Day 57, Tuesday 21 Feb 2012, Malapascua
Today was 2102 2012 – If I had been home in New Zealand, this would have been a photography day, one of those cool dates that need to be documented somehow. But anyway, I did something way better!
Up at 4.00 AM, coffee, stagger about and then walk to the dive shop along the dark sand hoping that stingy, bitey “things” were not under my shoeless feet !
This morning was the deep dive that is one of the two compulsory dives for the advanced open water certificate I started yesterday (the other is the navigation dive). Co-incidentally the most famous dive at Malapascua, and the main reason people come here is at Monad Shoal, where you get to see thresher sharks and this is a deep dive so perfect for training.
The boat ride to Monad takes about an hour and a half and we got to watch the sunrise on the way out, I took a couple of photos but they were crap. The thresher sharks live way down in the deep and the reef off of Monad is one of the places they call home. Early in the morning they rise up to the shallows to be cleaned by cleaner wrasse, a small fish that, well cleans ! Contrary to David Attenborough’s (apparent) opinion thresher sharks also jump out of the water to clean themselves and I was fortunate to witness this twice, albeit at a distance, but seeing a shark (especially a thresher with its massive tail) jump is pretty cool!
The dive itself was tough, there was a strong current and this was my first time to 30 metres and I did get a bit of mask squeeze, though I was able to release it by loosening the strap – I found out later how to do it properly by blowing through the nose, which is pretty damn obvious. We also had to do a few of the exercises for the PADI deep dive certification. however, the reason we were here was to see sharks and we were not disappointed!
Visibility was a bit crap but we clearly saw 5-6 threshers, 1 quite closely and a couple did a circuit around our spot on the bottom. It was very cool, they are magnificent creatures, with the massive tail. All too soon our time was up and we headed for the surface. I could have stayed a lot longer !
After the thresher dive it was back to the main island for a couple of hours where I grabbed breakfast and a couple of provisions and was back to the shop for 8.45 (yes it was still early) and we headed out for the second dive of the day at the wreck of the Dona Marylin. A wreck dive was also part of my course and something I was very keen to do. The Marylin went down in a typhoon twenty or so years ago with the loss of about thirty lives, so is not the most popular dives amongst the local dive masters. Again visibility was pretty low at five or so metres, but the dive was great, we did not go into the vessel – that requires a whole bunch of training – which I can really understand, but enjoyed the dive immensely – there is a lot to see on a wreck, so many recognisable things, like chains and wheels all covered in shells and small corals.
After lunch we dived Gato Island. Again crap visibility, unusual apparently for the site. As part of this dive I did the navigation test, along with a Finnish guy who was more unco in the water than me ! Me, looking rather feral and in need of a shave!
This reef dive has a number of white tip reef sharks and we saw the first almost as soon as we hit the water, for some reason I was completely at ease with the concept of diving with sharks, these are totally different to the threshers, who were only visiting the shoals for a clean, the reef sharks live (and feed) on the reef. But completely ignore us, we are way too big to eat.
Jules, our dive master was trying to get us to look into a cave when she had to back out as divers were coming the other way, as I backed out I put my hand on a large sea urchin and got a couple of splinters in my fingers, not poisonous (I hope, and yes I checked) but painful at the time! We negotiated our way around to the other side of the cave and Jules beckoned me in and there was a 2.5 metre reef shark lying asleep on the bottom of the cave, with a smaller shark next to him. We stayed and watched, me in complete awe, for a couple of minutes – it was just AMAZING. Highlight of the day ! all the other sights, the navigation test, the moral eels, the lion fish – everything paled into comparison to the site of a shark sleeping – stunning !
After the dive and the boat back to Malapascua, I had a great pizza dinner on the beach with the Canuks, Mike and Matt, a couple of beers and went to bed – a happy man ! Thresher Sharks and a sleeping reef shark, who could want more from a day.
Sharks – one more fear conquered !
I also talked to an English couple at the bar who have dived for years and everywhere and they said Mozambique is THE place to go…
Staying on the post rock theme, Scotland’s Mogwai are another of the big guns and one of the older groups, forming in 1995 and still gigging. The majority of their tracks are instrumental, though they do some great vocal tracks, including a stunningly good cover of Guns and Roses, “don’t you cry” – only on a John Peel session and 1 of my top 10 songs of all time. I have a few Mogwai albums and their sound varies between each, some I like and some I don’t. Unusually, I really like the last album from 2011, “Hardcore will never die, but you will”. This is possibly also my most favourite album title of all time and I had a sticker of it on my last car. (Though I will say punk band Chaotic Discords 1986 album “goat f**king virgin killers from hell” is pretty awesome as well.)
This track “I know you are, but what am I?” is from the 2003 album “ Happy songs for happy people”