Friday, July 28, 2006

Redang Pics 2

As requested, here are a few more Redang pics along with short little commentaries (shortened lest it might bore some of you busy people) ;-)

This is a shot of our dive company descending. For newbie divers, this part of the dive is the most nerve-wrecking as we have to constantly pace our descent and deal with a host of other problems like our breathing and equalizing our internal pressure with the outside pressure.

These two pictures (above and below) are another two kinds of nudibranches typically found in these waters. These belong to the Phyllididae family.

Eileen (our divemaster) joked that the reason a lot of u/w photographers love to look for nudibranches is that they are rather easy to shoot - they practically just sit there immobile. Hmmmm..... never thought about it that way. Very true in a way.

See that cute little thing that looks like a bubble? That's actually a jellyfish egg. Someone commented that it looked like a small blown up condom .... hehehe

This little critter almost bit my finger. It's a hermit crab which has 'hijacked' a shell for protection. Just in case you can't make it out, its eyes are the two black dots in the right half of the pic. Cute or not?

Headache!!! Hehehe. This pic was taken near the ship wreck off the coast near the Berjaya Redang Resort. It's a small boat and the only thing we could recognise on it were the toilet bowls (not in pic). And the diver in this shot was actually trying to clear his mask, not complaining of migraine.

Remember the "Nemo" pic? Well here is another type of clownfish - it has a different pattern on its body and the orange part is more intense to suit the strong, almost reddish hue sported by the anemone.

Ah.... as we approach the end of out dive (and holiday), Kevin took this 'artistic' shot.... He said it would be suitable as a pc monitor wallpaper. What do you think?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Redang 2006: A Photoblog

I love Redang. There's just something magical about this island that draws me there year after year. True, the natural wonders that had made her famous has been exhausted almost irreversibly by the ever increasing multitudes of tourists that make to her shores annually. However, conservationist efforts are underway to protect whatever's left of the rich and diverse marine life and I believe that in time, Redang will regain its former luster as an underwater paradise.

As for me, I go there at least once a year usually to chill out and also to hone my underwater photography skills. I've been scuba-diving for almost five years now and picked up u/w photography almost by accident - a friend had given me the underwater casing for my digital camera as a birthday present. Ever since then, I've been happily snapping away pictures of corals, sharks, anemones etc whenever I go diving.

Here are a few of them that I have just photoshopped.... Enjoy!

First up, this is the prerequisite "Nemo" picture. Anemones and their bodyguards, the anemone fish are staple inhabitants of tropical coral reefs. Lest you think these cute little fishes are all orange, they actually come in various colours and patterns - from the famous "Nemo" orange to purple, red and even black, depending on the colour of their 'house', the anemone.
This is a staghorn coral, so named due to a resemblance in its shape to stag horns. It is a type of hard coral and is actually made up of millions of tiny individual corals within the pores of the hard calcineous exoskeleton. Its brownish hue is due to the algae that reside within the tiny corals themselves and they all live in a symbiotic harmony that has lasted for millions of years.

Ok, this is a funny one. It's the first time I've ever seen anything like it in all my years of diving. It looks like a type of worm with lots of wriggly appendages that seem to be in motion all the time but never going anywhere. What caught my eye was its distinct blue colour which actually makes it stand out so much - an oddity in this camouflage-crazy marine environment.

According to our divemasters, Eileen and Ping Ping, it's jellyfish season now! Sharon, one of the members in our diving company was actually stung by one while diving and didn't even realise it till we got out of the water and saw the scars on her ankle. I think someone offered to pee on her feet.... eeewwww!

Later, Jan Sher, the uber-dive instructor and fellow u/w photography enthusiast, managed to catch hold of one and we found a hitchhiker on board - this semi-transparent shrimp which was also performing some housecleaning for its gracious host.

Don't squirm. This metre-long creature is actually a Chinese delicacy - the sea cucumber. Ok, maybe not this particular species. The sea cucumber actually performs a very important task in the grand scheme of things - it sucks up the seabed of debris, dead animals and plants (sort of like a marine vacuum cleaner) - and keeps the seabed clean and healthy.

This is a giant clam with its mouth semi closed. Approach it noisily and it will immediately shut its mouth tight. Don't bother looking for pearls in its belly unless you fancy losing a finger or two.

One thing I love about the scuba diving experience is the weightlessness effect - you almost feel like you're flying down there. Belly flops and "crouching tiger"-like stunts are performed with the greatest of ease. Here we see Kevin thinking that he is Superman. Or should that be Aquaman?

This cute little bugger is a nudibranch which is essentially a type of sea slug. They come in a variety of colours and patterns and I am utterly fascinated by the designs on their bodies. We found this fella perched on the railing of a small wreck off the Berjaya Redang Resort. It measured only 1 1/2 inches long and was quite easy to spot due to its colourful body display.

And this is another nudibranch that's orange in colour. Its of a different species than the one above and we found this hanging in the shadowy wall of a coral mound.

Lest you think there are no fish left in Redang, here's a beautiful but deadly fish. It's called a Lionfish due to the distinct reddish stripes on its body. It also possesses stinging appendages on its fins which can immobalise would -be predators and prey. But so cute, right?

This is Kevin, his wife Adele and our divemaster on duty, Eileen floating merrily during our 3-minute stop at a depth of 15 feet to make sure we get rid of all the extra nitrogen from our body before we surface.

Redang isn't all sand and beach. This rocky outcrop tucked away at a corner of Pasir Panjang strikes a beautiful contrast to the white sandy beach next to it and forms a lovely bookend to a picture-perfect tropical paradise.

Ah... imagine sitting on one of these deck chairs at dusk, sipping an ice-cold glass of lemon tea, as you gaze lazily at the sun setting over a pallette of yellow and orange hues above the emerald waters..... Heavenly!