Tag Archive: Gatama Atoll


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!

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.

4/22

Gatama Atoll—In honor or Earth Day, I’ve been concentrating on healing the most critical (purple and red) fish as I go about my business. Frankly, I’m exhausted. I haven’t used the pulsar as anything but a defensive weapon since the “Help Me” quest ended abruptly, and even then I used it mainly on large fish and mammals. It’s quite a different thing when you swim up to a coral head to pulse a cloud of tangs. The screen turns into a kaleidoscope of ill fish with targets around their necks, clamoring to be healed. Remember that scene in Jesus Christ Superstar where Ted Neeley is healing lepers and they start to surround him and he like, totally freaks? It’s like that. Not that I’m comparing myself to the Man from Galilee—I’m just sayin’, it’s hard to be a miracle worker. And what makes it tougher is that, as the fish you’re pulsing get better, they also get friskier and try to dart away from you. Sometimes you have to chase them around the reef, like a mom with a spoonful of cough medicine after her suddenly “all better” children.  

Anyway, I pulsed about 150 fish today and received a 3,300-Pelago bonus from the Conservation Society. I also managed to get in a little treasure hunting. FF came in with his unidentified map scrap. Once again, my technique of redrawing the map on a piece of paper paid off, and I located the Golden Shield Treasure almost immediately. FF handed us 12,500 P at the dock,  then just left—no name-calling, no snarks, nothing.  GG’s heartbroken.

Next I took a  guy named Gabriel on a quick guided tour to Twilight Temple. Disappointingly, the giant catfish has shed her golden scales and King Gigide was nowhere to be seen. While we were there, I pulsed some more fish, then whipped out the multisensor for a little last-minute treasuring. Lucky I did, as I turned up the Incan Treasure, worth 12,000 P.

All told, I made off with a cool 30,000 P tonight. Not bad considering I wasn’t even trying.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, Disney’s Oceans opens in theatres today. I’m working on convincing my son to get over his nature-documentary fears to join me this weekend. Here’s a link: http://disney.go.com/disneynature/oceans/

4/6

Gatama Atoll, sunrise—Today I’ve decided to spend the day shuttling tourists from Nineball Island to the Deep Hole in Gatama Atoll. This is what I imagine giving real dive tours is like—repetitive. There are four trips lined up today, so let’s get started.

First up is Lisa, who wants to see Japanese Eagle Rays. She’s only mildly impressed with them, as all they do is swim around and look pretty. But she really goes wild for the pinecone fish, who have bioluminescent organisms living on their chins. These little beards light up in the dark recesses of Deep Dome. You can tell when a client is happy, because a little jingle goes off as you feed the fish. Lisa was jingling off the hook, and I collected 3,612 for our little trip.

Next, I’m off to find the Ruby Telescope for some guy. I’ve learned from past mistakes that you can’t squeeze a treasure hunt in on a guided tour, so this is strictly sensor work. For the Ruby Telescope I get 1,200 P. No tip, but hey—it only took five minutes.

Third up is Dirk, who I think is the guy who’s never impressed with my dolphin shows. He wants to see Goldeye Rockfish, and I’m determined not to disappoint him. We dive at sunset.

By now the community around the Deep Hole are so familiar that I’ve given most of them names. There’s Sol, the sunfish who hangs over the Mouth of Truth; Sluggo, the tiger shark who harrasses us in the Coliseum; Big Gus, the giant grouper; Cecil, the ribbon moray eel; and Pee Wee, the pygmy sperm whale, who at sunset likes to shyly crawl out of the hole for a little exploring.

Sol

Sluggo

Big Gus

Pee Wee

 We feed them all and I even get in a little scavanging, filling my bag with loot.  This time, Dirk is impressed—he hands me 3,000 P for the tour, which is fortunate, because the salvage bag was full of relatively worthless junk.

Last up is Gabriel, who wants to see Big Gus. While I’m taking him around, I discover that there’s second giant grouper in the Deep Dome. I always assumed that was just Big Gus  following me around, but now I guess we’ve got Little Gus. Gabby also goes gaga over the pinecone fish, and hands me 3,656 P at the dock.

Little Gus

All tallied up, that brings my day’s wage to roughly 13,000 P. 

By now it’s dark, and I go over to the Hayako to ask her about something, but I’m not listening because there’s a sparkle on the shore behind her. Following it, I find it’s a carving of something called the Ancient Mother. Suddenly, Jean-Eric is at my side (I hate when he does that!) to explain cryptically that it’s some kind of whale that he doubts even exists, but allegedly lives at the North Pole, or is it the South? So great, another legendary creature quest.

Well, it’s been a long day, so I settle down in the beach chair and watch the fireworks display, then to bed.

Valka Castle

3/24

Nineball Island, Sunrise–Started the day with a couple of dolphin shows, first Jeanne, who came all this way to see a tail walk, then Dirk who wanted singing. Dirk wasn’t impressed, but paid his money anyway and left.

Next GG and I went off to Ciceros Strait to once again seek the Spartan Treasure. Diving at night, this time we hit paydirt–11,000 smackers. We stick around to raid the Blood Lotus, then drop down the well to Valka Castle. I’m hoping I see the ghost this time, but no luck. I do get to test out a tip from one of the Gamespot forum posters and poke an octopus to make him ink himself. He-he! I fill out my salvage bag and camera in the castle, then head for the boat.

It turned out to be an enormous haul—11,000 P for the Spartan Treasure, 13,000 for a book called the 7th Tome, and 9,000 for a canopic jar. That brings my total P count up to 216,477—nearly a quarter of the way there!

FF turned up to claim his treasure, and there was some awkwardness as usual, with him going, “You should keep the treasure, you earned it,” and GG’s like “No way, it’s yours”, and FF’s like, you’re a softy and GG’s like, “That’s MISTER GG to you!” and on and on. Get a room already!

The sun sets on the third dolphin show of the day, this time for Yannick. He too wants Pha to sing (what is this, American Idol?), and goes away happy.

Then just as I’m about to turn in, I check in on Snorkle, who’s lying by the firepit staring out at a sparkle on the shore. The sparkle turns out to be a new item, “mirage” (maybe that’s the thanks I get from Mr. Tiki for bringing his tusks?) As I pet Snorkle for a being a good boy, he jumps up and starts barking at something out to sea. Jean Eric says it’s an island that wasn’t on the charts before, just west of Cake Rock. I go out to investigate, and surfacing outside Cake Rock, see something weird on the sea near Gatama’s Navel. Pha and I head out there and discover that the “island” is a huge leatherback sea turtle named Cocoa Maharaja. So another legendary creature is found. The big fella’s supposed to be good luck for treasure seekers. We’ll see.

Strong in the ways of the Force, you are...

3/18

Taking a request from Oceana, we and a marine biologist named Matilde head out to the Zahhab  beaches to watch sea turtles lay their eggs. This has to be done at night, when the sh-sh-sharks are out. If you keep moving they don’t bother you much, but they can still take bite out of you from time to time. I fumbled with the pulsar gun as usual and lost a lot of air before I found some blue starfish, the clue to where you’re supposed to land. Watched a short cutscene of turtles dropping their little pingpong balls in the sand, then it’s back to Nineball for payday. It’s a good one this time: 2,000 P, plus a 10,000 P bonus! We’ll meet Matilde again when the turtle  eggs hatch.  After another quick trip to the private reef, I go back home and sleep until the next day, then run right out and check the telescope. Score! It’s a full moon day and I see something really weird off to horizon. It’s fuzzy, but it’s big and has four limbs, so it can’t be a whale. With Pha I head out to what I call Corner Pocket Island, and there…find… a very large, very cranky croc named “gatama gatawa.” A little disappointing, frankly—I was expecting a mososaur or something.  Click-click.

"You kids get off my yard!!"

Next I jet off to Tokyo to visit the aquarium, where I change the main tank around to a polar theme (Belugas—I love those guys!). I add a few new things to the small tanks and kick out the sea lions to put in emperor penguins in the land exhibit.  There ought to be lines around the block now, but no, Hayako tells me they want to see creatures from Valka Castle. What-ever! Then back to Nineball again to develop pictures and go to bed. Overall I spent more time on dry land today than I did in the water.