Monday, July 07, 2008

UST Beach Cleanup

After the bad weather last weekend, today was the official beach cleanup at HKUST. Unfortunately, the weather was just as bad, and it did not stop raining all day. Mark, Martin and I planned two dives: (i) as a dry run for next weekend’s sea-bed mapping, and (ii) to recover a fish trap.

On the first, we were to dive a 0-degree course, starting from the BBQ pits. Underwater, we were to unroll a 200m reel, and take depth-readings and pictures, whenever we encounter a marker on the line, spaced 10 meters apart. The limits of this approach soon became obvious.
First: I the soft PVC-markers quickly got entangled in the line, and made it impossible to simply un-wind it.
Second: the “reel”, consisting of a used water bottle, did not provide side-ways support. Large parts of the line quickly slipped off, and formed a giant knot.
Third: Untangling the line underwater is impossible. Hence, we had to swim it out.
Fourth: You should NEVER handle more than one line at the same time.

On a positive note, recording the depth, substrate, flora and fauna, and taking photographs went really well. We managed to cover 180m in only 20 minutes.

We still had 120 bars left, and subsequently swam out to retrieve a large net.
Meanwhile, Mark came across a good sized stingray.

On the second dive, we swam out to the sea-water intake, and dove for the fish trap. Yet, the fishermen who had dumped the trap seemed to have retrieved it themselves, as we could not find it. We then went southwards; on the same ridge the water intake is located. Surprisingly, we found some bizarre reef-building coral, and a long through, where the ocean floor suddenly dropped from 5 to 12 meters. Finally, I found a small sized anchor, and decided to swim it home. Unfortunately, visibility on this second dive was particularly poor, around 1.5 meters.

As bad as the weather and the visibility was, the day was very important for planning next weekend. Thanks to Mark and Martin.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Two Dives in Lung Ha Wan

Raymond called and asked if I could help him with two students and a visiting “fun-diver”. When we met at 8:30 a.m., the students had opted-out. So it was Raymond, and a young Frenchman from Shanghai, who had just completed 17 dives, and promised himself that he would go diving wherever and whenever he gets the chance. Excellent.

First dive, the three of us went to the right side of the beach. Visibility was particularly bad, around 1.5m. We found the underwater-tree, covered with two large heaps of octopus eggs. Raymond was looking for something particular, but did not let me in on what it was. We raced along the coast, and after 20 minutes were out of air. Still, I managed to get a glimpse of a couple of things, including the larges puffer-fish I have ever seen in HK’s waters.

On the second dive, Raymond left us to our own. This time we went to the left side of the shore, where we found a much better visibility. Nice fish, sunny, we stretched the dive to a full hour. The highlight was a couple (groom and bride) of crabs. At first, I thought: “Oh my god, the big crab caught the small one, and is going to eat it.” But then, it looked like they were not eating after all; at least not in the conventional sense of the word.

Excellent diving, nice people, good day.