Ulong Channel awaits

To our surprise, this morning was designated for Jellyfish Lake.  We actually thought that would happen tomorrow.  What that meant was while the rest of the group went to Jellyfish, the four of us stayed on board the ship.  Matt and I worked on dive logs, and Wayne and Jodi went kayaking.  I also managed to go through all of the blogs and correct the dates, order of publication, and order of photos. All that is left in the blog section is to update the blog associated with our most recent Kona Aggressor trip.  I’m about four days into the seven day trip.  We shall see how that goes!  The ship actually began moving to our current mooring site at about six am, give or take a few minutes.  The ride was pleasant, and uneventful.

The Jellyfish group returned after 9 am, and breakfast commenced.  We had a slightly later start for dive one than usual, but not too bad.  We started off to my favorite location, Ulong Channel, but the mooring balls were pretty much tied up with over ten boats.  Off we went to Siaes Tunnel, another favorite location.  Upon our entry into the tunnel, I looked down, and the schooling jack population seems to have increased significantly.  We exited to the right and went down a wee bit, but the current shifted, and we turned around.

I have discovered I prefer being in the back of the dive formation.  I am much more subject to collisions when in the front.  It’s true that I am a fairly large target for hitting.  It’s just not that much fun!

The reef was bright, colorful, and full of life.  Visibility was a bit short today, but it was bright, and the water blue and lovely.  I always enjoy this site.

We came back to cashew chicken, fish bread (sort of like beef wellington, but fish), calamari, and salad.  Lots and lots of water as well.  I have not been this well hydrated in a long time.  I think I didn’t take in as much water in during our Kona Aggressor trip, but I think that is because it was so cold!  

The dive schedule for the day has changed, probably due to population of dive sites, and the adjusted schedule is Ulong Channel, followed by Ulong Sandbar, and the Ulong Wall for our dinner dive.  This is looking to be a promising day.  :)  

Ulong Channel was a bit more mixed up than expected.  We entered near the mouth of the channel, close to where we typically hook up to watch the sharks swim by.  Unfortunately, there was no current, so we went up to the surface and were dropped off at what is normally our exit site.  We descended right above a grove of garden eels (I really don’t know what to call the whole shebang), to which I directed Valerie, who was quite excited.  We proceeded to swim down the channel, as there was no current whatsoever, moving along the direction towards the lettuce coral.  Along the way we ran into anemone fish, a turtle, and other favorite sea critters, to include to chevron barracuda overhead.  We made it to a second patch of garden eels, and photographed them, and then made it to the lettuce coral.  With no current, all the soldier fish were out and about, awaiting marching orders.  From there it was through a grotto of groupers and territorial titan triggerfish (who loved Valerie’s fins rather than mine or Matt’s), with swim bys from a shark who had lost her dorsal fin.  Poor baby.  Both Ken and Eddie say it is from rough sex.  I think the ladies get the poor end of that deal.  Lose a limb and have to birth a child.  Hmmm.

Dive three commenced after a decent break.  The Sandbar is a relatively easy dive, a gentle slope going down to the bottom of the sandbar.  I asked if the green and yellow leaf scorpionfish were still there, and to my surprise, they were.  With four others!  There are now three yellow, one green, one purple, and one pink leaf scorpionfish.  And four were out!  There was also a strange slug I have not seen before (will have to look that up), a school of jacks, bonito tuna, a juvenile barramundi, a huge school of bigeyes, and at the end, there was a blackside hawkfish just voguing for Wayne.  Every few seconds, the hawkfish would turn its head to look at Wayne, and since Wayne was still there, it would continue to pose.  The only bad part of the dive was the thermal cline through which we swam multiple times.  79 degrees.  Cold.

We left for the night dive at Ulong Wall at 7:15 pm.  It was a slow boat ride out as the tide was out, and the beacon from the sand bar was not working (too much bird poop, said Eddie).  We made it out, and agreed to a 45 minute dive.

Let me tell you that at this point in the trip I am tired.  I get to sleep about 30-60 minutes later than Wayne does, work the blog, get up realtively at the same time, and don’t take naps.  I’m tired.  SO I begged for a shorter dive.

Turns out I shouldn’t have.  This was, for me, by far, the best night dive of the trip.  The water was like warm bathwater, although a little bit salty.  We found a juvenile snapper in the middle of staghorn coral, multiple sets of anemone fish, cute dog faced pufferfish sleeping in the middle of tables of coral (so cute, can I take one home??), and a beautiful green giant clam.  I was almost sorry to get up at 45 minutes, but the emphasis is on almost.  I was having a little trouble equalizing my left ear at the start of the dive, so I need to tread cautiously.  By the time we made it back and I came down for dinner, I was exhausted.  I didn’t finish the blog or log my dives, but went upstairs at 9:45, and had lights out in about a half an hour, shortly after Wayne dropped his iPad for fifth time…So, as you may guess, this is being written the following morning.