Good news, everybody! I just got some still images of my open water night dive in Hawaii. Finally . . . photographic proof I was sitting in the dive boat. You’ll still have to trust me that I actually jumped in.
Don’t I look serious? You’d think I was about to dive at night into 4,000 feet of shark-infested* waters. Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking at that moment, other than probably trying to quiet my mind and prepare myself mentally. As you can see, the lights of Kona are not far behind us, and quite comforting. As recounted in Wonderful Pelagic Things, which I’ve updated with some of these photos to reflect what I saw, dive in I did. Here is some of what we saw (all photos are by Jeff Leicher and/or the crew at Jack’s Diving Locker):
I’m not really sure what this was, although it does look squid-like. I don’t recall seeing this one personally. These photos are a bit deceptive in that in order to capture the animals on film, the camera underexposes the background. In real life, our lights lit the water a vivid blue, not black as it seems here.
Here’s one of the pros with their big expensive camera. This photo helps give you the feel for the sort of equipment needed to film in these conditions, and most definitely not affordable by me. It should also help give you an idea for the size of most of these creatures relative to us.
Here is one of the ctenophores, or comb jellies, that we encountered. You may recall from my post that just as I started looking at one, it sucked up a tiny pink plankton for dinner. This may or may not be the one — I can’t tell if that thing in its gullet is it, but in my recollection, it was definitely bright pink.
No idea what this is, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to see it personally. Jeff has labeled it as a “quadropus”, presumably the four-tentacled cousin of an octopus, but according to wikipedia, that is a fantasy creature. Any marine biologists out there have any ideas?
This is the fantastic heteropod I missed, with what looks like a small squid or fish in the distance at the tip of its tail. These guys are phenomenally cool ex-mollusks (and I mean that in the same sense as ex-Marines) that have forsaken their snail shells to swim naked and free in the ocean like vicious little hippies. They look for the other pelagic creatures from which to take bites using their saw-like radulas at the tip of a Futurama-esque eye-stalk (but is not — the eyes are at its base). The larval forms still possess coiled mollusk shells, but they lose them when they become adults. They also possess a single “dorsal fin” — which is actually totally inaccurate because it is really ventral (stomach side — they swim “upside-down”) and was originally the mollusc’s foot – which they undulate and paddle about with. For some reason, when moving, they remind me of Sir Hiss tooling about in that ridiculous balloon at the tournament in the 1973 Disney “Robin Hood” (see 2:15 here). Some species possess a sucker on their “fin” which the heteropod no doubt uses to hold its prey still while it savages it alive.
And finally, we have the “alien pelagic peanut creature” whose identity I still have not confirmed (Egg mass? Gummy snack?) with a little shrimp hitching a ride. Still have no idea what the heck these are, but they sure look cool. Any ideas, readers?
*”shark-infested” intended humorously only. I love sharks as I love all ocean life — just as long as they’re not actively gnawing on/envenomating/ovipositing into me.