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Diving with Dunces
BobHalstead - 4/29/2013 7:24 AM
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Category: Educational
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By Bob Halstead

Diving Dunce has been trying to upset me again. “Don’t take this personally” he says, so I know it is really personal, “but this diving is not good”.

We just had some very bad unseasonable weather and I had not been able to take Telita to our first choice of sites. I am fundamentally unhappy about my lack of ability when it comes to controlling the weather, visibility and tides but, unlike others, I have read of King Canute, who brought his throne to the beach and ordered the tide not to come in. I would like to be able to tell you that he was swamped, the silly arrogant fool that he was, but he probably just got his feet wet. Whatever, I learned the lesson. Hey Guys, Weather is Out of My Control!

Dunce keeps raving on about the last place he dived off some fantastic island – where every dive is perfect. Always clear, calm water with stupendous corals and lots of big animals. I must book there myself.

Actually the dive was fine, a sheltered (out of the bad weather!) muck dive with plenty of exotic critters – ghost pipefish, frogfish, mantis shrimp – OK, I admit none of them were more than a meter long which would have been the smallest size for Dunce to notice. It amazes me that there are still divers out there that are distraught if they do not see sharks and barracuda on every dive. Today’s sophisticated divers generally want much more, such as wonderful weird critters. I would not run a dive cruise without searching for weird critters on at least some of the dives. Sharks are great, but getting harder to find world wide mainly because of shark finning. One thing I have noticed (let me know if you have too) but there seem to be far more turtles around these days. I guess with fewer sharks, more turtles survive.

Telita Dive has a large inventory of good dive sites that can be used when the weather is not doing its bit, and an even larger inventory of excellent openwater reefs for fine weather, and we have wrecks. What people always remark on is the variety of sites we offer on any one cruise. Bad weather never lasts long.

I decide to set our nautilus trap to capture and release these fascinating creatures from the deep ocean. Usually, and especially if guests have not seen nautius before, diving with them is an awesome experience. I thought Dunce would go rapturous and forget all other dive sites. On previous cruises, after the nautilus dive, guests have been known to take me aside, grasp my hand, and tell me what a deeply moving experience it was. Swimming with an animal half a billion years old … and that was just with me, before they even saw the nautilus.

Anyway, when it comes time for him to collect one of the 14 nautilus we have caught to take on the dive he says “Well, I don’t like to be uncooperative,” so I know he has no intention of cooperating, “but no thanks, I’ll just watch the others”. “Dear Sir” says I, “We need you to help return the Nautilus back to their abyssal homes” (sotto voce “All the way to 250 meters preferably”).

He must have read my mind since later, after an exploratory dive he reports that the new reef is dead and covered with algae and how sorry he is for the local people for this to be happening to them. “Don’t get upset” Dunce says, so I know he wants me to get upset, “I know you are trying to take us to good sites, it is just so sad.” I think evil thoughts – it will be sad for you when I turn off your air at 40 m, Ha Ha Ha!

Then, justice! The next diver comes out of the water raving about all the beautiful live corals and caverns and says how she would have loved to spend another couple of hours on the dive….. her buddy surfaces and I check with him. “Dunce had a bad dive” I informed him. “No such thing as a bad dive! Only bad divers!” Now the ball is rolling “Even the worst dive is better than a day in the office”. I love these two.

I decide to check the dive out myself. There is some algae but what is more obvious is that, along with a multitude of healthy adult corals, there are hundreds of young corals regenerating on the reef. This reef is not sick, it is in a process of rejuvination. The dive is a joyful experience.

“I really don’t want to tell you this” Dunce says, so I know he just cannot wait, “But that infected foot of yours looks very bad”. “Ah but Sir” Quoth I, “I know just where to kick it for an instant cure” ….