Divers in romance (part I) we met in a class 潛水員的浪漫(一)相遇

This is the story about my history around diving activities.

I have been a scuba diving instructor for twenty years. Why have I become an instructor? I had not desired as an instructor before, but it has brought me a lot of memory. It was all about a trip to a paradise island, to where I was given a free ticket. On a local trip, the guide made me to share a boat with a couple of divers who dove at the middle of the boat trip, then I was waiting on the boat for an hour. I thought diving is quite cool.

After I have returned to home, I enrolled in a beginner diving course, which is the most basic course for learning scuba diving.
HKIST diving course schedule
In this class, it had 4 students who were a couple, a single girl and me. As I am good in swimming, I did very well to pickup all techniques. During the course, we had many things to learn. We had eight hours lecture about diving theory, two sections pool training for six hours and two and half days boat dive in open water for practice

After each day's training, the instructor and us had a tea to review our training and shared something of ourselves as well.  

The couple were civil servants so they had too many holidays, which they spent. This was the reason why they learnt scuba diving. The girl was only 24 years old and she has been a freelance private English tutor since she graduated. Her name is Camilla and she studied linguistics in USA so that she can speak English and several European's languages very well.  When any natives speak with her on phone, no one may realize that they are talking with an Asian. She may speak in both common accents, which are received and general American pronunciation. Although they have only slightly differences in some vowel and consonant pronunciations, she speaks both perfectly. She raised some differences such as the letter 'O' pronounces /ɒ/ for British and /aː/ for American.
Therefor, she may mock an American or a British. When we have become a friend later, she taught me from the basic, core concept of English, then I found that my previous English classes were useless and waste of time. Had I had an English teacher who has just half of her techniques, I would not have failed in English paper in Advanced level Examination.

She told us why she has learnt scuba diving. She just broke up from a six year relationship which was her first dating. Her ex-boy friend was a sporty guy and they had been dating since she studied in high school.  She wanted to try something that she had never done before. I guessed her ex-boy friend was a diver. Although she was enjoying scuba diving, she has still been caring her beauty. She always covers all her skin, when she is on surface and keeps away from sun light.

I didn't know as a freelance English teacher can have such high income.
She drove Maserati and bought full set of diving gears that were the most advanced models while we were using rental gears. I known later that she is the daughter of the chairman of  a Hong Kong listing company, but she has never disclosed to acquaintances.


How do fish fall in love? 魚如何表達愛意?

As humans, we may hold her hands, hug, kiss
or make love. In common, they are physical intimacy gestures. Fish, they can only use their gill to touch each other.


Dream place of diving - Cocos Island and travelling by submarine in 2018

對於哥斯達黎加(Costa Rica)這中美洲國家,可能香港多數人認識她是由世界杯開始,而我是由她一個遙遠小島Isla del Coco (Cocos Island),
Costa Rica
一套在香港太空館天象廳的紀錄片認識。片中介紹Cocos Island的海底世界,她以有大群游得較淺水的錘頭鯊(Scalloped Hammerhead Shark)而聞名。

Most of the Hong Kong people might have heard a country, Costa Rica, by watching the World cup, but I knew it from seeing a documentary that shown on Hong Kong Space Museum. It says that there is a large group of scalloped hammerhead sharks that swim shallowly around a remote island, Isla del Coco (Cocos Island).

Cocos Island 位於哥斯達黎加西岸,即位處中太平洋,距離哥斯達黎加海岸550公里(km),一般船程要32至36小時。島上絕大部分地方由熱帶雨林覆蓋,而此島及其週邊海域自從1978年已成立為國家公園,島上現在只有少數林護員(park rangers)駐守,島上不設酒店,所以訪客都只可住在船上。島上最高的山峰有575米(M)。除了不准捕魚,還嚴格限制訪客數量,如現在只許2間公司經營4艘宿船到此島潛水旅遊,而且限制同一時間最多只有3艘宿船在此島範圍潛水及活動。而私人遊艇經事前申請也是可以到此停留。

Cocos Island aerial view

Cocos Island is at the western side of Costa Rica, where is near the equator of the Pacific Ocean. The distance of this island from the coast of Costa Rica is 550km. Visitors usually take about 32 to 36 hours travelling time by common vessels. It is covering by tropical rainforest mostly. As this island and its surrounding ocean have been declared as a national park since 1978, it only has park rangers on duty. There has no hotel, such that all visitors can only live on board. The government also implements a lot of regulations to protect this area, such as fishing is prohibited and she only licenses two companies with 4 commercial vessels that can operate tourist visiting regularly. The regulations also limit at most three vessels that may stay at this island area at the same time.


Under such protection, this island keeps its wild environment except the remains of pirates who had occupied and lived for three centuries, before the government has governed this island. Since the pirates had left, there had a rumour, which said that a treasure was hidden in somewhere. Nowadays, treasure hunting on island is prohibited of course. That the pirates bought introduced species to the island has been the most negative impact to the island, because birds have been hunted by them that did not have before.

過往我在外國潛水時和很多外國人傾談,說到理想的潛水性地,Cocos Island 是最常提及的名字。而距離680公里外的以達以文進化論聞名的加拉帕戈斯群島也是很有名。因受不同的水流的影響,加拉帕戈斯群島的水溫通常較Cocos Island 低很多,平均是22度攝氏,而Cocos Island 是25度。

In the past, when I talked with the foreign divers during overseas diving, they usually name Cocos Island as a dream place for diving. The second is Galapagos Islands where is just 680 km from Cocos Island. Because of having influence by difference currents, their water temperature has a large difference despite such close distance. In average, water temperature of Galapagos Islands is 22 degree Celsius while Cocos Island is 25 degree.


其實錘頭鯊或雙髫鯊的分佈很廣,無論太平洋及大西洋,甚至紅海也看到他們出沒,但一般也只在深水或不常見。錘頭鯊可分為幾個品種,分別是 扇形雙髻鯊, 流線雙髻鯊, 細眼雙髻鯊, 雙髻鯊 及 窄頭雙髻鯊。我們今次看到的都是扇形雙髻鯊這一個品種。
Scalloped hammerhead shark

Why do hammerhead sharks come here and swim shallowly?

As hammerhead sharks are a widely spread species, they may be found in the Pacific ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, I even saw once in the Red sea, but they swam very deep. Hammerhead shark has five species, which are Scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, small eye hammerhead shark, Great hammerhead shark, and bonnethead shark. They were scalloped hammerhead shark that we saw during this trip.

Cocos Island吸引牠們來,是因這裡是一天然「診所」(cleaning station),如鯊魚或其他大型魚類生了寄生蟲或有損傷,珊瑚區很多時會有醫生魚(如黑鼻蝶魚,天使魚或各種濑鱼等)幫助鯊魚等魚類咬走寄生蟲及傷口死皮。這時錘頭鯊會游近水底礁,減慢速度及身體作出擺動,以通知醫生魚來。因鯊魚是軟骨魚是沒魚鰾,如牠們要保持某一水平便需不斷游泳,所以當鯊魚在交配中,會除除下沉直至到水底或完事。部分鯊魚甚至要不斷游泳以使水能流經鰓以呼吸。

Manta Ray

Hammerhead sharks like other fishes may get sick or parasitic infection, so they need to go to underwater clinic periodically, which is cleaning station, where gathers many cleaner fishes, such as barberfish, angelfish, or wrasses, etc. They eat the dead skin of wound or parasites. When sharks come close to reef, they swim slow down and signal to the cleaner fishes. Because hammerhead shark is soft-bone fish that has no swim bladder, it needs to keep swimming all the time to maintain its level. Therefore, when hammerhead sharks are mating, both of them descend slowly to bottom, because they cannot swim and mate at the same time. Some shark's species even need to keep swimming for sucking sufficient water through their gills.

本來Cocos Island是一個全年都識合潛水的潛點,不過昨年(2018)是有點失色,因昨年正處於厄爾尼諾(El Niño)週期,這代表東太平洋水溫比平常高。我到達時發現水溫達攝氏27度,這不是牠們喜歡的水溫。所以數量比想像中是少了很多,特別是游近礁的數量非常有限。在這裡拍攝牠們的泳姿是最理想的,因說過牠們會游得較慢及接近鏡頭。根據不同的潛點,我們會停留在20至30米的深度,以守株待兔的方式等牠們游來。


Since Cocos Island is at tropical zone, there can be diving year-round, but it was not the best season last year (2018) when I have dove, because there was during the cycle of El Niño that means the water temperature of east Pacific ocean is higher than normal. When we have arrived, we found that the water temperature is 27 degree Celsius that is too high for hammerhead sharks, such that the number of sharks was much less than my expectation. There were not too many sharks that swam closed to the reef where is the best place to take photo and video, as they swim slower. According to difference dive sites' formation, we stayed between 20 to 30 meters depth to wait for their coming. Despite wrong timing, Cocos Island keeps its guarantee, as I could have taken some shots that they swam to me close enough. We also saw one poor hammerhead shark which has been being entangled by a fishing net and some lines have deeply cut into its fins.


Cocos Island有一非常可愛及有趣的小魚,牠們以塗了超紅唇膏及以鰭行路而聞名。牠們在淺水的沙地生活,以小魚為食糧,雖然牠們多數時間是行路,不過牠們也懂游泳的,牠可擺動尾鰭來前進。而且牠們有一極大優點,是牠非常懂得擺post.
Rosy lip batfish

Star of Cocos

Beside large fishes, there is a small fish that has sharp rosy lip, which like a woman who has lipstick's makeup, and walking by fins. This species can be spotted in Cocos Island and Galapagos Islands. They live on shallow sandy bottom and feed on small fish. Despite they usually walk, they can swim by swinging their tail. They are also good in posting.


娛樂潛水的最深深度是40米,任何正式訓練都提醒不能超越。如要挑戰,那便進入技術潛水,無論裝備及訓練都不同。在Cocos Island 營運的其中一間公司,特別訂做了一架主要作為娛樂用途的潛艇給未有機會挑戰深潛的人可親身體會水深三百米的環境。這公司的主要股東本身是一知名水底攝影師,船上特別預留私人房間,他幾乎是每個行程都會參加。他建做這潛水艇也有科研的考慮所以艇外亦有一機械手臂。而他亦因有這潛艇,得以發現一軟珊瑚家族(family),並在2012在科學上證實,這新家族的第一個品種便以他的名字命名。
DeepSea submarine

Deep dive experience

The maximum depth of recreation diving is up to 40 meters. Diving instructors always tell not to excess this limit. If anyone wanted to challenge this limit, it would be technical diving that is required special training and equipments. One company that runs in Cocos Island built a submarine, which provides deep dive experience to anyone who doesn't have deep dive training. This submarine can be used by both recreational and researching purpose, so it is equipped with a robot arm and a high definition camera. Using this submarine, the founder who built this submarine found a new family of soft coral. After this exploration has been confirmed scientifically in year 2012, his name names to the first species of this family.


The most important part of this submarine is its spherical dome, which makes by 4 inches acrylic. When this dome was modeled, they controlled the density of acrylic is as same as sea water, such that the people do not realize its exist underwater. It may serve two guests with a pilot for each descending. When it is a researching trip, one of them must be a robot arm technician.


During diving, our mask enlarges the objects that we see, but the dome shrinks the object to two third of its original size.


1. 如有電器漏電引發火警
2. 如操控員失去知覺,乘客怎樣接管控制權,及將潛艇升回水面。

Safety is the most concern to the operators. They have been lucky that this submarine has never happened accident. Each guest must be weighed for adjusting the balance of submarine and given a briefing when an emergency occurs. This briefing tackles 2 situations:

1. Electric fire
2. If pilot were unconscious, how the passengers would take control to the submarine and surfacing.
Of course, we have never used this.


Every trip, it requires two pilots to operate the submarine, one on surface and the other inside the submarine. Both pilots need to communicate frequently to report the monitoring data such as temperature, level of carbon dioxide and depth. The communication is through wireless that may transmit over several hundred meters. There is another assistant who works for attaching and detaching cables and taking photos to the guests from outside of the submarine.

這艘潛艇的設計可達的深度是超過四百米,不過娛樂用途時只會去到三百米,不過這深度已過了昏線(twilight zone),如沒燈基本上是全黑,相機也對不到焦。


The design depth of this submarine is 400 meters, but it only goes to 300 meters for recreational use. In this depth, it has been beyond the twilight zone that has no light. The difference between SCUBA diving and submarine is decompression. As the ambient pressure keeps in one atmosphere pressure, the absorption of nitrogen has no difference with on land, such that no decompression is required and the ascending rate is faster.

Frog fish
這艘潛艇的升降是由2個大氣囊的充氣及放氣控制,而我們呼吸的空氣是循環的,所以在水底不會有氣排出,不過亦可在有需要時排氣。而我們呼出的碳酸氣會由氫氧化鈉(sodium hydroxide)吸收,船內有儀器監察溫度,碳酸氣濃度,氧氣量及氣壓。

This submarine uses two large bladders  to control the ascend and descend and air is circulated internally, such that no air is emitted from the submarine, but it can be done if the pilot wants.

Jellonose fish
在此深度當然和淺水的環境有很大分別,這裡少了色彩,除了是深淺水也去的魚,基本上是灰黑灰白的。本來我祈望能在深水看到大群雙髫鯊游過,看到只在深水出沒的爆牙鯊或吻棘鲨. 當然這樣幸運的機會是非常少。不過這旅程也不是白去,有些只在深水生活的物種如 褶大辮魚.

Jellonose fish

Jellonose fish

Yellow conger eel
Inside the submarine on surface

Inside the submarine under 300m

At this depth, colour of creatures has diminished except those are living both shallow and deep. I hoped to see a large group of hammerhead sharks passing by us, ragged-tooth shark and prickly shark that only live in deep sea before the descend, but non of them has been seen. Fortunately, we saw some creatures that live in deep such as jellonose fish, frogfish and king crabs.



Trip information:

We took flights to the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, via Los Angeles and stayed one night. The operator hires an agent to pick up the guests on the day of departure between 8am and 1pm to the seaport, Puntarenas, where is the base of the vessels. Guests stay on the vessel for ten days usually and the operator offers Scuba diving, submarine experience and land trip to the island.

VISA: BNO holder needs visa, but it can be exempted with valid US' visa. HKSAR's passport doesn't require visa, but you also require an US' visa, if you transit through US' airports.


Annual diving in overseas, Simon's town, Cape Town, South Africa in 2017, looking for fur seals

In 2017, I planned to watch seals in South Africa. The species living there is belong to the family of fur seal. Fur seal and true seal are two difference families. Fur seal has external ear,  and true seal spends more time in water. This species are named South African fur seal.

This species is not aggressive as I might swim with them as close as inch and could see their facial hair clearly. They are the most curious sea mammal, because they always come to check us when we approach their area. This behavior doesn't happen on dolphins and whales.

South Africa fur seal

I booked a hotel, which is near the pier, was built over hundred years and bought by a Chinese several years ago. It is a two-storey building with only ten guest rooms.
Central Hotel Guest HouseOpens in new window

I met three Chinese in this trip,  the owner of this hotel, a dive master and a tourist guide who immigrated from Macau.

Diving in South Africa is challenging because its water temperature has only 14 degree Celsius in winter. In such low water temperature, there is lack of enthusiastic diver as me to visit, therefore I had to charter a boat and DM for diving. I dived four days and another 2 cage dives, while I had booked three, because the last one was cancelled due to weather condition. I made 12 dives in four days.

South African spiny lobster
Nearer Cape Hope, where was a challenging sailing route in the pass. Therefore, there had been making many wrecks. I visited several of them in this trip, although
most of the dives were seal watching.

South Africa is quite famous in abalone exportation, but I did not see any live abalone underwater.
I only saw their shells covered a large area in some dive sites.
Lobsters in South Africa have quite special behavior, which stand on the rock instead of hidden underneath of it.

After I had finished 4 days dive, I did cage diving for watching white sharks. The operator I joined was very poor. Firstly, they forgot to bring surface air supply on the first day, which I had ordered when I booked and I reminded them one day before at the pier. Secondly, they told me and my hotel's front desk that they would pick me up from my hotel, but they failed to do.
Beside the poor cage diving operator, South Africa is not a good place for white shark watching, because their cages are being floated on the sea and tightened to the boat. At a result, the cage swings and makes the guests hard to take a good video or photos. Mexico has a better arrangement, that their cages submerge several meters below the surface, as the movie 47 Meters Down shown.

Beside their teeth, shark's eye can be used to distinguish difference species.
White shark's eye is dark black, whale shark's eye ball can be sucked into its cavity and tiger shark's eyelid can flap repeatedly.

African penguin

Chick with his parent
African penguin is another major and famous local animals in Simon's Town. The most dense population is around the Boulders beach, where is built a protected zone, but visitors can also watch them very close. They built many shelters, their homes, on the middle of hill, where I watched many chicks.

African penguin can easily be identified by their pink eyes' shadow.

Although the beach has entrance fee, you may see many penguins along the non ticketing path. The left hand side's picture was taken there.

When my agent had received the message of cancelling of cage diving, he arranged a land trip for substituting.
I went to Cape of Good Hope where is the most south of western point of the African continent. Unlucky, it was a raining day. At a result, none of the wild animals shown up there. The guide said there are a lot of Chacma Baboons and zebras, which may be seen occasionally.
Chacma Baboons

I could not spot both of them in the national park. But when we had been returning to Cape Town, lucky, I saw a group Baboons which were crossing a road. I then realized that the size of this species is so small, whose size is similar to the monkeys that are living at Shek Lai Pui Reservoir, Hong Kong.


The best hard coral in Hong Kong - Tung Ping Chau 東平洲

I heard for a long time that Tung Ping Chau has an abundance hard coral near its pier.
Tung Ping Chau is one of the most remote diving sites in Hong Kong. It is not often that the diving operators in Hong Kong offer this diving site.

On 17th September, I dove there. We took one and half hour to travel there from Wu Kai Sha Pier. I planned to have three dives on that day. Before I entered to sea, the captain showed a map, which has an area marked as special region. Then I went there first to explore what special it was. This area is a sandy bottom with some sea anemones and clown fishes. I don't understand what the meaning of special is.
Then I turned to my target in second dive. When I saw the area of hard coral garden, I have rated that it is the best hard coral living area in Hong Kong. Many different hard coral species and even families grow together in very heathy condition and larger area. I was very enjoyable of this dive and didn't want to return.
When I have surfaced, they yelled me to return the boat at once. I wondered whether an accident happened. I asked them what happened to yell me. They said that they would change dive site because this dive site had nothing.
Oh my god, it was because they went to wrong area. I told them I saw the most beautiful hard coral area in Hong Kong, but it was too late. The boat was starting to travel and leaving Tung Ping Chau.
I was very angry that they even didn't do a little bit research about the dive site.
I was the only one who saw the beautiful hard coral.

I found that it was a so call instructor's suggestion.
We travelled in such long distance and time because of its beautiful hard coral. All this effort was wiped out by such a no sense hopeless instructor.

Platygyra carnosus

Favites pentagon


How much pressure will remain in tank when you can't breath from your regulator?當氣瓶沒氣時。

If you still remember what you have learned from your diving course, the intermediate pressure of the first stage is about 10bar. It means that a balance type first stage will supply 10 bar to second stage no matter how much air remains in the tank.
Will first stage supply air when tank pressure below 10 bar?
The answer is yes.
When tank pressure is below 10 bar, the piston will open freely.
At a result, the tank can be drawn to 0 bar.



星期日(2016年8月28日)在伙頭墳州(Bluff island, Hong Kong)潛水 ,下午看到一片紅。
而是一大群蝦在schooling. 數量至少過萬,球有5 至6米大.。 
泳姿是一直向前,而不是平時的shrimp 般向後彈。
可惜我部video 沒電.。 在斷電前影到的畫面.。
看書本說, krill是全球都有的,只是我未試過在熱帶水域看到,所以品種有待引證。


Sardine run 2016

因上年未能看到sardine, 是一條都看不到。所以今年再來一次,以完成看一次的心願。
重回一樣的lodge,建築物沒改,staffs沒變,只是manager 變了,所以有些管理方式是攪了新意思。有些staffs 還認得我上年來過。
而run sardine run 的operator, 絕大部分staffs都一樣,而我來之前指定要求的boat keeper,真是預留了給我。他是非常有經驗,後來證實他真是名不虛傳。
Boat keeper-Emil
我是參加了今年的第三round sardine run. 只有2條快艇,我船只有5人,分別有3個香港人及2個法國人。我學了一句非常易學的法文-sardine.
原來英文,中文,法文都是讀sardine. 我是在他們說法文時發現。


Lodge 與沙灘間的河

今年天空的雀非常少,所以今年沒有百鳥插水的壯觀情景。dolphin 數量都是少了。頭幾天,快艇南北穿梭,都找不到游得淺的sardine.去到尾2那天,終於在一海灣找到一群sardine, 不過未吸引到大群dolphin or bird 來hunting.

我今年並沒有帶SCUBA器材 , 只帶了spare air,今次有用了,看到有一群dolphin在游泳,我立即帶spare air下水,這樣可以在極近距離和dolphin 游了一會。如我想摸牠們,可以由頭摸到尾。
common bottlenose dolphin
到了最後一天接近中午,都是未找到sardine,他們在昨天的海灣下潛,要不是SCUBA unit便是白帶了。
他們潛完後,Emil 突然立即開船,本來以為是返回lodge,但他是直向南下,是相反方向。駛了10多20分鐘,在海面看到一群dolphin 在 hunting. 我們立即下水,看到sardine ball, dolphin and sharks 在hunting. 少量bird 有插水。

今年在lodge,每天都做一次massage. 這些masseur是當地的村民,他們本來是waitress,有客book時才變身為masseur.

這masseur除了是waitress外,還是業餘女子足球隊成員,曾經到Cape Town比賽。



Tigger shark teeth虎鯊牙

Lemon shark
其實鯊魚在水肺潛水員面前,也只是像一頭玩具狗,那些鯊魚很enjoy 給掃頭。
當我們面對tigger shark,全神補捉牠美妙的泳姿時,我們把其他reef sharks 只是當成海底奇兵的Nemo,由牠在我們腳邊刷過。


西貢滘西洲Black cardinal fish 滿口魚卵

2條在滘西洲的Balck cardinal fish,似乎是2夫婦,其中一條口中含了魚卵。


火石洲(Basalt Island) 的海葵林及flying gurnard

很少機會到火石洲潛,今次發現水下有一大片海葵林,生長仍很健康,所以週圍有很多小丑魚。還有小Oriental flying gurnard,這魚有一對很漂亮的pectoral fin.


南非沙甸大集合South Africa Sardine run


Mbotyi River Lodge

到Dubran後,需最少5小時車程才到酒店。酒店Mbotyi River Lodge大概落成了8年,每間房也是向海。雖然有泳池,但實在太小,只撥2下手己到對岸。
在南非看sardine run,都是用橡皮艇的,要從沙灘推下水。


雖然今年未能看到sardine,但水面的雀群飛插入水,Humpback whale向我們揮手,擺尾,大群dolphins(at least over thousand)在水面及淺水遊逆。
大部分時間都是用snorkel,所以再去的話,預備一個mini bottle,可以和dolphins一起近距離游泳。
通常我們早上看sardine run,大概下午一時多便回酒店,下午會去附近遊覽。其中一天還可乘10分鐘小型飛機。

看了七天sardine後,去了Cape Town看Great White Sharks,觀鯊點離市區很遠,要2個小時車程。不過在南非看Great White sharks是非常不值得。因operator沒從客戶角度考慮。他們把籠固定在船邊,這樣除了因浪令籠搖擺外,船因風吹更加擺動劇烈。不單看也困難,莫說要影。今次去了2天,第一天有3條,第二天只剩一條,而且只是不足2m長的小鯊。要研究有那些地方可更好看。




驟眼看,好像珊瑚出現白化。但細心看其實不是白化。那是coral polyps 縮成一團。
看以下短片,便知過程怎發生,未段coral polyps亦逐漸重開。



在第二次出海試衫時,遇到一對couple,他們用半technical equipment.原來他們也有用乾衣。當然當天沒有用。他們很大方的和我分享了一些用乾衣的心得,很有用。



The Bahamas 是全球第二個立法保護鯊魚的國家。
我們由West Palm Beach 出發向東骯行到The Bahamas 北面的Tiger Beach.
Map: Tiger beach, The Bahamas
我所看到的鯊有:Tiger shark, Lemon shark, Nurse shark, Caribbean reef shark
著有介紹鯊魚的書:Shark Close up

Lemon shark

Giant Grouper

除了鯊魚外,也有些Giant Groupers 來執死雞。牠們最喜歡被掃下巴。

Tiger shark
Tiger shark size compare with a man