We say hello to a Leopard Shark
Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
273Trip End Oct 08, 2008
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For one, the dollar has tanked. In January of 2007, it was 38 baht to the dollar. In April of 2008, it is almost 31. This is the worst exchange drop so far, almost a quarter. This is fine for little purchases, but for 10,000 baht diving packages it adds a couple hundred dollars to the price. So we talked to the dive guys and they said we could do our dive course in pieces. Five individual adventure dives make an advanced open water diver. So we signed up for two local dives with a small instruction piece. We did a deep dive and a naturalist dive.
Open Water certifies you to go down to 18m
We went diving with a small dive shop in town. This meant it was just the two of us with our instructor, and he could pick the dive sites. We had to do some homework from the book, and set up our own gear (something we hadn't done since way back in Honduras).
When you dive deep, you use your air much more quickly, so generally have less dive time. But more importantly, you are in danger of nitrogen narcosis. This is like being drunk underwater. Slow reaction time, tunnel vision, and an occasional desire to offer your mouthpiece to passing fish because they're drowning. Our instructor says he hears voices. Unfortunately, I didn't feel much. Before we went down, he drew a 5x5 grid with the numbers 1-25 scattered randomly. We had to touch each of the numbers in order (harder than it sounds) while he timed us.
When the water is really clear, its hard to tell whether you're at 10m or 30m. But the visibility was bad, meaning you really felt how far you were going down into the darkness
After all that lesson stuff was out of the way, we got down to the business of enjoying our dive. And some dive it was. This was my first wall dive, where we were diving along a sheer rock wall. It is an incredible feeling to look UP the wall and see fish swimming above you and the sunlight filtering down. I couldn't tell whether I was narced or just happy. But then we saw the sea turtle munching on coral. That was cool.
But not as cool as the leopard shark that come into view travelling the opposite direction. Leopard sharks aren't streamlined like black tips but kind of... melted like nurse sharks. Their back fin comes to a point almost like an eel, and they move with an undulating motion. As we hovered to watch it swim out of sight, another one came into view. This one was more curious, moving past us three times. On the third pass, the shark swished past within arm's reach. An amazing feeling.
We finished the dive with a swim through a cave
We took our surface interval in Maya Bay, watching a sea turtle come up for air occasionally. For our naturalist dive, we talked about the different kinds of fish and what we would see. Erin had a slate to draw on. Despite our naturalist intentions, we didn't see many impressive creatures on the second dive. Just a scorpionfish and a giant pufferfish. Still, it was a good dive.
Now we have to go back to the air-breathing half of the world.