Category: Ciceros Strait


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

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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.

4/19

Ciceros Strait—Two tours take us back to Ciceros Strait once again.

Ebiike was stuck in rush-hour traffic one day when he looked up and saw a city bus, and on the side of this bus, he saw a silk screened image of an Indo-Pacific Sailfish, probably advertising a new action film. Something about the savage grace of the creature awakened within him a desire to transcend the bonds of his dull, colorless life, to seek out adventure and discovery, to meet that noble beast on its own terms, reach out and grasp the source of its power. So he rolled down his window, thrust out his head, and cried to his chauffeur. “I say, James—to the airport—immediately!”

Meanwhile, in Madison, Wisconsin, a young student named Jeanne is playing another round of quarters at the local pub. It’s 1:30 AM and she’s losing—her quarters, her judgement, the buffalo wings she consumed for dinner. Her bleary eyes settle on the t-shirt her opponent is wearing—a clown wrasse that appears to be shouting, “I CLOWNED AROUND IN CANCUN! PIKES SPRING BREAK 2009”. It’s so damn funny she’s got to leave the table right away. In a moment of clarity as she’s hovering over the toilet, she thinks, “I gotta get out of this place…need to see something else in this world…get back to nature…”

And so they both arrived at Nineball Island today. I took Ebiike out first, returning to the North Canyon area after my fruitless quest for the mysterious sea shadow. I like this place—it’s teaming with large fish and tall basaltic columns that are fun to climb down and swim between. The only sharks onhand are the relatively placid pelagic threshers, which eat right out of my hand. The sailfish are a little more problematic—they’re fast and greedy and take they food away from deserving mackerals and sardines. We swim west to the wreck of the Pride of Athens. I’m trying something new tonight, diving in the first person view rather than the third. At first I thought this would be disorienting, but it’s not, it’s liberating. I’m not in my own way anymore, my motions seem more natural—it’s a more immersive experience. Funny how, even 84 hours into this game, I’m still discovering new things. It makes me realize, caught up in these searches, how little real exploring I’ve done. I’m so grooved-out on swimming (or maybe it’s nitrous oxide in my air tank) that I spend over an hour feeding fish, taking pictures, petting octopi. Then the cloud evaporates and I gotta wrap this up to usher in the next client.

Ebiike, Ciceros Strait

I take Jeanne to Valka Castle, first ascending the Spiral Tower all the way to the surface and look down on the bonnethead sharks circling below us. Then, after a detour into the Collapsed Gallery (always a waste of time), we enter the castle proper, with stops in the Armory and Treasure Vault, where a curious longtooth grouper inspects us.  I discover a coin and a new species—the sunset anthias, another of the many female-to-male transgender fish found here (Ciceros Strait is where nature gets her freak on). I’m in such a benevolent mood that I even feed the lionfish—I’ve always avoided their spines before. We find the clown wrasses she’s here to see in the Underwater Gallery, and before we leave, visit the Mermaid’s Ballroom.

Clown wrasse, Valka Castle

Ebiike was reservedly impressed by the tour (3,622 P), while Jeanne is gushing about how great everything was (3,924 P). They could’ve paid me in shin-kicks and I still would’ve been smiling.

And so, as the sun sets on Nineball Island, we leave our two tourists to return to their daily lives: Ebiike, newly refreshed to pursue that leveraged buyout; Jeanne, inspired to once again switch her major, this time to Marine Biology.

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.

Angelshark

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.

3/28

Ciceros Strait, daybreak—Following a tip from Finley, I headed for the East Undines to look for the white dolphin. Somewhere in the Cross Rift, I found a pod bottlenosed dolphins, one of which was trapped below by a tiger shark. I dove down and drove away the bully, earning the undying gratitude of the dolphin, a rare albino. I decided to call her Lilly, after Dr. John C. Lilly, the visionary scientist/crackpot who began his strange career trying (unsuccessfully) to teach dolphins to speak English. And because she’s white. And because it’s almost Easter. And because Lilly Munster was my surrogate mother.

Lilly

Right away I decide to put Lilly to work as my chauffeur to the Wreck of the Flamingo to find that bottle of vinegar Jean Eric wants. It was really unfair to bring an untried (not to mention shark-traumatized) dolphin into this, as the wreck is swarming with great whites. It’s agonizing, because I can see the sparkle of something alluring far down below, but the sharks are in our way, and Jean Eric advises us to return at another time of day. When would that be? I thought sharks got even rowdier at night.

Just for kicks, I watch the sun set in Ciceros Strait.

Nevertheless, I return at sunset, this time with Pha. The great whites have cleared out, and in their place are the not-so-handsome but relatively harmless sandbar sharks. I easily retrieve the bottle (you can always tell a salvage item is part of your quest because it has a red gleam), then return to Nineball. Jean Eric is ecstatic that I found the bottle—he’d been asked for it by a friend who’s in a cooking competition, and this here bottle of vinegar that’ s been lying at the bottom of the sea for who knows how long is the ultimate vinegar that’s going to be his top secret cooking ingredient! I don’t make this stuff up, folks.

Anyway, for finding this condiment I get a sweet 5,000 P and a pair of sparkly swimtrunks. I also salvaged a flamethrower, but unfortunely I can’t use it—I’m told it’s an antique Chinese flamethrower from the Song Dynasty (ca. 10th-13th c.). Together, that brings my tally up to 263,822 P.

At the end of the day, the Fabulous Finley shows up to snark about my finding the albino dolphin, then challenges us to put on 3 more dolphin shows. “You must put on shows and keep people of my choosing entertained,” he says. Can you believe that guy?

3/20

Back to Valka Castle again to fulfill a treasure request from a bizarrely-coifed fella named Franklin Fischer (Gaston Gray, Franklin Fischer—apparently Stan Lee gets to name all the treasure seekers). This time I’ve got my real-life 6-year-old son along to prod me if I fall asleep again. Finding it, we receive payment and an item called the “monster.” Think how cool I’ll look strutting around Nineball Island with pet monster on a leash!

Afterwards we return with Matilde to see how the sea turtle eggs are coming along. But there’s a snag: the last time we were in the turtle spawning grounds, Matlide put her photo equipment on the sea bed without telling us. When we ask her why, she gives a lame excuse about wanting to have it where she needed it. This is like throwing your wallet into the Humboldt Current because you don’t trust the banks, but whatever it takes, lady. We search around for Matilde’s camera, and of course the sharks turn up to help—and I promised my son there would be no sharks! As if that wasn’t enough, Matilde next confesses that she kept her batteries and lenses in another bag, and there’re sharks sitting on these too. I almost call off the mission, but my son finds the equipment easily enough and we go ashore to watch a cutscene about turtles running the gauntlet to the sea. I helpfully point out to my son that when he was born, the maternity ward was full of hungry tigers and he had to crawl past them on his hands and knees to the elevator before we took him home. He doesn’t buy it, nor is he amused.

Back at Nineball, this time it’s we who get to dole out the lectures: we scold a thoroughly humiliated Matilde about leaving plastic bags on the ocean floor where nearsighted turtles could mistake them for delicious jellyfish. She gives us 13,000 P in hush-money and  something called a “flat tank” before jet-skiing off with her tail between her legs.

The “flat tank” turns out to be a turtle-shell-shaped tank, and as for the ‘monster’, it’s a ridiculous-looking scaly green wetsuit complete with horns! My son makes me put on the costume and swim around the private reef, much to his amusement.

We round out the day running Pha through his training paces.

3/19

Ciceros Strait–found the Explorer’s Treasure for a lady named Kiyoko.  Since my people at the aquarium want to see Valka Castle creatures, I swam down into the well near Triton Ruins and returned to Valka for a looksee. While I was down there I found the treasure room in the northwest corner of the castle and tried to fill my salvage bag. Something about the “pong-pong” of the sensor tool lulls me, and before I know it I wake up upside down with half my air missing. Taking a nap underwater probably isn’t the best idea, so I got up from the couch and stuck my head in the fridge to freshen up a bit.

Mermaid's Ballroom, Valka Castle

Next I went to the Aquarium to Give the People What They Want, and so stock the main tank with false killer whales, mahi-mahi and sea robins. The People, never satisfied, demand a seabird exhibit in the topside room. I go upstairs to oblige them once again, then get the heck out before they ask me to clean the lavatories.

All this work has made me blue, so before returning home I make a detour to Gatama Atoll and swim to the Blue Cliffs, there to dangle my fins over the abyss and brood. Later I discover a cave in the cliffs about 30 feet down. There are some rocks blocking the entrance, so I call in Pha and together we clear an opening. The so-called Silent Cavern is short and yeilds a mysterious treasure box. It makes a really cozy place to peer out over the open sea and I want to return there someday, perhaps with a cushy chair and a reading lamp.

The view from Silent Cavern

Back at Nineball I appraise the loot. 10,000 each for the Valka Castle treasure and the Silent Cavern mysterious box (which goes by the Moon Treasure in treasure-naming circles).

3/16

Ciceros Strait. Must be the new Elvis haircut—I found and cured the 3rd sick monk seal on the S.S. (Sunken Ship) Emerald Lady, with minimal shark bites taken out of me. The first two times I tried this the monk seal was a no-show and once, by the time I saw him I’d blown all my oxygen fighting Jaws and his gang and got dragged back to the boat. I finally did it this time by following the exact order of seal locations—Western Shallows, then Emerald Lady, then Blue Dome—it pays to follow orders! For my pains I got a lecture on pollution from Capt. Generic. Next mission is a sick penguin in Antarctica. Since I had plenty of air left, I filled my salvage bag on the way back to the boat. Nothing too valuable (how well can a closetful of clothes hold up after centuries underwater?), but it all adds up.