The Remora Attack
My first dive of this trip was dive number 12 for me. In total. Yep. Since last week's trip, I am now at dive 29, and I am pretty proud of how far I have come!
Anyway, my very first dive of the trip, and I was with Dive leader, Diego. As we swam along, I saw what I thought was a Remora swim by. I thought how unusual it was to see it swimming alone, not near, or attached to, the underbelly of some large, host marine animal. It was at least as long as my arm. I did NOT know a lot about remoras; I knew they attached themselves to the underside of large animals like sharks to eat the scraps they leave behind...but I wasn't entirely sure how (teeth?).
A few seconds later I look behind me, and see the remora coming... STRAIGHT. AT. ME. I mean, it was LOOKING at me, and coming fast! I turned around to defend myself, and tried to flick it away with a fin kick, but it would not be deterred. It ducked and weaved around my flailing fins - which were difficult to control effectively in the water for this purpose - he just kept coming at me. All I could think, was the possibility of it having rows of sharp, circular teeth for attaching to a host (like lamprey in the great lakes - look them up, they are the stuff of nightmares). It was a very intense hand-to-fin combat, and I was in a panic and a free ascent (not good), when Diego took my shoulders to face him and made the flat hand motion to calm down and breathe slowly. He conveyed with his eyes calm control (which made him look stoned - a detail I appreciated afterward), but I was now in full panic mode, and desperately looking around to see where the devil-fiend went. Nowhere in sight now. Diego motioned the calm, easy breathing again, and took my hand to continue the dive.
Slowly my breathing returned to normal, but I was watching all the time for the return of the remora. As we returned to the boat, Diego pointed out a Caribbean Reef Shark that was swimming lazily around the reef. He was beautiful. It really was peaceful. That was the first shark I ever saw in the water. With me. And I wasn't afraid (although I may have sidled up a little closer to Diego).
Back on the boat, Ellen, another diver, told me about a remora that attached itself to her chest on a dive one or two years previously. They just have a suction cup (#fishaware), and he had hung out with her for her entire dive, and reluctantly released when she gently encouraged him off her body so she could get back on the boat.
So I guess I was lucky it chose me, and lost the cool opportunity to dive with a remora attached to my chest. Huh. Who knew?
But more than that, I learned two other things:
The Shark Feed
I was surprised to discover that I did not feel any fear while watching the shark dive. I felt awe. They must be one of the most beautiful and graceful creatures that I have ever seen. A couple days later, when the Captain asked if we would be interested in a second shark dive, I was the first one to jump at the chance! So LOVE these guys!
If you look closely in the video, you will see that Finnigan made an appearance for this meal (around 14 second mark).
Who is Finnigan? Finnigan lost his dorsal fin at a young age; it is speculated that he may have been a victim of the barbaric "finning" practice (dorsal fin cut off to make soup), and tossed back in the ocean to die. Miraculously he survived. Not only did he survive, but he has grown into a strong dominant shark. I'm glad he made it.
I am told that the soup isn't even very good.
Our cabin featured a very comfortable king size bed, and a 3-piece bathroom (the stand-up shower was roomy). There were no restrictions on bathing; we could use as much hot water as we wanted, since the Aqua Cat filters its own water through a 3 step osmosis filtering system.
Towels were provided, and our room was cleaned and bed made every day. We really were spoiled beyond anything we expected. The only challenge was finding a dry bathing suit to wear as we spent so much time in the water!
The Dive Deck
The dive deck was immaculate and amazingly well organized. Granted, this was my first liveaboard scuba trip, but there was a lot of thought that went into making this space work efficiently for the divers.
We each had our own space for gearing up. Our gear didn't have to be taken down after each dive; they rinsed us off with warm fresh water as we exited the water, we took off our BCD/tank, and simply unscrewed the valve so that the crew could re-fill our tanks before the next dive. BCD off, and walk away for a snack from the salon. That easy. Loved it. We are so spoiled now!
There were towels specifically for the divers, for the crew, and for cameras. After the cameras spent time soaking in a fresh water bath, they were laid on a table in the centre of the dive deck where we could retrieve them for our next dive.
There was a dry charging station with multiple outlets for charging flashlights and camera batteries.
Chef Brian and Sous-Chef Mishka did an outstanding job - when he called over the intercom system that a meal was ready we usually came running; diving builds quite an appetite, and his cooking was amazing! The space in the dining salon was spacious and comfortable.