Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Launch - You've Only Just Begun

This month, we are celebrating the launch of our latest book, You've Only Just Begun, in the USA. It's been researched, written and designed with young graduates in mind. Check it out - hopefully you'll know someone to share it with. We are VERY happy with the production quality which gives a big format coffee table feel in a palm sized hardcover format.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dive Number 5, The Channel, Goat Island Bay

We haven't been diving for a month. Where does the time go? Rain has been falling and wind blowing for the last two weeks - but a month? The forecast today is somewhat challenging for a small boat to make it around Cape Rodney, so we’ve decided to do the dreaded shore dive. It's not shore diving per se that were against, but rather the trudging of dive gear from the car; parking the car; and the sand that will inevitably infiltrate every crease of clothing, gear and skin. In two, or maybe 3, words, we’re fussy! As we heave our tanks onto our backs, the glass bottom boat skipper tells us, "it's horrible there." Encouraging. He explains,” the water's black.’ On most summer days, and every weekend, the glass bottom boat takes dozens of people for a journey through the reserve. They alight the boat full of anticipation, and disembark chattering about all the fish they’ve seen and the water clarity. He’s decided to forego any income and NOT take passengers out today. Nobody likes disappointment.

Sensible – they’ll see nothing. Ominous – we’ll see nothing.

We HAVE to get in the water, we’ve come too far to repack the car with dry gear. The water is darker than tea. Tannins have leeched from the copious seaweed that lies tangled along the beach. Further evidence of the last weeks’ storms. The seaweed is up to 40 cm thick in places and very spongy underfoot.

Of course, the glass bottom boat skipper is right. We can’t see anything. Not a thing. Not even each other. It’s diving by Braille. We optimistically head out into the Bay - side-by-side and holding hands. Nothing romantic, just self preservation you understand. If we lose contact we will almost certainly not find each other again, especially underwater. The water does eventually clear and we head out to sea through the channel where the visibility is drastically improved. It’s now a consistent two metres, even three in places. No need to hold hands now – besides Darryl is keen to try to salvage some pictures out of this dive. And he needs two hands to do that.

We stumble across a couple of eagle rays that scamper away quickly into the doom and a school of parore sweep past. All kinds of shells and small animals are scavenging amongst the rubble and kelp. Some, like tiny nudibranches are struggling to hold on. Nevertheless they seem to be on patrol – they are scattered all over the seafloor. Darryl hasn’t even noticed the little stuff. I’ve never seen quite so many clown nudibranches at Goat Island Bay, and wish I had a macro camera. In fact, I wish I had my own housing and camera. I do, but it shoots film and we don’t shoot film anymore! Darryl, predictably, has a wide angle lens on his camera. I notice that Darryl is attracting a collection of snapper . Six pretty mature fish are following behind him as dutifully as I am. I’m sure they are not as dependent on his navigational skills as I. Silently, I muse whether this is pure animal magnetism or just his funky split fins. ( I don’t have a pair of those either!)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Not much diving lately

Since we last ventured underwater, the weather has been awful. Rain, rain, and more rain. So instead, I've been reading the book Shark Trouble by Peter Benchley. He’s the author of Jaws amongst many other books. Shark Trouble is a book about his underwater experiences with sharks and other scary sea creatures. It’s a fascinating read – Peter reflects on many years of underwater experience in the quest of (mostly) documentary footage of sharks’ behaviour. He makes a very valid observation:

“None of us would stroll casually into the Amazon jungle, wearing nothing but a bathing suit and carrying for protection a tube of sun cream and a can of bug spray. We know that the jungle is not our natural habitat; we realize we’re intruders in the jungle, and that in the jungle there are creatures that regard us as a threat or as prey, and will use every mechanism nature has given them – sting, bite, poison, whatever – to ward us off or attack us. We know that large predators live in the jungle and that, through ignorance or intent, they might regard us as food. In short, we accord the jungle the respect it deserves.”

Peter’s point is that we DON’T do the same for the ocean and we should. Essentially, its never the shark's fault! Peter is an engaging writer about this subject that he has become such an expert about. I’m quite keen to read Jaws and some of his other work now, but remember that the movie was very frightening when I saw it as a child. I have intentionally avoided watching it again since I began scuba diving. But perhaps the time has come to face those fears...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Eyes on Whangateau Harbour

A selection of Darryl’s photographs are on display as part of an exhibition entitled Eyes on Whangateau Harbour which was launched to celebrate the start of Seaweek. The exhibition features a few local and internationally renowned photographers. The photos are now on display at the Tara Poolman gallery in Matakana. All of the images are available for purchase.

The Whangateau Harbour is a pristine estuary 60-80 minutes drive from Auckland. It boasts abundant shellfish, healthy intertidal habitats and estuarine plants. During dry periods, at high tide, snorkelling here is hard to beat.
Check out the harbour care group's website:
How to find the Tara Poolman Gallery: