Monday, June 09, 2008

Red-necked Keelback

Returning from a quick shopping, we found a little visitor outside the rear entry: a Red-necked Keelback, or Rhabdophis subminiatus, of the race 'helleri'. This mildly venomous snake mainly feeds on toads and frogs. Our little friend was clearly juvenile and very cute. We will have to keep an eye open, to see if it permanently moves in.

We first saw it in front of the rear entry.

It decided to hide under the Yucca tree.

And stick out its head once in a while.

Later it went exploring again.

Afternoon dive with Mark

Due to low visibility, we moved the afternoon dive to a small rock called Song Gung, which I probably misspelled. The current was scary. Having stopped the boat, the tender left a significant wake, just from passing water. We had anchored up-stream from the small island, and Mark and I were determined to stay in this relatively calm water, and not get pulled away by the current. We took bearings, headed to the rock, at around 5 meters and zig-zagged on its flank. Visibility was still low, but there was significantly more to see than at the previous site. In particular, there were even more soft-corals, huge barnacles, anemone, and several oak planks from an old wreck. Mark and I also took care not to loose each other. At the end of the dive, we headed to where we thought the boat was anchored, and swam out in the open water. During the three minute safety stop however, the current dragged us a good way. Somehow, in this last moment, Mark and I got separated. I found a large rock at 5m, to which I could hang onto, and withstand the current. When I finally surfaced, I found myself only 20 meters to the side of the boat. Unfortunately, I forgot about the current, and while looking out for Mark got dragged away. When I finally saw him surface safe and sound 100 meters down-current, the water had pulled me 40 meters down from the boat. While Mark decided to wait for the tender, I struggled up-current, and finally was the only diver to independently return to the boat. Due to the constant current, the dive was tons of work, but great fun. We returned home totally beat, but super happy.

A barnacle, the size of a goose egg

Some bizarre slug

Mark holding a plank of some wreck

Sea Anemone

Scuba with Mark and Christine

For my birthday, Mark and Christine had invited Christel and me for a day out on a divingexpress boat. Here, I was to meet Ken Chan, scuba-father to the sandy-bottom divers. Unfortunately, Ken had three students with him, so we were going to be entertained by him only on board, but not underwater. The boat left 9:00 from the Kwun Tong public pier, and our first dive was at Po Toi island. The previous day, Hong Kong had seen a black rainstorm, but the sea was surprisingly calm. Visibility however was a different thing altogether. Mark, Christel and I formed a team of three, and from the boat swam towards the island at about 8 meters depth. First thing we encountered was a relatively young ghost net that fortunately had not trapped fish yet, so we decided to worry about it later. From here on, we followed the shore to the left, in thick heavy soup, lost and found ourselves several times. Still, the dive was worthwhile, in particular one wall was covered with very pretty small anemones. Also, there were surprisingly large patches of coral. Christel was not too happy about the visibility (2m) and eventually left. Mark and I decided to take out the net, but immediately lost each other again. In the end, I took out half the net, and had the deckhand on the tender pull it up. As much of a help as the guy was, I had hoped he would dispose of the net properly, and not roll it up and toss it overboard, as soon as I was off. Like pizza, even a miserable dive is still great fun, and I left the water looking forward for the afternoon dive.
Here are some photo from the fist dive:

Some small sea anemone

Mark, at his best

Some friendly crab

Tons of white and purple soft-coral, cauliflower shaped