Category: Photos


3/30/11

…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?

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7/13

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!

It’s been a slow couple of weeks on Nineball Island. Between work, holidays and the end of the school year, there hasn’t been much time to devote to diving, let alone blogging about it. A tour here and a salvage there, salting the money away as it comes.  I’ve been back to Zahhab a few times, one of my favorite places. For color, variety and sheer numbers of fish, nowhere in EO can match it.

Coral Valley

Blackfin barracuda swarm near the Super Dropoff

Yellow longnose butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus)

Big Boeing over Mushroom Rock.

I discovered this Crown of Thorns starfish almost by accident.

Stone Castle

 

I swear that thing was THIS BIG!

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?

Cliff Notes

5/3

Gatama Atoll—After a brief visit to Deep Hole to pick up a salvage request, I headed over to Blue Cliff to swim around and do some photography for its own sake. This is one of my favorite spots in the Blue World.

Worth more than a dangol' "C" I tell you what.

5/2

Not much excitement to report except a couple of boneheaded mistakes: In the real world, I’d had a busy weekend, so on Sunday night I was rushing around getting everything done for Monday so I could settle down to a nice, calming EO session before bed. Imagine my shock and dismay when I found that my disc wouldn’t play. Even more ominously, the disc would not eject. I got online to seek advice. Resetting, turning it off, unpluggining it, turning it upside down, nothing worked. It was like the disc had disappeared into the console forever; now I would have to mail it back to Nintendo and no more games for 6-8 weeks, and then all the data would be erased and I’d have to start all over again. Unflappably, my wife asked if the disc was even in there. “Of COURSE it’s in there!” I said in my most reasonable shout.  “I just put it in myself, didn’t I?!”  Didn’t I? Well, no I didn’t—it was sitting there innocently in its case, waiting to be inserted. Heh. Never mind.

My second mistake was within the game world, but no less stupid. I was on a lucrative treasure quest for the Baron’s Book among the icebergs of the Weddell Sea. Since I’d found it so easily—and 2 days before the deadline, too—I decided to play, entering the Hall of Radiance to fulfill a photo request and just basically hang out, finding two new coins (Cancer, Uranus) and a new species (the tiny bald notothen) in the little niches that dimple the hall. 

Then I was back in the boat and ready to go home, when I decided to take another look for that elusive Blue Bird. I’ve got it in my head that the appearance of said bird coincides with the aurora borealis, so I went in the cabin and napped until midnight. No aurora tonight, so I went home. Interesting science fact: Midnight is the start of a new day (even though it’s, like, dark outside—isn’t that weird?). So our 2 -day cushion was reduced to 1 day, which was eaten up in travel. When I got to the docks on Nineball, GG was lamenting the fact that I’d slept through the deadline on that 2900-P book.

The news depressed me, so I took another nap. When I awoke the next morning, I found my Hall of Radiance photo buried on page 7 with a “C” grade. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

4/27

Nineball Island—The morning begins with dolphin shows. Did I tell you? After we found Pinky at the North Pole, Finley dropped by and challenged us to put on 20 “excellent” dolphin shows for “people of his choosing,” or train dolphins 100 times. If we do, he’ll tell me a secret. Though the prospect of Finley putting his greasy lips to my ear is not much of an inducement, I think this has something to do with getting a freshwater dolphin to open up that hidden part of the Cortica River, so I better go along with it.

There are probably more discussions on the GameFAQs message boards about dolphin shows and training than any other topic. Lots of good advice about levelling up and special tricks and Wii remote wrist techniques, and I’d be wise to pay attention. But it’s all occult science to me—I try to care, but I can’t. What I do: I feed them a couple of fish, set it on free training and go off to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race or something, and pat their heads when it’s over. When it’s showtime, I just tell my girls to do their best and hope people like the show. I’m probably the worst stage mom in show business.

Anyway, I’ve done about 5 shows already, and it’s really hard to tell how they’re going to be received. Sometimes the dolphins really pour their heart into a performance, but the audience comes away unimpressed; sometimes they put on a mediocre show, but get rave reviews. I don’t know whether any of these shows are going to count toward the 20 I need or not—all I know is they pay, and that’s good enough for me.

After 2 dolphin shows, it’s time to go diving. I’ve got a request to find the Pirate Pottery in the Zahhab Region Depths, which coincides nicely with a photo request for an oarfish. I’ve finally learned to tell the difference between the north and south crevasses, so I can dive directly down there without having to wander through caves and cul-de-sacs. After I find the treasure, I leave the multisensor on and find a lot of stuff somebody’s missing.

Now for the oarfish—I wanted to shoot one on my last trip to the abyss, but even with Hayako’s help, I couldn’t find it. Trouble is, there’s a lot of vertical space up and down here, and it’s all a matter of finding the right depth. I finally spotted the oarfish writhing through the gloom at around 400 feet. My heart beating faster, I swam up beside it, turned and started shooting. Afterwards I goofed around with the Risso’s dolphin and provoked an encounter with a sixgill shark.  When my “out-of-air” warning alarm went off—first time that’s happened in a long while—I swam all the way to the surface. (Decompression is for wimps.)

Bluntnose sixgill

Risso's dolphin

When I returned to Nineball, I gave Jean-Eric my best shot of the oarfish, then went to bed and awaited the results. The editors at Maritime Weekly were very impressed, gave me an “A” and a cover! Now my work will be seen in harbormasters’ offices and marina waiting rooms the world over!

 Today was successful monetarily for me as well:

  • Dolphin shows: 5016 P
  • Fresh fish: 3000 P
  • Pirate Pottery: 1700 P
  • Misc. salvage: 25770 P
  • Photo: 3500 P
  • Day’s total: 38,986 P

My game total is now 669,779 P. I’m inching closer to the Chamber of the Gods.

4/24

Zahhab Region—I’ve decided to take seriously Jean-Eric’s requests for magazine photos. I’d been avoiding them after my “E” grade, but once I saw Waltmck’s YouTube video of  A&B winning shots (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf8RPtXoeu8), I was emboldened to give it another try. The request with the most pressing deadline is for a barreleye, which, my marine encyclopedia shows, can be found in the depths of the Zahhab Region. I take Hayako with me, but despite her useful fish maps, I can’t find a single one.

Next I took Kaneko, who came to Nineball Island in open defiance of her overbearing architect father, to Zahhab to see some green sea turtles. It was almost too easy, so while we’re near the Twin Crevasses, I persuade her to follow me down to the depths. Of course, it’s highly irresponsible to take an inexperienced diver below 50 fathoms; I should have my PADI license revoked, but I gotta find that barreleye. Again I didn’t find one, but down in the narrow canyons I saw something emerging out of the gloom. Large but too misshapen to be a shark, it turned out to be a Risso’s dolphin. It was a welcome sight to find a fellow mammal down this deep. On our way back to the surface we found a few more new things: a common fangtooth, one of those all-mouth deepsea monsters that would be horrifying if it weren’t a little pipsqueak; and an oarfish—decidedly not a pipsqueak, but a long silver ribbonlike thing with a rooster’s comb that trails behind it for what seems like fifty feet.  We also met the giant squid rising vertically up the canyon wall, so we followed it up to 270 feet, where it turned around and returned to the depths. Emerging from the crevasse, we took the requisite gray whale ride, then headed west to the Coral Garden, where another new creature turned up at a fish feeding—the blue and yellow banded butterflyfish. Back at Nineball, Kaneko paid me 3610 P for the trip.

Hey you! I'm talkin' to you!

Next I went to northern Canada to photograph a harp seal. I threw out my worries and simply tried to fill the viewfinder with the animal and made sure it smiled pretty for the camera. The photo earned me a “C” and the magazine paid out 2000 P, twice their initial price. I’ll take that.

My first passing grade

Finally, I couldn’t resist taking one more trip to the Zahhab depths, this time with Bob, an olympic medalist using thrill therapy to deal with the aftermath of a terrifying ski jump accident. He wants to see a sea pig. These little Pokemon nightmares litter the sea floor around the Chimney Forest. We also take in the vampire squids, the popeye grenadiers, the splendid alphonsos. Bob was cured of his PTSD and paid me 3610 on the docks. And hey, I finally found my barreleyes—they were hiding in a closeup zone because they’re so small. I got as close as I could and took many pictures—all prizewinners.

Sea pig (file photo)

The only problem is that once I got home, I exited the game without developing the pictures and lost everything!

Blame it on rapture of the deep.

Special Thanks to Waltmck!

 4/10

Cortica River, noon—This weekend my family and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo, which has a pretty nice exhibit of South American fauna, including giant otters and arapaima, so for once I was in the mood for exploring the Amazon. Fortunate timing, as I once again have a backlog of tasks awaiting me. Nineball Larry, Jr. is along with me, so I put him in the “diver’s seat” (a bad joke I’ll bet you don’t get to use every day). We started upstream to avoid the piranhas and right away, under Spirit Falls, the giant piraiba catfish at the mouth of the temple swims right up to us and takes the “servant’s ring,” which I wasn’t even aware I had. It then proceeds to turn into gold and becomes a legendary, the Gold Eater. He’s eaten so much gold on the river bottom, see, that he turns gold—he just needed that one ring to put him over the edge.

Gold Eater

We move forward, exploring the temple and taking many pictures (my son’s a perfectionist when it comes to the camera), when we see, emerging from the temple, a gleaming white caiman. It’s another legendary—King Gigide, who was first mentioned in that Zahhab Region find a while back. Apparently encountering the Gold Eater unlocked the cabinet that imprisoned the King. The multisensor yields a bagload of loot, and we return to the boat.

King Gigide

It’s raining torrents, and I remember that there’s something we’d find in the mangrove beds if we searched in the rain. Sure enough, we pull up the Dark Statue. While we’re in the area, we stop to watch the giant otters, which are not as cute or animated as their real-life counterparts. I ask Jr. to take a photo of the western sandbank, one of Jean-Eric’s requests. We head back for Nineball Island after a momentous visit.

The Dark Statue is worth 12,000 P, but the big find is a stone statue of a golem worth 13,000 P. How did the Golem of Prague wind up in an Amazonian River tributary? Must have something to do with Nazi fugitives smuggling and perverting Rabbi Loew’s clay factotum to build an army of sedimentary super-men and reclaim the lost glory of the Reich in the jungles of South America. The game literature isn’t clear on this, but I’ve got new material for some awesome Indiana Jones fan fiction.