Enriched Air

We had our last two dives at Puerto Galera today, and are moving to a different place tomorrow. So we had a “dry” afternoon, and I spent a couple of hours getting certified to use nitrox. There was math involved, and Hazards, and now I can, theoretically, dive longer without the same decompression limits, because the air in my tank will have a higher concentration of oxygen. Theoretically, since I am a bit of an air pig, still and haven’t quite mastered the art of breathing deeply, steadily and calmly in such a way that I don’t burn through my air at depth faster than everyone else. And in diving, that means someone has to come up with you, so it’s a communal issue.

cate diving gear

Everyone raves about nitrox, so I go certified, and learned how to recognize oxygen toxicity and how to check that my own tank has the right blend. There’s a lot of Tech in diving.

Our first dive was quick for me, because it started out deep, but I did get another decent photo of a slightly different type of nudibranch.


We went in search of Giant Clams for our second dive, which were really quite amazing, though the water was murky, and no one obligingly got a foot stuck in one for good photo.

giant clam

The rest of the dive was sandy gravel (rather than a coral reef, or rock, or a wreck, or something like that), usually called a “muck dive.” This is where the truly weird creatures lurk, like this black finned snake eel, whose little head just poked out of its burrow.

black finned snake eel

Most creatures in muck dives are really elusive, and well camouflaged, and truly bizarre, and can only be found by sharp eyes and coaxed out with a poking stick. I was surprised to spot this dragon sea moth by myself — mostly I float around and wait to see what other people bang on their tanks for, or spend time photographing.

dragon sea moth

We also found a weird kind of lion fish, called a gurnard lionfish, which sort of scuttled along the bottom. In this shot you can see its majestic inner colours.

gurnard lion fish

The rest is a bit out of focus in that shot — it’s very hard to get really good shots with a compact with a bit of a time delay, and without a strobe — you really need the light underwater. Here’s what it looks like from the side, blue span more hidden.


I found this almost translucent banded coral shrimp, nestled beside an anemone for shelter.

banded coral shrimp
(12.19.12 – #354)

I spent a long time with knees dug into the gravel to try to get a decent shot of it, and kept getting too close to the anemone, which prompted several bites on my hand by this territorial clown fish.

clown fish

In this era of birding and diving, I have now been pecked at and warned off by fish and by arctic terms swooping at my head, and briefly charged at by a blackback mountain gorilla. I wonder what it says about me that I’ve got used to it.


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