Thursday, January 13, 2011

Milestones Can Be Millstones

Yesterday saw me make my 200th dive. Later this week, I will crack 150 hours underwater. The difference? Air consumption. It's nearly always been an issue for me, and it's a metablolic mystery, much like Sarah Palin's inability to say anything appropriate when confronted with her own ugliness.

Anyway, I did report the two lion fish and was assured that Saturday the dive team will go out, spearguns in hand and hunt them down, along with two others that have been spotted. I haven't decided if I want to witness this, but it might be fun.

The idea is to train predator fish to eat the invasive species by killing them and leaving them on the reef to be picked at. Once grouper get a taste of the fish, the hope is nature will kick it up a notch and work lionfish into the ecobalance.

Lionfish really are lovely to look at, deadly to an unmanaged reef. Of course, the very species that would make meals of them, like grouper and turtles, are the ame species we've driven to near extinction.

Nature finds a way.

The exciting news from yesterday is that sponges seem to be making a comeback after the recent hurricane and other near-miss by one. The devastation the inlet took a few years back during Omar, which basically shot right thru the inlet, was pretty severe to the large tube sponges. Yesterday, we saw a few small buds in the sand and on coral heads.

The rain we've had the past 36 hours...yes, rain, altho it's more the shower variety than the storm kind...creates a murky visibility in the water, and the winds roiled up the sand bottom quite a bit. That, plus a crop of divers finishing their certifications made the diving on the house reef a little iffy, but between injuries and illnesses, it was all we could do to get a group into the water.

By twilight, tho, four photographers and one videographer (yours truly) were in the water, shooting "rush hour" on the reef, the time when the day fish are looking for beds and the night fish are starting to stir.

Tomorrow, we will finally get off-site for most of the diving, splitting up into smaller groups and finding under-dived sites to document the impact bleaching and other natural and man-made phenomena are having on the reefs.

I really should shave...