Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#5: Namena Marine Reserve

Post by Ellen Garvey

"If it's been more than 15 minutes since you've eaten, it's time to dive"

Giant clam

During the night, the Fijian captain and crew have moved the boat to the Namena Marine Reserve for the next 2 days of diving. We wonder when they sleep--they seem to be around whenever we're awake and they're on duty every night!

During our daily 'first' breakfast (the continental breakfast to hold us over during the first dive), we fill out the forms for the Reserve and collect our badges. The Reserve was founded 6 years ago. It prohibits commercial fishing, but the local villagers may still partake of the bountiful sea life using lines (no nets). We're briefed on the dive, which is purported to end at 'Kansas'--more on that later. And, of course, on the way to 'Kansas' there's 'Oz.' Unfortunately this inspires some divers to sing various munchkin songs which are now stuck in our brains for the next few hours.

We all back-roll off the skiff at the count of 3 and drop down 100' on a wall where we're swept along as a few gray and white tip reef sharks (above) swim by leisurely, wondering what we're doing in their world. After drifting around in the current while watching the show, some of us missed the next point of interest on this tour--"the arch." No worries--we'll do it on the next dive when they drop us off right at the arch, and there are plenty of other 'bomies' to explore, including Oz and Kansas. There's an impressive school of double spotted queenfish (lysan) that just goes on and on. Two varieties of garden eels are in the sand patches between bomies.

When we get to Kansas (above), the field of coral (singularia) is waving in the current, looking like the field of wheat for which it's named. There's one community of life above the 'wheat' another down in the stalks.

The return to the Nai'i comes all too soon. No worries--there's another dive as soon as we finish the real breakfast. Eggs Benedict hits the spot! The second dive of the day is a variation on the first. Some choose to spend the whole time in Kansas, others of us start at the arch and end up spending the whole time there. The varieties of fish and fish behavior are too varied to describe.

Pennantfishes (Heniochus acuminatus)

Now that we've finished the second dive, it's time for lunch. Since we crossed paths with some local fishermen yesterday, lunch is wahoo tacos--fantastic! After lunch it's time for ... a dive of course!

The entertainment for this dive is to entice cleaner shrimp to floss our teeth. This involves taking your regulator out of your mouth and sticking your head in the hole with the shrimp, which he happens to share with an eel. Hmmm. Several divers executed this maneuver successfully, and the moments were captured expertly for our logs by Keith Ellenbogen. After the third dive of the day, we don't have a meal--just a snack. Teriaki chicken, popcorn, and home-made cookies.

The highlights of dusk dive were a pygmy seahorse (about 1/4"!) and an octopus. There will be no night dive--we had 'only' four dives today. Gotta run, dinner is being served. Wahoo salad to start followed by Mahi Mahi or lamb curry. Then we have a kava party on the dive deck.
Another day in paradise ...


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