.  Proceeding clockwise from the right of the nearest column, there is a bluestriped grunt, a female stoplight parrotfish, a Spanish hogfish (smallish and yellow and black on the far left), and a Spanish grunt.  The diversity of species was exhilarating  to this biologist!  As Darwin said on his first experience with a jungle rainforest, "My mind was a chaos of delight!"
A green moray eel - I now wish I had gotten closer, but the dive party was moving on.
  Pan pipe sponges - Everywhere on the wreck.  As the name implies, they often occurred in rows of descending heights.  Who names these things?  They've got to have education and wonderful imaginations.  A mature Spanish hogfish is in the lower left.

Here is the trumpet fish that I nearly missed.  It was trying to look like its surrounding finger sponges so that it could have lunch.  I couldn't hang around to see that happen; again the dive party wanted to keep going. 

 

Someday I would like to dive with a dive partner who would be willing to do a sit spot with me and just see what happens in one small confined space by simply waiting and being patient.  Club fingered corals are in the background


 

Banded butterfly fish.  This is my last and favorite photo from the dive. 

Was it the reason I lost my bearing and the ascent line?  I don't think so, but it makes for a good story.  ;-)

 

A brown chromis to the right of the butterfly fish, a redband parrotfish to the butterfly fish's immediate left and above and to the left of the parrotfish, a French grunt.

 

What a dive!  Now see what REALLY made it memorable by reading what follows.

 

I did fine during the first dive, maintaining my buoyancy despite my fears to the contrary, but near the end of the dive, I found myself well below the 500 psi recommended for a safe ascent.  This was lower on air than I had ever been.  I was expecting a line ascent (going up the anchor line and doing the 3-minute safety stop at 15 feet by holding onto the line) since that is how the dive was billed.  I was at the line, waiting my turn.  I must have been distracted by a fish or something, because the next thing I knew, I was all alone and a 360 degree search revealed no one, no bubbles, and no line.  I could have panicked, but instead the month of training I had two years ago paid off.  I kept my cool, recognized I'd have to make my first free ascent and maintain a 3-minute stop at 15 feet without anything to hold onto.  I found a reference point on the wreck, ascended slowly to 15 feet, kept one eye on my depth gauge and timer and one on the wreck beneath me, and waited out the three minutes all the while maintaining my buoyancy perfectly at 15 feet, again, much to my surprise.  At the end of the longest 3 minutes I've ever experienced, expecting at any moment that my air would run out, I surfaced and found myself about 130 feet from the boat.  I inflated my BC and calmly swam to the boat.

 

I will not get cocky after this, but I will dive from now on with more confidence in my training and ability than I had before.

 

Thank you Waterfront Diving Center and especially thank you, Ski (alias Robert S Wilczyski) and Dave Bean who trained me so well!

 

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