4/12

Ciceros Strait, daybreak—I’m leading a tour for a guy named Eliike, whom I suspect is really Tom Cruise hiding behind a pair of aviator sunglasses and an absurd alias. He wants to see a Japanese angelshark. Alrighty then, let’s go!

I’m a little nervous because I don’t remember what an angelshark looks like. The tour takes me straight to Ciceros—no chance to consult the marine encyclopedia, no chance to draw up Hayako’s fish-finding maps. Guess I’ll just have to wing it. We start in the North Canyon and work down and across, feeding and petting fish along the way— goldeye rockfish, Mahi-mahi, red stingray, sea goldies, white tipped reef sharks, monkfish. I can tell he’s pleased, but he’s the kind of guy who only chimes once when you stop and feed fish. If I don’t find his beloved Angelsharks, I’m not going to get paid. Manta rays, hammerheads, great whites—0ne thing I notice today is that the great whites aren’t haunting the Wreck of the Emerald Lady; instead, they’re off at the Flamingo. That confirms my suspicion that old Thanatos and his gang move from place to place, shaking down the locals for protection money. Good to know for later. Still, they’re no angelsharks. We manage to intersect a right whale and hitch a ride north—that’s got to count for something, right? Marlin, trevallies, barracuda…

Finally, around the Triton Village ruins, we find angelsharks. See Tom—er, Eliike, I saved the best for last! Heh, heh! Relieved, I can now get on with my own business. I’m still missing sections on my map, so I toggle to the closeup maps by pressing “2” on my remote.  There are some gaps in the red and blue dome areas, to which we proceed forthwith. In the Red Dome, we find literally dozens of angelsharks basking in the sunlight and shallow water. Who knew? Blue Dome is carpeted with little green rays. Having filled in the maps, we return to Nineball Island.

Japanese angelshark

At the dock, the man who calls himself Eliike hands me a whopping 4,940 P—the most I’ve ever made for a single tour. Since the tour sold for 1,300, that’s a 280% tip! Must be a Scientology thing.

I’m so stoked by the tour payoff that I’m not even bummed out by the other news: Oceana isn’t sending off the charts of Ciceros Strait, so I mustn’t’ve finished it, and the magazine rejected my photo of the western bank of the Cortica River. On a scale where, I assume, a top photo is an ‘A’, I got an ‘E’—ouch! Still, they paid me 1,000 P for my trouble. I wish all rejection slips came with a check.

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