Friday, January 21, 2011

27 Dec 2010 - Dive 8 to 11 at Si Amil, Danawan, Mabul and Kapalai

Dive 8 - East Fort (Siamil) 

Dive: 77
Duration: 50mins
Avg Depth: 15.7m
Max Depth: 23.5m

Visibility was again pretty bad at this dive, particularly towards the deeper end. Finally we found a frogfish in the dive. I've heard from a friend who was here the previous year that they're practically everywhere. Perhaps the changing weather from the current La Nina cycle is causing the reduced numbers of all the creatures. First the vastly reduced number of sharks and turtles at Sipadan. And the reduced encounter with the frogfish. Even the mandarin fish at Kapalai have "shifted house" from what the DM says. Despite that, this was still a wonderful dive as I saw for the first time a juvenile pinnate batfish. Unfortunately I didn't have a decent shot due to the poor visibility. The juvenile was just so beautiful with its orange red margin all around its body and fin.It wasn't wary of us and was just calmly swiming around in a figure of 8 path. One strange observation was that I heard some continous growling sound while I was around the batfish but I'm not certain if it was coming from the fish or something else. On hindsight, I should have done a video clip instead.

Giant frog fish (Antennarius Commerson) at East Fort (22m) - Siamil, Malaysia

Tube dwelling anemones (Ceriantharia sp.) at East Fort (13m) - Siamil, Malaysia

Dive 9 - Danawan Reef (Siamil) 

Dive: 78
Duration: 55mins
Avg Depth: 13.5m
Max Depth: 20.7m

The visibility was still pretty bad. As usual, I was towards the rear of the group and the DM found a black frogfish ahead. By the time I catch up, the poor fellow was already covered with all the sand and silt that was kicked up. Looks like it's will be yet another time to try some shots on a black frogfish. Halfway through the dive, a white leaf scorpian fish was spotted inside a small opening between some rocks. After waiting my turn, I spent some time trying to get a shot of the scorpianfish. And during this time, my dive comp went into deco for around 2 minutes before I realised it. The depth at which it occured was at 17m. Damn! Totally didn't expect to go into an unplanned deco dive. It wasn't too bad as I noticed it early and have more than sufficient air to complete the deco obligation. Wasting no time, I quickly move to shallower depth. Finally the deco time was cleared just in time before the group ascend. Lesson learnt to be more mindful of my NDL time esp when being focused on some interesting subjects.

Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus) at Danawan reef (17m) - Danawan, Malaysia

Dive 10 - Lobster Wall (Mabul)

Dive: 79
Duration: 50mins
Avg Depth: 14.4m
Max Depth: 22.6m

Upon descending, I saw the DM concentrating on a small seafan. I'm pretty sure he found a pygmy seahorse but I couldn't see where it was so I just waited beside until he pointed it out. Gosh, finally saw my 1st pygmy seahorse and it was indeed small! Probably about the size of a grain of rice or just a tad bigger than that. With the macro filter in place, it sure wasn't easy trying to catch this fellow on the cameara. At that magnification, the moment you look at it and back at the camera, you can't find it on your screen anymore. Phew. In retrospective, maybe it is easier to use a fine stick as a pointer to locate the subject and moving it out of the way just before taking a snap. A two person tag team should work better for this I guess. Also saw a couple of very pretty nudibranch but unfortunately as it was on a wall, all I have are ass shots as I do not want to reposition them for a shot. 

Willan's chromodoris (Chromodoris willani) at Lobster Wall (10m) - Mabul, Malaysia

Female spinecheek anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus) at at Lobster Wall (5m) - Mabul, Malaysia

Dive 11 - Kapalai House Reef

Dive: 80
Duration: 40mins
Avg Depth: 9.9m
Max Depth: 13.4m

A very short night dive at the housereef. We could have stayed much longer given the very shallow depth but some of the other divers was clearing their AOW prior to the night dives and hence have run out of air earlier. Saw a super fat moray eel at the start of the dive. I think it was just irritated with all our lights that it decides to swim out of its hole. That's when I realised how fat it actually was. The fattest I've seen by far and it's a pity I didn't have it on camera or video. Apart from that, also saw a couple of very well camouflaged scorpianfish at the bottom.  And quite a number of tiny shrimps and crabs among the corals and crevices too.

Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) at Kapalai house reef during night dive (3m) - Kapalai, Malaysia

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