Category: Legendary Creatures


3/30

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.

3/27
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...

7/7

On my second return to the Cavern of the Gods, I’ve decided to take Felix the false killer whale with me. That way, if I run out of air he can tow me back to the surface more quickly than I can swim.

Right at the entrance, directly in front of us is an ascending stone staircase. I don’t know how I missed it the first time, but I did. This leads immediately to the upper level of the temple, to the Pillars of Light. How in the world did I miss this? These silt-shrouded columns are like the trees of an enchanted forest, teeming with strange sealife. Pods of sleek black and white Commerson’s dolphins and albino humpback whales, including the Singing Dragon herself, unharmed by the rampage that wrecked the temple. Swimming up a pillar, I discover a Nomura’s jellyfish, floating near the ceiling like a grand chandelier.

Commerson's dolphin

The Singing Dragon

Nomura jellyfish

Through a skylight in the ceiling I pass straight into the Celestial Mausoleum. It’s all there as it was before: the windlass, the animal statues, the golden god that sits in the vault, with the Pacifica treasure spread at his glittering feet. Months ago, I’d barely gotten a glimpse at that statue before everything started coming apart.

In the lap of the gods.

I no sooner lay eyes on the Pacifica Treasure than Jean-Eric gets on the phone and urges me to leave it alone. According to him, they’ve received an offer from the mysterious Karia Foundation to undertake the salvage; they’ll pay us 50,000 p not to touch a thing. It’s hard to pass up treasure when my mutlisensor is going crazy, but okay. Back on Ninball Island I’m gifted with a frogman suit for leaving well enough alone.

7/5

After 124 hours and 58 minutes of gameplay, I’ve returned to the Cavern of the Gods.

I forgo taking a tour there—this is a family affair, no vacationing bonds traders or rockstars need apply. We will, however, take salvage requests, and a nice lady in a pink and brown wet suit is seeking a gold watch somewhere in the inner chambers of the temple.  This mission is pure exploration, but while we’re exploring, we can turn the multisensor on from time to time and help her find it.

Together with GG, we dive off the Super Dropoff and head west. The water’s murkier than I remember; it takes a while to find the box-shaped slot called the Echoing Terrace that leads into the temple porch. There we find the Stone Cavern Entrance on the left side, magically thrown open. Tingling with excitement, I turn on first-person view and plunge forward.

What do I remember about this place? The last time we were here, all hell was in the process of breaking loose. A white whale, the Singing Dragon of our long quest, was going berserk, slamming its head against the columns holding up the roof of the temple. Rocks were tumbling around our ears and we were almost out of oxygen, trying open escape doors by solving complicated riddles as the clock was running down on our lives. Beyond that, there was a confusing maze of passageways, with a dead end or a sudden current or a goblin shark waiting around the corner. I was simply too panicked to pay attention to my surroundings. When we finally escaped and the entrance filled in with rubble and silt, it was like a curtain going down on my memory. I will barely know what to expect once we get back in.

Inside the entrance, we turn to the right to head north, beginning a counter-clockwise survey of the temple. What immediately greets us is an opah, an immense round fish with silver flanks and red fins. Shaped like sunfish but more closely related to oarfish, pictures can’t convey how large, splendid and doofy-looking these are.

Opah!

 After rounding a corner, on our left is a vast doorway. We descend a wide stone staircase into the first of the large chambers, the Altar of Osiris. At the far end, there’s a huge statue of the god, gazing benevolently on a roomful of worshipful ribbonfish.

Osiris

Turning around to exit, we find a pale Japanese horseshoe crab, lying there on the stairs like Cinderella’s cast-off slipper (if, y’know, Cinderella had really weird feet).

Next we come to the Altar of Horus, which looks identical to the other altar, except that here there’s a trapdoor hidden behind the statue leading into the Subterranean Reception Room. Guarding the passageway is one of the creatures I’d always hoped to see—the ancient chambered nautilus! Common in gift shops but rarely found alive in the sea, I’d been fascinated by this evolutionary throwback ever since I saw a Cousteau special about them. (Now I sound like my tour clients!) Although I’m anxious to see what’s beyond the door, there’s no way I’m going to pass up this moment without swimming around the nautilus, taking pictures of this living fossil from multiple angles.

Chambered nautilus

Through the door and down, our subterranean reception committee consists of two ghostly Japanese spider crabs, waving their claws (invitingly?) at us.

There’s another trap door at the far end of this chamber. Passing up through it, we enter the floor of the Altar of Isis. According to the map, it’s roughly here that we should find the gold watch. But before I can search for it, I see a shadow pass over us. This is Kraken Jr., the son of the giant squid that lives at the bottom of the Zahhab Region depths. I guess he couldn’t handle living by dad’s rules, so he got his own place.

Kraken, Jr.

Finding the gold watch proves to be a bit difficult, but we eventually find it just on the threshold of the trapdoor that lead us into the altar. Leaving the chamber and turning right, there’s another staircase that leads up to a loft area called the Pillar of Shadow. Here are the coelacanths I remember from before. According to the map, this should lead into the Celestial Mausoleum, but I can’t find an entrance. I’d explore further, but I’m out of pictures and nearly out of air.

I promised myself that we were going to swim out of the cavern—no beaming back to the Enterprise this time. There’s a shortcut to the southern gallery that leads us straight out of the temple, but it’s blocked by rubble, apparently in the whale-quake that brought the temple crashing down many months ago. Other attempts to find a quick way out are met with obstacles. There’s nothing left to do but retrace our path through the trapdoors to the northern gallery. As notch after notch of precious air evaporates, I begin to get that closed-in, panicky feeling in my gut that I last felt when we all dashed out of this ancient Egyptian death trap.

Eventually, we gain the exit and power swim out of the temple, out of the cavern to the open sea. My head breaks the surface just as the alarm starts to clang. Again we’ve cheated death and escaped the Cavern of the Gods, but we still have another half to explore.

6/10

Gatama Atoll—I’m about 25,000 shy of 1 million Pelagos. Now that I’m this close to opening the Chamber of the Gods, it’s tempting to indulge in nonstop treasure orgies to gobble up money as fast as possible. But frankly, I’m tired of salvaging, and I wouldn’t mind if I never set fin in Valka Castle again. So I’ve decided to put the multisensor away and try to earn honest money by any other means.

In fact, today I’m not looking for money at all—I’m just trying to get the Pacific white-sided dolphin to be my friend.  The trouble is, this dolphin—whom I’ve already named Violet—is pathologically shy. You have to approach it  “Red Pony” style,  slowly earning its trust. This actually makes it one of the more realistic quests, because it doesn’t rely on any tricks. No whistles, no rescue efforts—just old-fashioned perseverance.

Of course, this means I have to make multiple trips back to its habitat around the Deep Hole in Gatama Atoll. So we’ve basically set up camp on the boat, sleeping on deck and returning to Nineball Island only to develop pictures. It’s been tremendously relaxing in  a way, like setting up a tent in your backyard for a sleepover, and it’s given me a chance to do one of my around-the-clock ecological surveys that I love so well.

Sunset—The water takes on a hazy glow as bigfin reef squid dart through the kelp leaves like shuttles in a loom.  Pee Wee, the pygmy sperm whale, comes out of the Deep Hole for an evening swim around the Colosseum.

Pee Wee out for an evening swim

Unfortunately, so does Sluggo, the tiger shark. 

Sluggo

I’ve tried to draw up a “Know Thine Enemy” about Sluggo, but he’s too unpredictable. After a daytime appearance early in the game, he now only emerges at sundown, and he never seems to attack as long as you keep your eyes on him. The moment you turn your back and try to move away, he starts to close in, but when he’ll strike is hard to predict. I’ve known him to leave me alone throughout an entire dive; other times he’ll strike two or three times, even with frantic pulsing. It’s almost as if he has moods, and if you catch him in a bad one, he’ll make sure you know about it.

Did I mention that Sluggo is rather large?

Then there’s the pod of five or six Pacific white-sided dolphins that fly all over Deep Hole. I suspect that they’re the real terrors on this reef, scaring the smaller fish away until only a few lost-looking moorish idols are left. And damn, they’re fast—it took me a long time just to single out Violet by her white, hook-shaped dorsal fin. Somehow, Pee Wee, Sluggo and the dolphins are all able to stay constantly in motion around each other without colliding.

Violet

Midnight—The midnight shift is very much like sunset, although Sluggo appears more sedate—perhaps, contrary to popular belief, sharks do sleep now and then. The dolphins, on the other hand, are still bouncing on their beds.

I’ve taken Hayako with me, and her fish-finder indicates an undiscovered creature moving slowly around the Mouth of Truth. I look carefully for it without success. The only thing I see in that range is the ocean sunfish, and it couldn’t be ol’ Sol, could it? I click on him, and magically crusty ol’ Sol transforms into the resplendant Apollo, a golden-hued legendary creature that the native Paolians think is the personification of the sun. Why Sol, you old sea dog, you!

Apollo

Dawn—At dawn, a squadron of Japanese eagle rays take up their formation, circling over slow-moving unicorn fish blanched pale green by the morning sunlight. The light is so strong that I can see directly down the Deep Hole all the way to the bottom. It’s too hard to resist—I take out my multisensor and scan for a few treasures (that didn’t last long). Later, I try to keep up with the dolphins—they’re too fast for me. Using the whistle, I’m able to draw Violet close enough to click on her, but she’s not ready to swim with me yet.

Morning rays

Noon—At noon, the light is more diffuse, the blues so saturated that I’d almost think the sky above the water must be overcast, if that were only possible. Sol is his old self again, shrunken, doddering, nothing at all like the sun. I pursue Violet one more time, but she’s still playing hard to get. I’ll have to come back to Deep Hole another day. Ah well!

Back on Nineball Island, Jean Eric tells me that I’ve got an e-mail from the magazine I sent my photos to. (BTW, how does he know what’s in my  inbox? I guess since he’s the point man, the magazines cc him, but it’s still kind of creepy.) Anyway, Maritime Weekly liked my photo of a leafy seadragon—it rated an “A” and a cover! I tried something different this time, and if it works again, I may be on to something.

Next I had Nancy appraise the whopping two items we found in the Deep Hole. Before she left, she passed along a note from ML, of all people! I thought we’d never hear from him again, but here he is asking for a photo of a whale shark in Gatama Atoll. “Oh wow!” shouts Oceana, “I can’t believe a professional photographer wants our photographs!” Yeah, I can’t believe it, either—better get a copyright watermark on that photo, pronto!

But their treasure wasn’t gold. It was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure. — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

6/3

Cortica River—My indifference to the Cortica River part of the game is well-documented (i.e., repetitive and  boring), but lately that’s were some of the most interesting things have been discovered.

I was on a routine salvage hunt a couple of weeks ago when, after finding the Diamond Telescope, I decided to amble downstream with the  multi-sensor to see what else I could pick up. Scanning the Cortica riverbottom turns out to be some fun, as it’s often a challenge to reach through a thicket of roots or electric eels to get at your glittering prize. At one point I picked up an unassuming canonball and took it home. Polished off, it proved to be a crystal skull, and while it didn’t glow, buzz, read my mind or turn into a super-magnet, it drew a respectable 10,000 Pelagos on the collector’s market.

The next discovery began a few days later, when I awoke from a nap and passed Jean-Eric on the way to the beach. “Perfect timing,” he muttered, folding his newspaper. You can always tell something’s up when Cappy’s been reading the paper.

“It says here a monster’s been sighted in the Cortica River. Witnesses say the creature is pitch black, is seen only on rainy days when the river is running fast. Something about a gigantic black thing. You should check it out.”

For various reasons, I didn’t get around to looking for it until last night. Rain was pelting the river, as it usually is, and you can see the little rings made by the raindrops from under the water—a nice effect. Heading upstream, I kept stopping to announce that I thought something was watching me, then I turn around and nothing’s there. It’s all very ominous—is there some new maneater or Creature from the Black Lagoon I’m going to meet up with? 

My path eventually takes me to Queen Lake. Suddenly…rising from the depths…a black form takes shape…and materializes into…a big fat manatee. Oh Cortica, once again you disappoint me! Mama Cortica, so we’re told, is a benevolent spirit on the river, saving capsized fishermen, uniting young lovers, and frying up cassava cakes for all the children. Very nice, but what was all that about a big black monster? Who reported that story, Don Knotts?

Mama Cortica

Yes, the Cortica River is a queer place, but I’ve saved the best and queerest for last. I was taking a woman named Lisa on a trip to see the Piraibo catfish at the mouth of the temple. Bored, I decided to investigate a rumor that there was a secret hole in the riverbank. This isn’t part of the story, but apparently a glitch in the game programming that was reported by several witnesses on the GameFaqs message board.  In first-person view, you swim up to the left of Spirit Falls, just where there’s a clump of vines growing in the corner. Then you surface, turn to the left, and there it should be—a rent in the space-time continuum. I’d attempted this trick several times in the past, but hadn’t had any success. I was beginning to think this was an anomaly on only some people’s games, but tonight there it was—a jarring, jagged hole in the screen, and through it I see…OH GOD! IT’S FULL OF STARS!

A rabbit hole in the riverbank.

Not exactly, but an endless stretch of open water under a clear Amazonian sky. Dive again and you’re faced with the riverbank, but here’s the cool part—you can penetrate through the wall into the open water on the other side! Swim in any direction, it seems to go on forever and is impossibly deep. Turn around to look back, and below and above the water you see paradoxical vistas of twisted pixellation, semitransparent walls, and cutaway sections of the river.

Looking back on the rabbit hole (arrow)

Hello, Dali!

It’s like an out-of-the-body experience. I can see Lisa staring uncomprehendingly at the empty space where I used to be. Jean-Eric frantically shouts that I’ve lost my partner, but I don’t care—I’m free! I’m transcendent! I’m outside the game looking in.

The riverbank and the 'other side'; Lisa left behind.

After a few minutes of this I pierce the wall again and return to the game, then disappear through the portal once more to see if it still works. It does, and I can reenter the game through King Amaru’s Aqueduct, or I imagine, through any point I choose.

X-ray view of King Amaru's Aqueduct

There’s really no point in looking for fish and treasure now, so I drag us home to develop the pictures I took on the other side. Lisa is sorely pissed that I left her behind; she reads me the riot act and leaves in a snit with no tip. She’s right—I’ve violated my principle of always satisfying the customer—but honestly, I couldn’t care less. I’ve just passed into the twilight zone, and saw that it was awesome.

The Cortica River has just become a lot more interesting.

5/10
Ciceros Strait—Off on a salvage request to find the Diamond Watch, then GG and I combed the strait looking for treasure. I’ve learned that a lot of the best stuff lies scattered far from the wrecks themselves. We finished our tour at the Emerald Lady, where I tried a technique of inviting the sharks to assault me, zapping them as they charged. I got beat up some, but eventually they gave me enough elbow room to seize a few treasures and fill out the bag. It was actually kind of fun. In total, we raked in about 11,000 P.
 
Afterwards, I took Hayako with me into the northeast area of the map looking for new creatures. A ‘???’ appeared on the fishmap, with a tiny red dot moving incredibly fast in a wide circuit across the North Canyon. Streaking past, it appeared to be a particularly athletic Atlantic sailfish, one that seemed impossible to catch. Each time I tried to chase it, it immediately outpaced me, disappearing like an arrow in the distance. I had to abandon that tactic and hang back, tracking the bogey on Hayako’s radar, edging into its path, waiting for the chance to intercept it. After several lunges, I managed to get my cursor on it and fire. Presto! It’s Gungnir, a legendary sailfish named after Odin’s magic spear in Norse Mythology. He owes his incredible speed to overdeveloped muscles; with his battered spike he’s staved in many a fisherman’s hull. 

Gungnir

5/6

North Canada Coast—We fled to Canada to find Finley’s beluga* and stayed awhile.

We found our pod of belugas under Ice Hole B4. We were looking for one with a spot pattern in the shape of a flower—easier said than done, as there are a lot of belugas, they move around very quickly, and the markings we’re looking for don’t exactly leap out at you. It’s a bit like the quest for the red-tusked narwhal—it takes sharp eyes and a quick clicker-finger to catch the right one. Eventually, I latched on to him and, using the whistle, engaged in a duet. Considering his gift for song and, well, the fact that he’s a beluga, I can’t think of a better name for him than Raffi, after the kid’s folk singer whose hit  “Baby Beluga” was in very heavy rotation in our house when my son was a toddler.

Bay-bee be-loo-ga! Bay-bee be-loo-ga!

After bringing Raffi into the fold, Hayako and I continued to investigate the other ice holes. Looking at the Marine Encyclopedia the other day, I noted that a large number of the undiscovered species in the book were located in the Arctic, so I thought this would be a good time to get familiar with a region I don’t visit very often. We dive at sunset.

At Hole D1,2 we found our narwhals again, but the Greenland shark who usually harrasses us here was hanging back. Once we got north of the hole, he was up to his old tricks, charging us, running away and circling a few minutes before making another charge. There are more Greenlanders in the open range between holes along the northern border of the map, in C1, A1 and A2. Unlike the great whites, they’re solitary nomads. I guess I need to draw up another Know Thine Enemy for Greenland sharks.

Greenland sharks are solitary nomads

Topside at Hole D1,2 we find a suprise—sea otters diligently dining on their tummy-tables.

On the rim of Hole A1 we find  Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers, which I wasn’t able to find on one of my recent photo requests. Why anyone would want a photo of one of these things is beyond me—they look just like—well, look at them:

Atlantic spiny lumpsuckers

At Hole AB2 we found the legendary Ice Cupid—a kind of large sea angel, which loads an unsettling cut-scene where Jean-Eric tells me the Ice Cupid is a love charm and did I know that Oceana reallly looks up to me (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? Uh, Jean-Eric—did YOU know that your granddaughter’s right there in the boat next to you and can hear every word you’re saying as you blatantly try to set us up? Maybe your imagination should get a room.

I had originally wanted to stay and do an around-the-clock survey of the life of the North Canada Coast, but we were out of film and hey—when was the last time I made any money? Before leaving we check out the topside around Hole CD3. The sky is clear, there are bearded seals lying around like drunks at the end of a party. The sun has disappeared behind the horizon, sending out a strange vertical ray that points like a beacon towards the darkening sky. I’ve heard of the green flash at sunset, but not this. I’d take a picture of it, but I haven’t any film left.

*By the way: Why do they call it “beluga” caviar, anyway? Belugas are mammals and don’t lay eggs. Caviar comes from sturgeon—and they look nothing like belugas. What’s up with that?

7/26

Ciceros Strait—After taking another beating from the sharks around the Emerald Lady while trying to retrieve a treasure request, I decided to do a field study, which I’m publishing here under the title,

Spatiotemporal Patterns of White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Predation in the Ciceros Strait Region, Aegean Sea

Research Goal: To test my hypothesis that there’s a single pack of white sharks that moves from place to place, and that if I can predict where the sharks will (or more to the point, will not) be at a certain time and place, I can salvage to my heart’s content without being molested by the finny fiends.

Method: I first checked the distribution of great whites in the Ciceros region with my Marine Encyclopedia and determined that they can be found at three principle locations: C1 (Wreck of the Flamingo), E1 & 2 (Pride of Athens, North Canyon), and H7 (The Emerald Lady). I then visited all three sites at different times of day (sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight) in the company of Hayako Sakurai, Ph.D., who kept the shark location data, and recorded the occurence and behavior of white sharks in these vicinities.

Findings:

Flamingo (C1)—Great whites are here at sunrise and noon, but after sunset migrate east to the North Canyon region. At sunset and midnight, the breakfast club yields this territory to nocturnal sand tiger sharks, unhandsome but harmless.

Great whites off the Flamingo, noon

Sand tiger, Flamingo, midnight

 Pride of Athens (E1)—At sunrise and noon, no sharks at all appear, but at sunset, the great whites, pursuing shoals of bluefin tuna from the west, arrive on this site, where they soon forget the bluefins and feast on human flesh with voracious abandon. At midnight, the whites expand their feeding ground to the North Canyon (E2)—there, amid winding benthic walls, the unwary traveller is prey to their pitiless ferocity. 

Emerald Lady (H7)—No time of day, not even midnight on Christmas Eve, is safe from their relentless marauding. Unless they can be in two places at once, the sharks here appear to be distinct from their brethren to the north. At sunset and noon, the common carchardons are accompanied by the legendary Thanatos. He participates in the slaughter in the blood-red hours of sunset, while at noon, you can often see him skulking around the periphery, supervising things from afar. Between midnight and daybreak I never saw him. Indeed, at daybreak, the white shark population around the Emerald Lady seems to be at its lowest ebb. At least until you show up.

Hell yes, I crapped my wetsuit!

Conclusions:

  • There are two distinct packs of white sharks—the northern pack, which migrates west and east during the day; and the southeastern pack, which circles the Emerald Lady.
  • Best time to visit the Flamingo is after sunset.
  • Best time to visit the Pride of Athens is during daylight hours.
  • No time is safe for visitors to the Emerald Lady. However, if you arrive early in the morning and aggressively pulsar the first sharks to appear, you may gain up to 60 seconds worth of salvage time before the rest bear down. I was able to bring up about 4 items with minimal mauling this way.
  • At all costs, do not visit this region at sunset, when Thanatos is on the loose.

Some other observations about sharks:

  • Dolphins, despite all those Flipper episodes to the contrary, will not save you from sharks. They are cowards who will desert you at the first sign of trouble. (Hey, it had to be said.)
  • The “Danger” species are: Great white, tiger, greenland, bluntnose six-gill, and goblin. All others are harmless.
  • Zapping sharks with the pulsar gun works for a good long time in all species except the great whites and greenlanders.
  • If the sharks attack while you’re searching for treasure, the “Danger” sign will interfere with your multisensor. You won’t be able to retrieve a treasure even when it’s right in front of your face. Zap, get away and reapproach the site.
  • Staying in motion will help you avoid sharks most of the time, but not always.
  • Dodging rarely works.
  • Just be thankful they don’t eat you.

4/17

Ciceros Strait—There’s been some strange activity reported in Ciceros Strait lately. Explorers using the charts we drew have seen a dark shadow on the sea near North Canyon, and treasure hunters are converging in the center of the region for reasons unknown. If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? L&L Diving Services, that’s who!

The marlin are strangely restless

Unfazed by our encounter with the phantom of Valka Castle, Oceana and I now set out in search of the mysterious shadow. We roam throughout the northeast corner of the map. I’m pretty sure this will turn out to be another legendary creature, but who knows? The marlin seem strangely agitated, and the jack mackerals are grouping in thicker swarms. Could our shadow be an unusually dense shoal of fish? To the west we swim over a wreck, the Pride of Athens, which I could swear wasn’t there before. Is the shadow the oil slick from a new shipwreck?  In the northeast corner of the map, there’s a rock outcropping shaped like a ship’s prow, jutting out over a dizzying dropoff. Is a new island emerging from the sea bed? Whatever it is, we should expect a cutscene to fire up and dispell the mystery, but none comes. It would help if we actually saw this blot on the map, but no. Flabbergasted, it looks like we’re going to have to go back to Nineball and reread that clue.

Oh—it’s in SOUTH Canyon, not North Canyon. Duh. I can find treasure from a few squiggles on a piece of map, but I can’t get my compass directions straight? It’s a humbling experience. Okay, back we go to dive off East Ciceros Undines, head south a few meters, and reveal what’s causing the shadow: Oceana has sworn me to secrecy, and besides, I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I won’t tell you what we saw. Let me just say I wish I had watched the cutscene  more carefully, because when I hurriedly ended it to use the camera, it disappeared.

With that excitement over, I deputize GG to see why these treasure hunters are poaching on our territory. We never actually catch them in the act, of course, so no spearguns drawn in the streets of Triton Village, I’m sorry to say. Only some tedious multisensoring that yields a few large containers, mysterious chests, and purple lightning bolts. Back at Nineball, among the junk Nancy appraises for us we get the Crusader’s Loot, which nets 12,500 P—the second largest treasure in the game so far.

Oceana reports that the L&L salvaging profile is rising still further, maps are flying off the shelves and we’re aiming at world domination (her words). In the flush of this new zeal, O has done a little shopping—she found me a pair of “military fins” (presumably for this world domination thing coming up), and bought herself a purse in the shape of a sea pig.