Sunday, July 07, 2019

Divers in romance (part 4) My first oversea diving trip - Great Barrier Reef, Australia 潛水員的浪漫(四)大堡礁之旅

The most difficult thing of the instructor's course was to overcome the low water temperature, because our course took place in winter. The water temperature was as low as 15 degrees Celsius. 
Rescuing a victim from bottom
The second difficulty was rescue examination. I was almost exhausted during the examination that required us to pick a victim who drowned under 6 meters depth from the bottom and brought him onto the beach. Following, I gave CPR on him. 
Giving pure oxygen


Other than a series of examinations, the remaining requirement was to fulfil the accumulated number of dives. Therefore, we planned an oversea trip. 

There are so many dive sites we want to visit. Camilla suggested Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Then I asked her whether she can stay on a vessel for 9 days and resist seasickness. She said she has had no seasickness during the past local trips, as the sea was not too rough. I said I am highly resistance to seasickness, because I had an experience recently.

My mother was passed away last years. Her will was scattering her cremains at sea. My family got on a ferry that was provided by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong government. This service is free of charge because they provide an incentive to persuade more people to take this option for their relative's cremains, such that it will decrease the demand of riches. 
The leaflet on scattering of cremains at sea

As this service was not too popular at that time, they just hired a small ferry. When they parked at the scattering area where was at the east of Tung Lung Chau, the ferry didn't have anchor.
It has been being swung for the whole ceremony.
scattering of cremains area
I saw almost all the guests who began to vomit shortly except me and my family. I then make a not too scientific conclusion. That anyone has the ability of resistance to seasickness is by genetic. I have to thank my parents.

I celebrated mother's day while I was diving near there.

I told her my experience and asked whether she might adapt a live on board journey. 

She replied she would be alright and asked: "If I got seasickness, would you take care of me?"

I was stunned for a moment and said "Uh-huh".

Camilla turned her head and looked at me.
I said again with smile: "Certainly, of course."

She did some research about live on board information and chose a route to Flinders Reef, Coral Sea, which was operated by Mike Ball dive Expeditions. 
Mike Ball
Their vessel has twin hulls. She thought it may be more stable, but she was wrong.  
Spoilsport vessel

The vessel, Spoilsport, departed from the town, Townsville. After we had traveled several hours, the vessel became to ride on heavy swells. It was rocked back and forth even though it has twin hulls.
She felt dizzy and coming to vomit. I told her she might go outside to have fresh air and look distant objects. Outside her room, there is a dive deck. We sat on the bench. After we had sat for a while, I felt her shiver. I asked her whether she felt cold. Then she sat between my thigh and made me to cuddle her. My left hand surrounded her belly and right hand put on her shoulder and chest. She caressed my hand and said she was warm. Smelling her hair and touching her skin, I couldn't resist my basic instinct. As she was embraced closely, she had to feel it. 

After she had sat for a while, she felt better. When she had fallen asleep, I carried her in my arms like a bride back to her room.

She looked ravishing while she was sleeping. I was stunning for a while then I kissed her forehead and put a blanket on her. 
Have I been fond of her or fallen in love with her? I struggled to stay or leave for several minutes.

We arrived in Flinders Reef at night. Before each dive, the programme manager, Black, introduced a very comprehensive briefing for the dive site. As Australia diving practice, no dive master leads divers. They require divers in buddy system to dive by themselves. 
school of jacks

The visibility of Coral Sea was very great. The operator, Mike Ball, guaranteed 45m visibility. For environmental protection, they set some permanent anchors on each dive sites. We made our entry from the stern, which is over 2m above the surface. You may watch the below video. The guy who plays with the sharks stands at this entry platform. From this video, you will know their highlight is scuba zoo where has two large cages for divers to watch sharks' action safely. They fished some big tuna fishes during the voyage, chopped them into several pieces and put them into a basket.
 
Black-the programme director of Mike Ball
The programme director, Black, who was drop dead gorgeous in wearing his marine camouflaged long sleeve wet suit with a pair of long blade fins, shook the basket to attract more sharks to gather there for us taking photos.

Unfortunately, this is a risky job. He was bite by a shark and made a teeth mark on his right hand during his next schedule of our trip.  
Black


From the recent information, there are no operators to run this route because the trip is quite long and lack of guests.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Divers in romance (part 3) We have been the Scuba diving instructor潛水員的浪漫(三)成為水肺潛水教練

We joined a master diver course, which consists lectures only.
This course teaches the diving related knowledge much comprehensive. The course has twelve topics, which are the enhanced version of beginner course. 
Naui dive table

We learnt how the figures of the dive table were calculated.

The current common dive tables that show on the left hand side are based on Haldane Theory, which was developed and researched by a British physiologist John Scott Haldane in early 20th century.

After a series of experiments, he found that decompression sickness is governed by inert gases, which are mainly nitrogen, that has been absorbed by body's tissues under pressure. To make use this theory for diving, US's Navy simplified it into a table that divers can easily use it for dive planning. Other diving institutes referenced Navy's table to make their own dive tables later.

This table is based on two main factors.
1. The amount of saturation of nitrogen under a given depth and temperature in difference tissues has been
Value for calculation of Half-time
absorbed.

2. The time of nitrogen releases half of its original amount when pressure has been reduced.







Nowadays, the diving society has developed a more advanced model that
Explanation of RGBM


is Reduced Gradient Bubble Model (
RGBM), which has been developed from the research leading by Dr. Bruce Wienke
Dr. Bruce Wienke
at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This model is based on gas dynamic, which will be too difficult to be explained in this story, because one of the application of this theory is on the soundless travelling of submarine.


These series of courses had so many lectures and required dive logs that we needed to keep to fulfil the course requirement. It was a good chance for me to have excuse to meet her.  We have usually met to have lunch or dinner before taking lessons and she has always drove me to my home after lessons or diving. I appreciated her to do me a favour, but I was quite worry about her driving alone to return home.  

Diving in Hong Kong had a lot of interesting things that could be seen. Once, Camilla saw a flounder that was trapped by a abandoned fishing net. We saved it finally and it was swimming happily to return to the ocean.
Diving in Hong Kong is also a good chance to practice finning and control buoyancy. The most common finning technique is flutter kick that provides the most powerful propellant.
Maximizing your effort, you must keep your leg straight, instead of kicking like riding a bicycle. I saw an instructor whose finning was as bad as the below video.
I didn't know how he could be certified as an instructor. He made a tragedy after he had been an instructor for one year. His buddy was dead during a dive, but someone told me that he was teaching an advanced scuba diving course.

After master diver course, we had started to study instructor course. Why did we jump to instructor course? It was because the course director combined rescue diver, dive master and instructor course into a combined course. That we just had a single examination of rescue and first aid and CPR was a great advantage for us. 
CPR practice

As diving experience that logged by number of dives is a basic requirement of difference courses, we have kept to have fun dives in Hong Kong. In the summer, Sai Kung has many visitors who cause over demanding of car parks. One time,  she took over half an hour to look for a car park, and we almost missed the schedule of the boat. Then she said: "I need to ask for my father to borrow his car." I thought why difference cars may have difference priority for parking.

In the next week, she came to me with a new car that was a Benz and she sat at the back. I wondered whether the driver is her father. She then introduced him to me that the man whose name is Simon was her father's driver. I then understood the meaning of borrowing her father's car. I also felt relief that she needed not drive alone to return home.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Divers in romance (part 2) to be an instructor 潛水員的浪漫(二)

After we were certified as beginner divers, we enrolled in an advanced course. For beginner divers, they are limited to maximum depth 18 meters. When they have advanced level, the limit is 40 meters and they may have night dive. 

For diving safety, every diver must have buddy. As Camilla and I were single, the instructor paired us to be the buddies. Sometimes, we needed to hold our hands under water to prevent missing, because the visibility was very low that is quite common in Hong Kong.
I learnt later that this is a merit for training, because you will not scare easily when you dive in a good visibility environment later.


An advanced diving course is a combination of several individuals diving techniques, such as night dive, deep dive, navigation, search and recovery, using diving computer and light salvage.


As there are not too many dive sites that are convenient for deep dive training in Hong Kong, we just practiced at 18 meters, which just met the requirements of the course's standard. The deepest sea in Hong Kong's region is a valley by the Beaufort Island, whose depth is 70+ meters.
Beaufort Island
 Most of the dive sites are much less than this. It is very dark at 18 meters in Hong Kong, because they are usually muddy bottom under such depth. The main purpose of deep dive training is to test whether you may experience nitrogen narcosis, which is tested by doing calculation at the bottom. At this depth, we may experience a lower water temperature, a greater water pressure, a longer descent and ascent time and looking absorption of sun light.
Absorption of sun light under various depth


Causes of nitrogen narcosis
Underwater, all nitrogen is not expelled during exhalation; when pressure increases, the nitrogen is forced from the lungs into the blood, and from the blood into the tissues, including the brain.  Nitrogen narcosis mimics alcohol intoxication. And just as with alcohol, different divers have different degrees of susceptibility to nitrogen's effects and may experience varying intensities of narcosis from one day to the next. The exact mechanics of the syndrome are not well understood. One theory is that the nitrogen blocks neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain, resulting in a distortion of electrochemical signals.
The level of the disability varies, depending on the physical and emotional state of the diver that day, the water temperature, and the extent of disorientation that can occur with ever-changing underwater visibility. The sense of time itself can grow distorted, and the diver may feel euphoric. Sometimes, a diver may feel sad, but he may also feel paranoia. Unlike an alcohol buzz, which lasts for a while even after the person stops drinking, nitrogen narcosis is thought to leave no comparable negative residual effect, and all the divers who are unduly affected have to do is ascend to a shallower depth, and their wits will return immediately. 

After we were certified as an advanced diver, we celebrated at a Sai Kung's restaurant. Camilla asked me whether I may be her buddy, because she needed more practices to gain confidence and she has been feeling she was comfortable to dive with me as I have shown I am good in the performance of diving techniques and care of her. I replied her: "Sure, why not? It is my pleasure to have your trust."

I lived in Hong Kong Island where is quite far from Sai Kung to where I had to take more than one hour public transport. She offered she may pick me up in the morning because she also lives in Hong Kong Island. It was ever the first time that I had a chance to ride by Maserati.


After we have made several fun dives, the course director who was the owner of the dive shop, Hong Kong Institute of Scuba Training, persuaded us to have further education of diving. 

What is the progress of learning diving?
Flow chart of Scuba diving courses
In simple, the next step is master diver and then rescue diver, which is the highest level of non-leadership level. The next is dive master, instructor, instructor trainer and course director, which are leadership level.

As I wanted to have an excuse to dive with her, I have desired to take these courses. I asked her: "Do you have interest to become an instructor?" She replied: "If you took instructor course, I would join also." I thought we would have many chances to meet and dive together.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

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 at 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.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

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.
人類表達愛意會拖手,擁抱,接吻或做愛。大家的共通點是有肌膚的接觸。而魚也一樣,牠們會用鰓來互磨。

Saturday, March 02, 2019

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.


在這些限制下,保留了此島及週邊海域的原始風貌,除了在此前300多年來留下的歷史,所以亦不可說是原始狀態,特別是此島早期是由海盗佔領,他們給島帶來了外來生物如豬、羊、鹿、老鼠及貓等,給島上的鳥帶來新的捕獵者。過往有一個不能證實的傳說:島上有以前海盗留下的寶藏。亦曾經吸引人去尋寶,不過沒人成功過,當然現正己禁止尋寶了。


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.



錘頭鯊為何在此處淺水出現?

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。

雖然時間不對,因這地方是有保證,我們也能拍得牠們的近照。中間還看到其中一條身體給破魚網纏著,那些網都界入牠的背發尾鰭。

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.



當地的魚明星 

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.


深潛的體驗

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.

這潛艇最重要的部分除了維生系統便是它四吋厚的膠園球。這園球制造時將密度調控至與海水一至。這目的是使人在水下時看不到這殼的存在。潛艇每次可載一個控員及兩個參加者,即最多三人。在科研時其中一人需要是機械臂操控員。


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.


我們潛水時,配帶的面鏡會把物件放大,但潛艇的球殼是把景物縮小三分一。

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

雖然下潛時間不長,這潛艇亦從沒發生意外,不過每名參加者都要磅重及教授預到突發時的操作。磅重要計算潛艇的平衡,有差別便要加重物消除不平衡。他們是假設2大可能的意外,而是可即時人為控制的:

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。
當然我們是沒機會應用得上。

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.

潛艇每次出發,其實是需要兩個操控員加一個助手,因在下潛時,潛艇內的操控員不斷要向水面的操控員報告船上的各項參數。而助手是幫潛艇解纜及幫參加者拍攝打咭照。水底通訊在幾百米的範圍內是可無線進行的,就像用全面罩配的通訊儀器一樣的技術。


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。

潛艇和水肺潛水的最大分別是它不用理會減壓,因倉內一直控制在一個大氣壓。所以我們不會吸入過量的氮氣,不用減壓停留,亦可用較快的速度上升。

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.


行程:

香港經洛杉磯再到哥斯達黎加首都聖何塞機場,在市內住一晚,翌日早上船公司派車接到碼頭(Puntarenas)上船,一般會在船上住十天。其間在島及週邊海域活動,有潛水,潛艇體驗遊及登島陸上行。
簽證:BNO需要,但如有美國簽証可豁免。特區護照免簽証,但如需過境美國也需有美國簽証。

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.



Monday, July 02, 2018

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.