20 April 2010

First Day of the Course

It looks like most of my blog posts here in Santo Domingo are going to lag behind by a day because of an unreliable internet connection in my hotel. Today (Monday) I had my first tech diving lesson. It was a small first step, but an important one. All I did was use a technical gear configuration (twin tanks on a trans-pac) and an EAN30 breathing gas. After a few hours in the classroom and a tasty lunch at an Arabian place, we went for two dives.

I was early.

I have a lot of reading to do.

I was delighted to find that the diving here was much nicer than on the North Coast! Visibility was still a little poor (to be expected at sites so close to a large city), but the reef looked much healthier. Many of the larger, commercially valuable fish were still missing, but the coral looked good and there was a greater diversity of fish species. There were loads of Jessee's favorite Sharpnose Puffers (more than I could count!), including one so tiny that it was no bigger than the tip of my little finger! And (she's going to be so jealous) TWO juvenile Smooth Trunkfish - the little black and yellow spotted fish that is shaped and looks very much like a jelly bean! One was a true juvenile, pea-sized, and the other was a bit smaller than a golf ball but still in the spotted juvenile phase.

This is an old photo I took on South Caicos.

We dove at La Caleta Underwater National Park. Notice how fat my knuckle is from my turtle-catching injury a month ago.

I also saw a small octopus (quite unusual during the day). And I watched a Mantis Shrimp lunge out from its hole and snap at a passing fish. I don't know why it did that because the fish was much larger, but there was half of a clam shell involved, so maybe one was trying to steal it from the other. And I only saw two Lionfish - not bad! I didn't bring my camera, which is unfortunate because there was lots to take pictures of, but I thought I should focus on the new setup rather than be distracted with something else.

I was so hungry at the end of the day! Chow Mein. This whole thing plus a bottle of water cost about $4.25

The room at this hotel is nicer. But their network connection is crappy.

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