Another busy day on the Cuan Law.
Jodi tweaked her back last night, so she opted not to do one of our favorite dive sites that we had done the last time we were here, Disappearing Rock. We went down wreck alley, which is a quadruple wreck site consisting of the Marie L, a cargo boat intentionally sunk in the early 1990s; the Pat, a tugboat sunk a few years later that now lies up against the Marie L (Wayne knew the site as the Marie/Pat); the Beata (sunk in 2001) and the Island Seal/Joey D (sunk upside down in 2009 due to a poor sinking effort). There was also a large colony of garden eels slightly around the wrecks, and we had no shortage of rays (sting and spotted eagle varieties).
Dive two took us to Carval Rock, which is between Cooper and Ginger islands. We descended to see a grey reef shark checking us out almost immediately - and s/he kept coming back to the dive site while we were submerged.
We also saw a juvenile yellowtail damselfish, which was quite stunning. As they get older, the yellow tail develops and they lose quite a bit of their sports. Apparently I was lucky to get this picture, as the juveniles tend to hang out in fire coral, which can be less than pleasant.
One thing Wayne and I are noticing is that there appear to be fewer flamingo tongues than were here the last time we visited. I was lucky enough today to find a fan coral on which there were five of them, but that has not been the norm. I wonder if it is a direct effect of the coral bleaching. The coral can go from vibrant to nonexistent across a site. Lots of fish still live in the burned out coral, but the visual effect is quite grim, creating a stark landscape.
Four of us entered the water for an afternoon dive at Ginger’s Backside (aka Alice’s backside, Alice in Wonderland is a dive on the opposite shore of Ginger Island. A huge coral reef runs the length of the island starting at about 15 ft under the boat and falling away to the sandy bottom at about 60 ft. We went out at 60 feet of depth, and then came back at about 25 feet looking for a mooring buoy. We overshot the mooring buoy and the boat, but were pleasantly surprised by a grey reef shark near the end of the dive. The further east we went on the dive, the bleaching of the coral was really bad. We had a good amount of current at 25 feet on our way back, but it wasn’t unmanageable. When I hit 1000 psi, I signaled Wayne, he ascended and got a heading on the Cuan Law, and we returned.
Our fourth dive of the day was back at Ginger’s Backside. We saw a big slipper lobster, a giant jack, ghost crabs galore, a small conger eel (nowhere near the size of Percy the killer moray of the Deep fame!), and a baby octopus. All in all, a nice day of dives.
Making our way back to the boat was easy - the bright lights of the trimaran created an underwater glow. That was good because you cannot see the strobe under the boat until you are right on it!