Saturday, April 22, 2017

Diving on Earth Day weekend: Guiding dives for Nomad Ocean Adventures and for the Earthcasting students at Rye Jr.High New Hampshire USA

My logged dives #1532-1535

Guiding dives at Nomad 

Owner Chris Chellapermal needed help again this weekend at Nomad Ocean Adventures, on the Musandam side of Dibba, just across the border in Oman. He wanted me to guide a boat each day to accommodate those wishing to dive on the long Islamic holiday weekend. It's a non-paid position but it comes with free meals and accommodation and free diving for me for two days, which is what I like to be doing anyway with my weekends.

Earth Day 2017

This weekend was a special occasion. Earth Day was on April 22 this year, It's not the first time I have participated in events on the occasion. In 2011 a group of friends and I walked over to Aqabat Talhat in Oman and cleaned up a bunch of Isostar cans left there presumably by soldiers on a military training exercise. See

But this year Earth Day proper fell on a Saturday, so Sheila Adams at Rye Jr. High School in Rye, New Hampshire celebrated by streaming her 10th annual Earthcast on Friday, April 21, for five hours from noon to 1700 UTC, when the kids could stream from school. There's more information about that, including links to her recordings, here:

Sheila asked me if I would participate and I agreed to do what I could. I decided to make a video of our diving on April 21 and dedicate it to the earthcasting students at Rye Jr. High in Rye, New Hampshire, USA. I hope they enjoy this video, showing the state of one part of the planet in great need of protection on the day they were about to start webcasting from another part of the planet half a world away.

April 21, 2017: Diving at Ras Morovi and Ras Sanut

Because they might not be familiar with the animals seen in the video I'll explain a little about what we are doing here. First of all, as guide of the trip I made sure that all divers were in the water and knew where they were going. All buddy teams were diving independently, as they liked, and we were last in the water to begin our dive. As we started out we caught up with the team of Fahad and Yousef, both from Kuwait, Yousef Alwazzan is waiting for me to publish the video on YouTube where they are pictured in the first clip.

The reef we were diving on is called Ras Morovi. It has a beautiful top side just 8 meters deep full of reef fish and colorful blue and orange coral. In the second frame, a trigger fish tries to hide in the rocks. If he finds a hole he can hide in he'll lie hidden, only his blue tail will be sticking out. Enemies fail to notice this apparently. Trigger fish also have another interesting habit. When they lay eggs, they will circle the humps of sand where the eggs are and swim menacingly at any fish, or divers, that come close. The blue triggers are not that aggressive, but the larger titan trigger fish will bite divers (usually they go for the swim fins) and will even remember them on a later occasion and zero in on them if they return to the spot where the eggs are.

In an alcove we encounter a school of batfish. These are interesting fish that like to come around divers in midwater. They come quite close and appear curious about divers ascending or descending. But on reefs they appear shy and can be herded in unison. Here the school escapes over tufts of orange coral. I continue filming as we pass over the reef teeming with blue (red-toothed) triggers, blue angel fish with vertical yellow stripes, yellow, white and black striped sergeant majors, banner fish with arched white top fins sweeping back, large rainbow-colored parrot fishes, yellow snappers, and schools of jacks.

Coming down off the reef to 15 meters or so we find sand and green whip coral, among which we find a flounder, or moses sole. These fish have evolved with both eyes on one lateral surface, so they can crawl across the sand bottom on the other surface. They have also evolved camoflage with the sand, but can easily be spotted if disturbed.

Meanwhile Nicki has come upon an unusual spotted eel with orange whiskers on white snout. Later I find a pair of them. She is also filmed poking a clump of anenomes to expose the tiny anemome shrimp hiding there.

In the whip coral I find a green moray, much more common than the spotted ones. Moray eels try to look menacing, but if they aren't provoked, they are not dangerous to divers.

Later I film a pair of lion fish under a ledge, causing an invertebrate that was feeding on the opposite rock to shorten his straw and pull in his feeding head. I'm not sure what this invertebrate is called. If you can identify it for me I would appreciate it.

Our last film from this dive is Nicki finding some spiny crayfish under a rock. Some people call them lobsters, but these ones don't have claws, so I think they are crayfish.

The next frame is from our second dive of the day on Ras Sanut, which we also call Wonder Wall. Here we find a pair of pipe fish, distant relatives of sea horses but much more common. Leaving the pipe fish, I chase a blue wrasse manning his cleaning station. Bigger fish come where these wrasse hang out to get parasites removed, a symbiotic relationship that benefits both the big fish and the tiny wrasse.

We begin to move among picturesque schools of snappers. Kelly waves in passing. We follow the snappers into an alcove and notice a huge marble ray on the reef above. He reappears from around an undersea bolder and leads us along the reef. He is faster than we are and can easily move away. He isn't afraid of us, and as he's lost his tail in a prior encounter with something he should have been afraid of, he isn't dangerous to us. Actually nothing in the water is particularly dangerous as long as you respect it's space and don't provoke it.

April 22, 2017: Diving at Octopus Rock and Lima Rock South

The next video was taken Apr 22, 2017 on a dive on Octopus Rock in Musandam Oman. I was diving with Nicki Blower, Kelly Harris, and my favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens.

We started to the east down to almost 30 meters looking for sea horses, found none but worked our way up to the base of the rock at 18 meters, crossed to and rounded the next rock over..There we came up through schools of blue triggers to find jacks, fusiliers, barracudas, and preening bat fish in the shallower parts of the ridge and on our return to the rock proper.

The final video from this Earth Day weekend shows our dive on Lima Rock South. It was a nice dive, starting with a cleaning station at 25 meters, with a lone fish being administered to near a big boulder with blue coral and green whip. Bobbi and I went ahead but Nicki caught up to us carrying a dancing flatworm in its little rock home, which we then set in motion. In the same video segment I pan to a lion fish, and then to a feathertail ray in one single video segment. Suddenly we were caught in a current that nudged us onwards but would not let us return where we'd come from. We were careful with it, but passed several honeycomb morays. Deco was becoming an issue as well and we were soon caught in a box no deeper than 10-12 meters and with an envelope of only one direction. But soon we were gingerly rounding the point to the north side of Lima Rock, where we surfaced amid jacks. It was a tricky dive because I didn't know everyone in our group, and my ladies in general don't like strong currents, but this one turned out to be relatively mild in the end.

I was diving with Nicki Blower, Kelly Harris, Ihab and Karim from Egypt, and my favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens

In these videos, GoPro videography is by me, Vance Stevens
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #64181

For best results, view these videos using highest HD setting on YouTube

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