No two dives are ever the same!
No two dives are ever the same. This statement holds true after 25 years of diving for me. But you might say, “What if you’re diving the same place again and again?” After working for almost a decade as a dive guide with thousands of dives… my answer is still the same!
Today was the perfect example. I had made some changes to my underwater camera setup last night and I needed to take a couple of test shots to tweak the lighting. So off I went across the reef to find a willing subject who wouldn’t fuss too much about a couple of photographs. A large green moray was in a cobra-like position a few feet away. I made the necessary adjustment to my camera from a distance, calmed my breathing and movements, and slowly drifted near the eel. He backed up a little into his reef crevice, but soon returned when he realized I wasn’t a threat. Perhaps seeing itself in the reflection of my camera’s dome port, it swam right up to the camera and started making faces.
I giggled a couple of times and then went about to the serious business of underwater photography. It took a few minutes of taking a shot, backing up, reviewing the shot, making slight camera adjustments and trying again before I was happy with the lighting.
It was at the five minute mark when everything seemed to be adjusted just right that I saw it begin to happen from a distance. A scarlet shrimp had swam out of hiding and was walking up the moray’s body. My eyes widened in anticipation. These shrimps are one of the most daring cleaners on our reefs. I could barely hold my excitement as the shrimp traveled to the moray’s cheek. Then it happened! The moray stretched its jaws as far as they can go and this very trusting little shrimp jumped right in!
The little shrimp even ventured towards the back of the eel’s mouth. The beauty of this odd behavior, known as a symbiotic relationship, is the fact that predation ceases to take place. The cleaner gets an easy meal, and the host gets a good cleaning, getting rid of unwanted parasites, all the while promising a parlay of sorts (think Pirate’s of the Caribbean) that the cleaner will not lose his life in the process.
The beauty of all this is what I originally said, “No two dives are ever the same.” I have seen countless eels on countless dives on these same reefs, but even something as ubiquitous as a green moray eel will surprise you every time. Sure, I’ve seen this cleaning behavior before but never have I had the close-up photo opportunity. Best of all, the eel and shrimp were kind enough to wait until I figured out my lighting before starting the show.
It’s moments like this that make me question when someone in the dive industry tells me they are tired of diving the same spot. Sure, the geology of the reef doesn’t change too much, but everything attached or swimming above it is in a constant state of change. Keep your eyes peeled for your next big underwater surprise. You never know when it’s going to happen!
Before I go, here are a few photographs of the divers and crew who joined us today on two glorious dives on Bath & Tennis and Tear Drop reef. In case you were wondering, the temperature was in the mid to upper 70s, visibility was in the 40ft+ (in my opinion), and the current was PERFECT (just a wee trickle north). Enjoy the photos and be sure to join us for some great diving in Palm Beach real soon.