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Eric's Dive Report 9 March

How good is it to do two dives at two great spots and be back on land before the weather changes, bringing cloudy skies and rain.  Not that that would have dampened our experience given everything we saw and did underwater.  Instead, we had good weather and two, nearly hour long dives.  Two long dives which were not long enough to see everything there was to see at both dive sites.  Nevertheless, what we did see was more than enough to make us feel elated until our next adventure underwater.

Dive #1 Blue Fish Point:  
A cocktail of salt air and a sculptured blue ocean readied us for an exploration of this site.  And once in the water, we were eager for our first dive to begin.  For a brief moment, as we descended, you could see both the surrounding rugged cliffs and an aqua world we were now entering:  the transition was brief but highlighted our departure from one planet to the blue one below that few actually have the privilege to visit.  We were eager to meet its inhabitants:  
Giant Cuttlefish grabbed our attention repeatedly throughout this dive and the next one: Giant Cuttlefish of different sizes, from small-ish to that of a reasonably sized dog - in fact, one was so big that its mantle (body) appeared to be almost that of the carapace of a turtle.  Often, a sighting would be followed by a small congo line of hands from one diver to that of another, each doing a ritualistic finger dance in front of the Cuttlefish.  Ashley observed that those Cuttlefish really must think humans are the bizarrest and strangest of creatures, being maybe true aliens, who often go through this digital ritual in order to seek attention and an interaction with others.  Struan might argue that to a cat, humans must also appear to be like an alien, or at least strange, when humans often do all manner of things to elicit a response from a cat:  and the expression on the cat's face, says it all.  Sometimes, a Giant Cuttlefish shows pity towards us and extends a tentacle or two, as if to say, "there, there, ... it's okay".  Sometimes they will humour us or tease us, coming out a bit before retreating into a reef overhang - before recommencing this same in and out movement, again and again, - as if to say, "yes I will interact with you, ... no I won't", repeatedly, and no doubt enjoy a good giggle afterwards.

Moving further along, David saw a squid not being teased but being feasted on by several fish: we have yet to forgive David for not sharing that unusual scene.  He did not, however, have to share the scene of about 50 Kingfish swimming by which was seen by nearly all of us.

An octopus was either sunning itself or according to David B, may have been sitting protectively over a meal.  It was in the open, stretched out against a boulder, exhibiting both strength and floppiness simultaneously.  You can see this octopus in that pose in an amazing photo taken by Shelley.  At our post dive debrief, a discussion ensued as to the significance of its coloration.

Next we saw big schools of different species of fish seemingly collide where we were.  So many times I have tried to describe a scene which defies any verbal description.  This was such a scene.  Suffice to say, it was exhilarating and mesmerising.  In the midst of so much going on around us, two juvenile Fusiliers could be seen:  one 3cm long and the other about 4cm - I'm glad that these two young fish were together having ventured so much further south than they were supposed to be.
Heading back we saw a particularly large Fiddler ray swimming nearby.  This one creature embodies the unmistakable characteristics of both a shark and a ray and exhibited the traits of both as it moved through the water.
Lastly, I need to mention an extraordinary scene many divers saw on this dive:  not too far away from the sighting of the Fiddler ray, there was a meeting place for rays to congregate and sit on each other.  Yes, that's right, sit on top of each other!   Not only that, but the rays concerned were different species:  Eagle rays, Fiddler rays, and Stingarees, in an amazing bonding scene at Blue Fish Point.  There were at least fifteen Eagle rays, about twenty or so Fiddler rays, and maybe thirty Stingarees - altogether at this spot! 

Dive #2 Manly Bommie: 

Contrary to its name, this dive site is predominantly a reef escarpment rather than being a pinnacle as its name implies.  A reef with lots of overhangs, fissures, and very many gutters.  The reef itself often meanders in direction, but the gutters tend to be unexpectedly straight.  Where these gutters end on the eastern edge of the reef, fish often congregate.  Long Fin Pike, often pick one of those spots to slowly circle, waiting for a photographer to capture the exquisite beauty of that scene.  Adjacent rock overhangs barely conceal, schools of Bulls Eyes, doing their slow rock-a-bye movement with the gentle ebb and flow movement of the sea.  Spilling over the rock face above the Bulls Eyes, were Eastern Hula fish.  The Eastern Hulas did not simply cascade over the edge, they did this with a bit of a shimmy movement as well - which is why they have their name, from the shimmying movement of Hawaiian hula dancers.
Everywhere we looked, there was one scene or another to excite our interest:  a Crimson Wrasse, flung himself into view to distract us from the hula dancers, whereupon a Herring Cale broke free of the kelp to try to surprise us.  What truly did surprise us was the arrival of another 40 or 50 Kingfish, who descended right next to us, and slowly moved along.  They made an impressive sight, as they often do whenever they are very close by and in a very big group. These particular Kingfish made sure everyone saw them!

Both dives were an absolute pleasure to do today.  The width and breadth of places to investigate and to explore at both dive sites are limitless, with the only problem being the innumerable distractions along the way.  The best type of distractions leaving us all later trying to mentally relive every one of them.  Especially when those recollections consist of dream-like experiences coseted within wonderful sensations.  If only words could properly capture the pleasurable feelings both dives left us with - being the reason why we need to do our strange finger dance for Giant Cuttlefish, be transfixed by an octopus (pretending to be fixed to a rock or within a crevice), gobsmacked by a school of 40-50 Kingfish right next to us, and swept away by schools of fish swimming all around us.  Such scenes explain why we 'need' to dive in much the same way that we need to breathe - with the exception that breathing underwater is so much better than breathing once out of it!