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...