Sunday, March 1, 2009

Diving with stingrays and turtles

Saturday I went diving with the dive club here in Samoa. The dive club is made up of Japanese, Australian, and American volunteers working here in Samoa. It’s a good way to meet and hang out with other foreign volunteers here and also diving is just fun so why not. It was a really nice day for a dive, sunny and of course being Samoa, warm. We went with Aqua Samoa, based out of the Aggie Grey’s resort. We took it easy on our two dives (only going to max depth of 73 and 77 feet), as I hadn’t been diving in 3-4 years, another volunteer had just gotten certified before coming here, and another volunteer was nursing a hurt foot. I felt like I was seriously missing equipment. Being in the tropics you don’t need a wetsuit if you don’t want one, and even if you want one a shorty and not the full monstrosity will do. It was wonderful to go diving in just a swimsuit with shorts and a rash guard. There was no awkward pulling of a wetsuit trying to get it off. Also, since the scuba company is based out of the nicest resort on the islands, they took care of everything for us. We didn’t have to carry our own gear to the boat or even hook up our tanks and regulators. I liked feeling like a tourist in that regard.

The first dive spot was called Circus. Another volunteer and I had some issues right off the bat though because neither of us were weighted right and hence couldn’t get below the surface…kind of a problem when diving. Once we got more weight, we were golden. We saw a sting ray right as we got going. We snorkeled around the massive reefs looking at all the little fishies. We saw parrotfish, angelfish, anemonefish, butterflyfish, etc. For me personally, it was a great dive to get back into things. My buoyancy was perfect (once I got the extra weight that is) so I wasn’t struggling to stay off the bottom or rising up to the top all the time. It was an easy, slow just look at all the pretty fish and coral.

Our second dive spot was about the same. It was called Laumei (turtle). The name was chosen because people often see turtles when diving on that spot, and sure enough so did we. It was cute, gliding off a little reef drop off. We saw an anemonefish who likes to munch on people, two giant longfin spadefish (about the size of two or three dinner platters), giant clams, filefish, etc. The most fun part was the swim through, a tunnel/break in the coral about 25 feet long. It was fun to go under/between two large coral reef sections and look back as others came through. At one point about halfway through the swim through I looked up and back towards the surface, seeing nothing but coral to the sides, towering above me, fish swimming over me, and light streaming through a gap in the coral sections. It was awesome!

Anytime I’m in the water I’m happy, so being able to go diving was great. I hadn’t been in a really long time, but it is kinda like riding a bike, you don’t ever really forget what to do. I got to try out my dive watch/computer too (thanks Dad)…the thing is awesome! I loved seeing the temperature, depth, dive time, having a countdown timer for how long I can be at a certain depth and not need a safety stop, seeing how much nitrogen is building up in my blood, warned by an alarm when I’m ascending too rapidly, and having a timer for my safety stop. It was all so easy to figure out too. I figured with something as complicated as a dive computer I would have alarms going off all the time for things I hadn’t set right on it, but nope…everything went swimmingly. And now all the info is stored in my watch and I can’t wait to see what kind of fun I can have downloading it to my computer. So unlike most weeks, I now have something to do…play with my dive watch and anxiously await our next dive.

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