Tabbataha Reef Part 2

April 29

More diving at the north atoll. There are many, many boats plying the Tabbataha area. We were told 14 this week. So even though I‘m pretty sure the boats coordinate where each is going to be each day, we share the dive sites with other boats. Occasionally we pass one of our groups and every once in a while we come across a different boat’s group.

The four dives today had varying current conditions. One dive was medium to strong current. We could not stop to see anything and the last few minutes of the dive were a magic carpet ride. One dive was mostly docile. We flited around from place to place and if we wanted to stop and take a picture or just observe something it was possible. The last dive had a bit of everything. We don’t spend much time kicking into the current but there was one spot on the last dive I could not make any progress. I probably could have if completely necessary but I am not going to kill myself just to swim up current when we can turn around and go with it. The dive master wasn’t making any headway either so we were soon headed in the reverse direction.

On the second dive we headed out into the blue and tried to spot a hammerhead or two. No luck. We did see a lot of sharks. Mostly white tip, some black tip and I think a couple of grey reef sharks. I finally started to be able to ‘see’ things again. Up till now I have been blinded by the abundance of visual stimulation. Today I found two nudi’s. Funny I think this environment should have many nudi’s but between the five of us in our dive group we have only found a few.

Tabbataha Natural Park

The water is really warm. I have not felt cold for more than a minute on any dive. There are many thermoclines. Not horizontal layers but warm and cold up and down wellings of colder and warmer water. We pass through them but in the end my computer figures out the average temperature and it has been around 85F.

The excitement of the day came on the first dive. 40 minutes into the dive M, the other lady diving with us, had an O ring on the swivel attached to the mount piece of her reg. blow. There were bubbles everywhere, her vision was completely obscured and she had no idea where she was in the water column. The dive master was quick, grabbed her and held her down and managed to get his octopus to her. We aborted the dive. That was the first dive I have ever been on that was aborted because of an emergency. M wasn’t even really shaken by the whole thing. The other four of us were far more concerned than she was.

Tabbataha Natural Park

April 30

OK diving again today. Currents still and issue. The last dive, we only did 3 today, the current was so strong we couldn’t stop if we wanted to. I think we should have just aborted the dive. I should have taken it for what is was and enjoyed the magic carpet ride but I was just frustrated. We surfaced early. We had crossed two dive sites and were a long way from the mother ship. The pangas did not know where we were in the ocean and it took an extra long time for us to get picked up. The other dives were unspecial.

Debbie writes:

Yup, today’s currents were rocking. The first fast current was along the wall, so the trick is to stay close to the wall to go slower. But the problem is that we get sucked into the wall and knock the coral, which we try very hard not to destroy. The currents seemed to be coming from everywhere, up, down, left, right so it is very hard to control buoyancy. I thought it was just me but later heard everyone was having the same issues. The magic carpet ride was smoking and we ended up in the “washing machine”, where two currents collide and cause turbulence. The dive master didn’t keep us in there very long and we went to the blue to be picked up. Once of the surface, we were far from the mother ship with no pangas close, so we floated patiently, trying to stay together in the choppy water, until we are spotted and the trusty pangas came to get us. It definitely is an exciting day.

Tabbataha Natural Park
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