Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bull Shark Mania!

The prime Bull Shark season is in full swing and the first batches of killer shots for 2008 are already starting to populate the world wide web.

The Running of the Bulls has exceeded even our wildest anticipations, with over 30 Bull Sharks turning up on every dive. Our record so far: 36 fish heads gone in 28 minutes, then the fish bin was empty and the show over.
With the exception of Kinky and Long John who usually turn up later in the year (beats me why, but that's the pattern), all of the usual suspects have already made an appearance and are busy teaching the proper etiquette -don't rush, come in from the left- to the newbies.
Word seems to be spreading that Shark Reef is the place to be and the numbers of newcomers are truly staggering, ranging from several big females to dozens of sub-adults fresh from the nursing areas. This is a big challenge for the feeders as especially the small teenage males display much, eh, attitude and always try to rush in for a quick snap. Makes Whitenose, our longest lasting regular male, look placid by comparison!
Talk about intense!

Any Tiger Sharks?
You bet, especially huge and mellow Scarface, always an awesome and amazing experience.

Also present Whitetail the Lemon Shark who doesn't stop getting bigger and loves spooking the guests. Giant Groupers Ratu Rua and Ratu Tolu with their escort of Golden Trevallies. And all of the "lesser" characters, amongst which for the first time an elusive male (!) Silvertip Shark and of course the ever troublesome Gray Reef Shark duo of Bevis and Tootsie.

Juerg of course is having one hell of a time.
The adjacent reefs are littered with acoustic receivers and the data are coming in fast and furious. Plus, we're learning about dominance, field testing the latest generation of sat tags, evaluating our huge database and ever refining our procedures.
All very very cool, and loads of fun in the process!

And what about the other reefs out there?
Despite having been pummeled by the tail ends of not one, but two Tropical Cyclones that sandblasted some of the popular dive sites like Side Street and one of the wrecks and despite the mild La Nina conditions favoring an outbreak of Crown of Thorns Starfish, Beqa Lagoon never ceases to provide for exhilarating coral dives and amazing encounters.

Take this little guy for example, one of maybe a dozen ever photographed worldwide.
Dubbed the Hairy, or Irish Setter Ghost Pipefish, it is so elusive that it hasn't even been described, i.e. scientifically named yet!

The pictures in this blog are from patsOn 2.0's fabulos Blog "dreams and nightmares of beqa lagoon". PatsOn was with us at the beginning of January, not a photo pro by any stretch of the immagination and best described as "self effacing": but what a truly gifted photographer!
Do you speak Russian? Me neither, but Alta Vista helped me to at least get the gist ("Benga of lagoons awaits you!") of the informative, emotional and humorous descriptions.

All I can say is: Whow!!!
Very, very well done and спасибо vakalevu!


the One called "Bitey"... said...

Shark Reef was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and seeing Alexander's pics (first on Flickr, then on his blog) were a painful reminder of how badly I want to go back....
Hopefully I see all you guys again before too long.....

Anonymous said...

So a Hairy Ghost pipefish finally made its way onto a shark blog.

Have to say after months of excitement here in Vava'u and conversations about what they are, that you have succumbed to putting smaller, less toothy animals on your website.

I think its great that the cute and the hairy have a place in your heart as well.