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Eric's Dive Report 13th October 2018

It can and should be said, that a part of the pleasure of scuba diving is encountering the unexpected.  This was well and truly the order of yesterday's diving.  

Our trip started at Rose Bay with a very bright and vivid rainbow landing only a short distance away from us.  As omens go, this turned out to be very accurate.  With real treasure to be found underwater.  Yet, on our way to our first dive site, a treasure of a different sort, was in and out of the water:  a whale calf unexpectedly breaching playfully in front of and near to the boat!

Our first dive was at Blue Fish Point.  Our plan was to venture north of the eastern tip of Blue Fish Point to explore both its topography and whatever aquatic life we might encounter there.  Once underwater, it wasn't long before we were received by an escort of Mado - what should be referred to as the butterflies of the sea.  Fluttering around us, they provided an almost regal voyage to an underwater kingdom we were soon to enter.  This sounds like some sort of fairy tale, yet this is exactly what we experienced, as all those who did this dive can readily attest.  Along the way, an octopus and later a Giant Cuttlefish were sighted - in addition to different species of fish and sharks doing their things for the day:  which included an officious One Spot Puller chasing away a much larger fish - something One Spot Pullers with attitude often like to do.  

Soon, above us, schools of fish fanned out, presaging our arrival at the underwater kingdom alluded to above.  And now inside this aquatic paradise, we were repeatedly surrounded by schools of One Spot Pullers (with better attitude and superior synchronised swimming skills), schools of Yellow Tail, and, of course, our escort of Mado!  All of this was mesmerising, breathtaking, and unforgettable.  A dictionary of adjectives would not be able to accurately describe this scene nor the reaction of all of us.  As if all this wasn't enough, David then was drawn into another school, this time Pomfrets. He followed them into gullies out of which they shot out like gold and silver streamers.  The scene of so many different schools of fish darting in unison, this way or that, was exhilarating and the question was whether one should just live these moments ("to be in he moment" as they say) or try to sear them, in all their complexity, into one's memory.  

It was now time to make our way back - reluctantly!  An experience like this is hard to surpass, but on our way back, a Bull Ray sought to do so with a close encounter when it approached us and at the very last moment veered to the right, sweeping over a low underwater cliff - the manoeuvre was both elegant and beautiful.  

Even though we saw much more at this dive site, the scenes just lived, charged the rest of our trip back with the desire to describe to each other what we had just seen and experienced.

Our second dive was at the tip of Fairy Bower. Once in the water and under it, we headed straight for the reef - with ripples in the sand being our perfect reference point.

Once again, the significant differences in every dive site we visit, was demonstrated by visiting this one straight after the last. And, such differences are also shown in diving the same dive site one day as opposed to the next, and in the morning as opposed to in the afternoon of the same day.  The permutations and combinations of what might be experienced are almost endless.  In this case, this dive was a shallow, heavily bouldered reef, as opposed to our previous dive, being a deeper dive with a more pronounced and varied reef structure.  This is without mentioning the big difference being the significant variation in aquatic life at the two sites.

Reaching the reef, we took a broadly easterly bearing and followed the anfractuosities of the reef.  That reef delivered almost immediately:  A particularly large Goat Fish was churning the ground, as if it had lost its car keys;  a Port Jackson shark pointed the way forward, and then got up to show us the way;  a Snakeskin Wrasse did its funny dance, which, despite its name, is more of a bunny hop;  a Senator Wrasse wove its way through some kelp; and a Crimson Wrasse ... simply looked colourful!  The highlights of this dive were seeing, up close, both a school of Old Wives and a Three Bar Porcupine fish.  Seeing Old Wives in a cluster, although not rare, is nevertheless not normal.  Normally, one sees them in a pair - a bit like Black Reef Leatherjackets which we also saw.  But occasionally we will see Old Wives in a magnificent cluster as we did so today.  The second highlight was seeing a fish, which undeniably has the sweetest face of any fish in the sea: a Three Bar Porcupine fish.  This Three Bar Porcupine fish was in a small overhang looking out, giving us the opportunity to have a closeup inspection of its features.  A longstanding query is whether a Three Bar Porcupine fish is like some other pufferfish species which have Intra corneal pigmentation - basically, where their eyes exhibit variable pigmentation which act like automatic sunglass tinting based on the glare they sometimes experience in feeding in shallow water.  A neat trick!  Alas, distracted by his/her face rather than his/her eyes, this question will require further investigation.

Things to see continued even when returning to the boat, where we saw yet more sharks and a Stingaree - just to balance things out a bit.

So some days really are as unexpected as they are blissful.  The 13th October was truly and undeniably a wonderful day's diving.

Eric