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Drawing Down the Moon

After just barely getting away from the Pillars of Shadow with my skin, I’m taking advantage of a little down time at Nineball Island to pick up the guitar and do some serious brooding. That crab thing in the Zahhab Region Depths has started to bug me. According to the maps, there’s only one place it could be, but after diving at all times of day with different partners, I still come up a cropper. Looking up at the night sky, I wonder if it all has something to do with the moon.
After all, there have been other things in the game that depended on the phases of the moon. It was on a moonless night that I discovered the shadow that turned into the legendary Black Harbinger. Another time I had to wait a month for a full moon to watch turtle eggs hatch on the beaches of Zahhab. Maybe this crab has a bit of the werewolf in him, and only comes out under the influence of moonlight. 
Looking directly overhead (using the telescope is hopeless), I see a half moon just above the eaves of my bungalow. Now, I can fill the time needed for the moon to turn by running tours, training dolphins, and commuting daily to the aquarium in Japan. Or I can take a lot of naps. Many naps later, the moon is full and I’m refreshed and ready to head out.
But first I want to stop off in Gatama Atoll to follow a hunch I have. Remember way back in August, when Oceana and I stumbled upon a cuttlefish spawning ground? We were invited back to see them hatch sometime during the spring tides. I’ve been back to that spot a few times since then without seeing anything, but the mention of tides is probably a clue about the moon.
And it turns out, I’m right on the nose! A cut-scene fires up over a patch of elkhorn coral that informs us that the cuttlefish eggs have hatched. Each one’s only the size of a grain of rice — you can barely see one in the right of this picture. But I love that the game rewards you for remembering about it. You don’t get baby cuttlefish in Gears of War.

Baby cuttlefish!


The real Octomoms

Now let’s head for the Red Sea. This time, I’m not going to take Oceana or Hayako with me. In between naps, I found a forgotten treasure rumor in my notebook, something about dense metals being found in the Zahhab Region Depths around 500 feet. So I’m taking GG — at least this way, if I miss the crab I can still scare up a few pelagos.

It turns out GG is who I needed by my side all along. Entering the now-familiar mouth of Osiris’ Courtyard, I doubtfully click on the sparkle that up to now has only yielded an unimpressive little angler fish. Only this time…

The elusive giant sea spider -- at last!

If it’s any consolation, it doesn’t look much like the shadow in the marine encyclopedia. While we’re in the courtyard, GG and I scan the bottom and find a few large metal boxes, one of which might be our treasure. Turns out it wasn’t, but at least I found what I was really looking for.

Just to test my moon theory, I took Oceana and then Hayako back with me to show them the sea spider — both times it wasn’t there. So it looks as though GG is my only witness to finding the little beast that had so long eluded my grasp.

...but it was right there a minute ago!


Having given up on finding a crab in Osiris’ courtyard, at least for the moment, we turn our attention to the Chamber of the Gods, which is still teeming with cryptic critters. Oceana is with me — I’ve resigned myself to taking her along as my good luck charm — and it’s midnight, when I tend to find animals I missed during the daytime. As always, finding our way into the Echoing Terrace is an exhausting exercise, especially in the dark and after six months spent on dry land. But after arriving at the east hall, finding the first few fish is relatively easy and sedate.

First we find the prehistoric-looking frilled shark lounging in the corner pocket of the chamber, around D1.

Frilled shark

Rounding the corner and down the stairs into the Altar of Osiris, along the left wall I find the black pyramid butterflyfish and the too-tiny-to-photograph whitespotted boxfish.

Black pyramid butterflyfish

 Continuing west along the north hall, we run smack into a cave-in. Fortunately, amongst the rubble we find a trio of hot-pink painted frogfish, who look like their whispering about me.

Painted frogfish, conspiring

Next we execute that slick maneuver of descending through a trapdoor behind a statue of Horus, bypassing the Subterranean Reception Room with its many hungry spider crabs, and up through the ceiling into the Pillars of Shadow. Turning north here, we’re met with the impressive sight of the thickest concentration of Coelacanths ever witnessed. If, like me, you grew up fascinated by the discovery of this impossibly rare and ancient fish in the waters of the Black Sea, and assumed there were maybe one or two of them in existence, it’s mind-boggling to see so many packed in one place. All the more amazing that only one of these is the legendary coelacanth our Marine Encyclopedia says we need to find — we have to paw through the crowd, asking “Are you the one? What about you?”

But we’re just starting to mingle when some uninvited guests show up to spoil the party. I’m talking, of course, about that most unhandsome of elasmobranchs, the goblin shark. More specifically, a whole passel of ’em, marauding and striking every time we try to introduce ourselves to a docile coelacanth.

G-g-goblin shark!!

I whipped out my pulsar and started zapping like crazy, and just by accident happened to tag another legendary, the ferocious Okeanos’ Guardian. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep my hands steady enough to get a clear photo of it.

Okeanos' Guardian, passing under my fins

 Eventually, I got the goblins subdued enough where I could quickly tag a few coelocanths, and eventually found the Living Fossil I was after. Yet I barely had a chance to line up a good photo op before the sharks attacked again en masse. In the middle of this, my “out of air” claxon went off. With no time left to swim out, we had to drop everything and beam back to the ship.

The Living Fossil

 For the first time since the height of the game, I was a relieved to find myself back on dry land. I suppose I should go back there to study the goblin sharks as part of my “Know Thine Enemy” series, but I wouldn’t say I’m in a rush.

If yesterday’s episode of Sea Hunt was an exercise in tedium, today’s is a deep-probing adventure. With all Gatama Atoll’s tiny critters accounted for, we turn our attention to that other frontier of fugitive fauna, the mysterious Zahhab. The Chamber of the Gods holds about a dozen undiscovered species, but the Twin Crevasses hold two creatures whose shadows are very distinctive: a long-legged crab hiding in the northeast corner of Osiris’ Courtyard, and something that looks like a feather duster in the Chimney Forests of B3, C2, and C3.
Because I don’t know where these things might be hiding, I’m trying something different tonight — the “Expert Diver” toggle. Basically, this turns gravity off completely, allowing you to turn upside down, sideways, anyway you want. Together with first-person view, it seems to get my head into tighter corners, exploring nooks and crannies from angles I couldn’t reach before. It’s also extremely disorienting — the first few minutes of turning around with this on can really be stomach-turning, nicely approximating the sensation of “rapture of the deep.” My advice is to ease into it slowly, and not right after dinner.
I’ve got Hayako with me, and turning on her fish-finder from time to time seems to calm my seasickness. The only problem is that the thing’s useless — the sensor penetrates the rock walls, picking up fish that are in other depths or tunnels we can’t reach from where we are. After some minutes of fruitless search, we head for the surface.
I return, this time with Oceana,  at sunset. I don’t know if it was in this game or somewhere else, but I’d read that deep sea creatures rise from the bottom at sunset, following the vertical migration of millions of swarming plankton toward the dwindling light. Or maybe the other way around. Chain of life, whatever. Anyway, diving with Lil’ O always seems to do the trick — at about 470 feet over the Chimney Forest, a cut scene shows us an undulating curtain of silver beads, headed by a jewellike, translucent bulb. A giant siphonophore, we’re told — not a creature in and of itself, but rather a colony of individual organisms cooperating together as a single entity — a living hive, if you will. It’s seriously spooky and awesome, like one of those weird sentient space beings Captain Kirk would try to reason with on the old Star Trek.

"Lieutenant Uhura, open a channel..."

 I spend a lot of time marvelling at this sight and trying to get a decent photo, so before we can continue it’s back to Nineball Island for more film.

Returning again, we enter through the north crevasse, the better to reach Osiris’ Courtyard without crawling through a confusing maze of tunnels. About 300 ft down, I start to notice a lot of movement below, perhaps a Risso’s dolphin caught frolicking. But no, it’s too big for that, and there’s frantic twisting and shaking. Suddenly I realize I’m looking at that most legendary of animal conflicts, the giant squid vs. the sperm whale! I believe I’d seen a cutscene of that bout once before in the game, but this is the first time I’ve happened upon it going on without me, as I assume it must have for millions of years. Wow! The second awe-inspiring sight in a single night’s play!

Whats going on down there?

Fight! Fight!

As with the giant siphonophore, I suck up a lot of oxygen and celluloid trying to savor this moment and capture it on film. Finally, I force myself to swim through the titanic struggle with only a few frames left. As it turned out, that was my excitment for the night, as we still couldn’t find the crab creature.

Not a creature was stirring...

By the way…

I want to thank everyone who wrote to say they’ve enjoyed the blog and asked such pertinent questions that went unanswered for so long. Believe me, I know what it’s like to visit a blog day after day, then week after week, and eventually month after month waiting for something, anything to change. I am sorry that as a blogger I’ve fallen into that trap myself. You guys are great, and you deserve much better.
I won’t be posting every couple of days as in the past, but I hope to at least return about once a week or so. Please stay tuned and keep sending those cards and letters!

Where’ve I been? Here and there, mostly on other games–Wii Sports Resort, Madden Football, Lego Harry Potter, a “dark period” with Goldeneye and Call of Duty, and finally, a little game called Ocarina of Time. Finally I reached a blocking point on OoT where I needed to take a break, and here I am. I’m going to try to finish out what I set out to do here, and maybe take a stab at Endless Ocean I.


…And we’re back.

After a power nap, I’ve changed into a new orange and blue wetsuit and rounded up the gang to take the Minow II out on a refresher excursion to Gatama Atoll. We’re going to find the rest of those creatures, damme, and there are no less than three right in our own backyard. My yellowed notes tell me that two small fry can be found in the “F” column of the map. I take Oceana with me and dive at sunset.

Oh man, now I’m beginning to regret coming back. This is tedious work, combing the sand for shiny spots, scanning side to side looking for something I haven’t seen before. Yet I’m still amazed at how gorgeous and detailed everything is, and I’ve picked up a few coins along the way, so it’s not a total waste of time. Finally, after going in circles just south of Donut Reef, hiding inside a clump of magenta elkhorn coral, I find a pair of oblong gobies.

The unostentatious oblong goby

Next we turn south, making a detour around Gatama Gatawa’s Island (and getting lost–shameful how rusty my compass skills have gotten on dry land) to grid F6 at the northern edge of the Cabbage Patch. This search is even more frustrating, as I keep revisiting the same coral nests over and over again only to find the same clownfish, keeping house in the same dusty anemones. The sand flats are no less fruitful, as all I find are all-you-can-eat baskets of pistol shrimp and their watchman gobies. Out of sheer boredom and disbelief, I click on one of the watchmen. Ah-hah! Sparkles! Question marks! It appears I’ve just found the monster shrimp goby, which far from monsterous is virtually indistinguishable from a regular old watchman goby.

The not-so-monstrous monster shrimp goby

Next on our list is something in the Deep Hole region, somewhere around A2, B3 or B4. It’s notoriously hard finding things in the Deep Hole because it’s, well, so deep. Those coordinates can be on any level of the hole, from 20 feet to 100. After nearly an hour of useless searching and much harassment from Sluggo, the insomniac tiger shark, we go topside. Waking refreshed at dawn, we make another go at it. Dawn over the Deep Hole is always a welcome sight, with its squadrons of Japanese eagle rays sweeping across the brightly lit coliseum. Ah well, back to work. Following every shiny glint, turning over every inch of moss and sponge, cursing every familiar anglefish and baby grouper. Really, I’d given up trying to find things with my eyes anymore, now I’m just sweeping the cursor back and forth until an “A” button tells me I’ve hit on something living. That’s just how I found this:

The unmistakable orange and black sea slug (obviously)

Do you see that there? Not the blurry clownfish, to the left, lower, just beyond the tip of its nose. That! Right in the center there. See? That is the orange and black sea slug. That is how small and inconspicuous it is. That is what I’ve been up two hours past my bedtime trying to find.

Is it too late to go back to Legend of Zelda again?

Gatama Atoll, Row 6


Now it’s time to hunt down all those fish I’ve been missing. As of now, there are still about 40 species left to discover, at least a third of which are located somewhere in Gatama Atoll. I really hadn’t been back to the placid waters of Gatama Atoll for quite awhile, and then it was in my “hurry up and finish the map” days when I didn’t take my time to explore carefully.

On my first attempt I tried bringing Hayako along, starting at square A1 and going left to right, north to south. Didn’t work. I don’t know what kind of range Hayako’s fish-dar’s got, but it isn’t much. We wound up hopping from coral head to coral head with the map spread out in front of us, scrolling through each species until we found the triple question marks we sought. It was like trying to tour your vacation spot with a road atlas open on the steering wheel—frustrating and no fun atoll (heh heh). After about five minutes I was ready to quit, so I did.

Clearly a new strategy was in order. Luckily at some point in the game the Marine Encyclopedia began revealing where each undiscovered species can be found—you just have to click on the magnifying glass icon and flip through the maps. Paging through the encyclopedia, I drew up a list of every creature I hadn’t found, noting the map coordinates where it could be located, so that it looked something like this:

Coral Reef Life 46/48

  1. Gatama Atoll E4, F4, F6
  2. Ciceros Strait A1, D1, E5

And so on. You may ask yourself, how is this funner than roving from square to square, left to right, top to bottom? I can only answer that I’m a compulsive list maker. When my wife saw me on the couch with my clipboard and printed-out list of coordinates, she really knew I’d gone off the deep end.

Judging from my list, I could see that most of the Gatama creatures I sought were concentrated on the southern portion of the map. So I would start at Row 6, Column G and work my way right to left; when I got into a target square, I’d keep my eyes open. It helped to take Oceana along, with her ability to find small creatures. This turned out to be just the ticket: within minutes I was crossing fish off my list like crazy.

I also encountered a lot of really cool stuff.  Just falling out of the boat, we blundered straight into a cuttlefish breeding frenzy. We were treated to some fascinating facts about cuttlefish, and invited to return in a few weeks when the eggs hatch.

Next we went on shore at G7 to discover the diminutive little penguin.

Little penguin mistakes my gear for a big penguin.

Back under water and a short swim to the west we find the charmingly named Randall’s pistol shrimp, sharing a foxhole with his faithful watchman goby.

Randall and his attack goby.

Then the psychedelically attired warty frogfish.

Closer to the blue cliff, we find a bluelashed butterflyfish, guarding another suprise.

Wandering around a bit more, Oceana and I found razorfish, rippled rockskippers, bluespotted jawfish, and finally, after much meticulous  searching, the weedy seadragon.

Overall, not a bad start to an animal safari.

What’s next?


Now that the Cavern of the Gods has been reopened, it’s time to start thinking about what else needs to be done. It’s not easy in an open-ended game like this to decide when you’re really finished, yet finish I must. It’s not like I’m sick of Blue World, but I would like to try some other things that are out there—like reading, and spending time with my actual family, and going outdoors now and then. So here’s a list of what I want to accomplish before I put EO back on the shelf for awhile:

  • Finding all the fish, including the legendaries. There are 41 species still left to be discovered, and until every shadow in the book has been colored in, the game’s not over. I’d also like to get all the information on each one, no matter how much I have to feed them, tickle them, or take their pictures.
  • Befriending all the dolphins—even the ones who are hogs for gifts. I don’t want Finley haunting me.
  • Training them’s not high on my list, however.
  • Finishing all the major quests, especially chasing that @&$% blue bird to earth.

As for some of the other things, I’m not so keen on completing them. If in my travels I find all the coins—great—but I’m not going to comb the seafloor looking for spare change. Getting a few more magazine covers—maybe. One million visitors at the aquarium—meh. Another million pelagos—not bloody likely.

Getting every single one of the titles—never gonna happen.


In an effort to get the Commerson’s Dolphin in the Cavern of the Gods to be my new partner, I looked carefully through Nancy’s catalog for two things that might be symbols of protection. It wasn’t easy—I wanted to find just the right thing for my lady. I finally settled on a charm and an amulet, and bought them with Pelagos I’d been saving from my little part-time job in the islands. Then I flew halfway across the world back to Zahhab, found the Echoing Terrace, entered the Stone Cavern, up the stairs up the Pillars of Light into the Celestial Mausoleum, to the god’s golden chamber to lay the symbols of protection lo! at my lady’s feet…

And now she wants something else.

Poof! go all my chivalrous notions. Oh, I can see where this is going—I’ve been there before. If I bring her what she wants now, next she’ll want something more. Guys: Women—amiright?!

So rather than use my frequent flyer miles going back and forth to Nineball Island with giftboxes on my knees, I decide to buy everything from Nancy that comes with a bow on it (after all, it’s not like I need that money for anything now). Then I return to the Cavern with the whole papa’s brand new bag. I gave her everything I had—it took a few minutes of automated demands and exchanges, during which I got up and got a beer from the fridge. Finally, she was satisfied enough to allow me to be her partner. When it came time to name her, I was tempted to call her something like “Miss Fussy,” but, perhaps softened by the grace of our friendship dance, I decided to call her Kee Kyu.


We’re back again at the Cavern of the Gods, and this time we’re in it for the loot. First though, I stop by Mushroom Rock to get a good picture of Big Boeing the whale shark, at the request of mystery man ML. Then we turn on the mulitsensor and pick up everything we find (except the Pacifica Treasure in the Celestial Mausoleum—that’s off limits). There’s a lot to pick up: nearly every room in the temple has salvageable material in it, many yielding lucretive lightning bolts. The bag fills up super fast.

Then in the Celestial Mausoleum, something weird happens. One of the Commerson’s dolphins swims right up to me and starts shouting,  “Kee kyee kyee! Kyu! Kyu! You must make an offering to the lady! She requires two symbols of protection!”

"Kee! Kyee! Kyu!! Kyu!!!

Jean-Eric is flabbergasted by this, and recalls us back to the boat straightaway. In the pilothouse, he’s throwing his hands up and shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s impossible! Dolphins can’t talk! I mean, you’re a trustworthy fellow and all; I believe you, but…you must be crazy!”

“But boss,” Hayako puts in, “we all heard the voice on the transmitter. It’s got to be true!”

“And beside,” I wish I could say, “You believed in singing dragons, and moving islands, and magic balms and all kinds of other nonsense—why not talking dolphins?”

More hand throwing and head shaking.

“Hrmmm…I-I…just don’t know! Let’s all go back to Nineball Island and talk this out.”

Okay. Back on the island, another confab around the table.

“Two symbols of protection, huh? What could that mean? Well…let’s see what Nancy’s got.”

So the upshot of all this overheated drama is that we’ve got another animal companion to recruit, and it involves buying those Christmas gift boxes Nancy’s got in her catalog.

Meanwhile, our treasure haul was enormous, including an orichalcum ingot worth 13,000 P and a flask of Amrita ointment worth 11,000. Orichalcum, as  you armchair Platonists might know, is the mythical metal found only in the Lost Continent of Atlantis. Amrita ointment conveys immortality on the applicator.

In other news, ML was happy to get his whale photo, and in appreciation, gave us a new photography gizmo—the ability to develop pictures in Black and White! Because as everybody knows, underwater photography is much better in shades of grey.

What a weird day in EO!

Do you see my little pet here, Mr. Bond?

Do you know what it is?

Tut-tut, Mr. Bond, you disappoint me. It is Megaleledone selebos, a species of octopus, native to our Antarctic regions. It injects a venom into its victims, a venom which is deadly even at sub-zero temperatures, such as we are enjoying right now…

So you see, even here in my ice fortress at the South Pole, there is no escape.

And now Mr. Bond, I expect you…to die…