Monday, November 10, 2014

A "SMACK" of Moon Jelly Fish

During the summer of 2002, my wife Denalee, my oldest son Trevor, and I were kayaking in NO THOROUGHFARE BAY in Sitka Sound in Alaska. We were at the narrows when we came upon a Smack of Moon Jelly Fish. I had seen large Smacks in the Sound, but that was always from larger tour vessels, so taking photos of the Moon Jellies from the surface from a kayak was quite a treat. By-the-way, a SMACK is the proper name for a big bloom of Jelly Fish.

The Smacks that we saw out on Sitka Sound were much bigger. As you approached them, it looked like what a shallow sand flat looks like in the tropics; a emerald green patch amongst the darker green of the coral bottom. Of course Sitka Sound is very deep so the light patch of green was millions (what it seemed like) of moon Jelly Fish. As you looked down into the mass from the surface it was beautiful. The "smack" could be very near the surface and then drop way down into the depths. The water jets on the tour vessel would cause currents that would push the mass a round and sometimes you could see the mass going down so deep that it would eventually just disappear into the depths. Of course, if you came onto a smack on a very sunshiny day it was the best scenario as the Jelly Fish would reflect the sunlight and its light emerald color would be in stark contract to the darker water around the smack.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Wonder Of The Eagle Ray

This is a photo that I took of an Eagle Ray
while SCUBA Diving at the Blue Hole on Guam.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Wonder of the Octopus

     I worked on Guam from 1989 to 1995 as a Dive Boat captain and a PADI Divemaster and Dive Instructor. One day we were diving Hap's Reef. (named after a long time dive guru on Guam whose name was Hap Chapman, .  .  .  no relation)
At the end of the dive we were preparing to ascend when someone spotted an Octopus.     We all watch it as it jetted around trying to get away and the amazing way they change their color. When interest waned people started to ascend up to the boat. One kid in the military continued to watch the Octopus and when no-one was watching he was able to catch the Octopus. That is when I saw what he was doing and headed over to investigate. As I approached him, he brought the Octopus up towards his mouth and as he did the Octopus enveloped his head with its long, flexible tentacles. The guy panicked as the Octopus suctioned onto his head with hundreds of its suction cups, and tried to pull the Octopus off of his head. As he did the suction of his mask and regulator were not as strong as the Octopuses and he inadvertently pulled his regulator out of his mouth and also pulled his mask off. The rush of cold water onto your face causes one to gasp and panic even more, but luckily, by that time I was close enough to come to his aid immediately.  I thrust my octopus  (another name for a divers spare emergency regulator) toward his mouth through the tangled mass of undulating tentacles that surrounded his head. He, of course, readily accepted the regulator and with a huge blast of exhausted bubbles from his first exhale after breathing from my emergency regulator. I started swimming him to the surface that was luckily only about 23 feet away. The blast of exhausted bubbles scared the Octopus and with one burst of its jet propulsion, away it went, back to a secluded nook in the top of the reef. I had a death grip on the regulator in his mouth with the other hand clenched onto his BC jacket. Not knowing how much water got into his mouth, I was pushing the purge button on the "reg" as we ascended at a slow, controlled rate. I felt him trying to shake me lose but my plan didn't included anything but getting to the surface before unlatching from him. A few feet from the surface I started inflated his BC and we made a smooth transition between depth and surface.
     Once back on the boat I asked him how on earth the Octopus got so close to his head. Of course, still in an embarrassed state from having to be hauled to the surface by the dive guide, he started telling me about how he had learned from a Japanese fisherman in Okinawa how to kill an Octopus by biting it right between the eyes. It was everything I could do, not to call him an idiot and a moron in front of all the other divers on the boat. I did chastise him for thinking that he could kill a marine animal in front of many divers who believe strongly in the preservation of marine life. I told him that what he did out on his own was his own business but when diving as a fare paying customer on a dive boat, destroying marine life was absolutely forbidden. I also told him to think ahead in the future because if someone hadn't been there he could have easily drown.                                  
      Years later, while fishing on a long-line boat in Alaska for Halibut, a huge Octopus had taken one of the baited hooks and as we brought the Octopus to the boat , it suctioned onto the side of the boat and took us 20 minutes of strenuous tugging and prying before we were able to un-stick the Octopus. A friend in a skiff in the area came over and could get down closer to the waterline of the boat in-order to yank and tug the Octopus free. Every time he would get one tentacle free, another would stick onto the boat in its place.
     Another time a friend of mine reached into a crevice on the top of Hap's Reef after an Octopus without first looking into the nook to see what else was in there. When he pulled his hand out, there was no Octopus but he had several of the long, sharp sea urchin spines sticking out off his hand. With-in an hour his hand was swollen up the size of a large grapefruit.  He was in severe pain for quit a few days.
     Another time MDA (Micronesian Divers Association) was doing a REEF-RELIEF clean-up dive along the coast behind INN ON THE BAY.  MDA provided the boat and tanks for volunteers to clean trash out of the ocean. Two guys came to the surface with a huge piece of carpet. As they started pulling it onto the boat, hundreds of baby Octopus about an 1 to 1.5 inches long started pouring out onto the deck of the boat. I halted them and we threw the carpet back into the sea. It had already become a living environment and now belonged to the sea.

While on my mission we came upon this
 Japanese fisherman that was fishing for Octopus. 

He caught one and pulled it up on the dock
and I remember it slithering across the pavement.
It was a beautiful thing!

During our lunch-break, I bought the line,
 hook assembly and bait from a
near-by tackle shop and rigged it up.

I gave it a throw and ended up getting it snagged on the bottom
so I  tried to throw the rig over to another dock
where I could tug on the rig from a different angle.
 It landed in an area that I couldn't easily get to
so I left it there for some lucky fisherman to find. 

This is a photo of a medium sized Octopus that we found while doing the "Discover Scuba"
program for Japanese tourists in Tumon Bay.

This is a smaller Octopus that stuck itself to my dive booty while Beach Diving at Tumon Bay with Japanese toursits..

When I first looked down at my ankle I thought that I had a compound fracture!

Friday, June 27, 2014

My favorite lines from the 1995 movie, "WHITE SQUALL"

Captain Christopher Sheldon:  
  "  .  .  .  . the ship beneath you is not a toy,
and sailing is not a game.
The Albatross will take us far,  gentleman,
but she demands constant attention.
Respect that, and we'll do fine!"

Chuck Gieg:
"  .  .  .  .  in the end it just comes down to one thing;
you can't run from the wind;
you face the music, you trim your sails,
.  .  .  .  and you keep going!".

Inscription on the Ship's Bell:
Where we go one,
we go all!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Monkey Forest

The Chapman Family at the Monkey Forest in Bali, Indonesia

Oh, look how cute the Monkeys are in this Monkey Forest.

Dad:  Ah, Mr. Monkey, up close you're not so cute!
My, you have big, sharp teeth!
Ah, excuse me, that's a little to close.

Big Monkey: Hey Junior, keep him distracted so that
 I can figure out how to get these sunglasses from this idiot!

Look, Dad 's figured it out.
Hold the banana away from your vital organs.

Monkey to Brooke: Hi little girl, your moron Father thinks we actually
want those stupid peanuts and bananas.
We actually want wristwatches, cameras, and sunglasses!
Sometimes we even take a hostage or two.

Brooke: Dad, This monkey is CREEPING me out!
I think it would be advisable to .  .  .  . RUN!

Trevor: (amused)

Cool, even Trevor is getting into the action!

Oh no!  Trevor's wrist watch is gone! 

Monkey: let's see here, if I sneak up from behind, can I grab the little girl and run?

Brooke: Dad, keep your arms around me. These monkeys are creepy!
I don't really like the Monkey Forest after all!
I still think it would be in our best interest .  .  .  to RUN!

Dad: Hey Mr. Monkey, I really need some personal space.
 I don't like you guys so close to my neck and face with those sharp teeth!

Trevor: (calmly amused)

Oh silly Brookie, they are just innocent
little monkeys. Let Mommy show you how it is done! 

There see!  It's fun to feed the monkeys.

Oh, so cute! We LOVE the Monkeys!

 The next day!

Hi Little Monkey friends, it's us again!

Monkeys; Okay, let them warm up to us a
little and then we will move in for the attack!

Trevor: whoa, my Dad is right, they do have sharp teeth!

Denalee: Whoa, these guys get real friendly real fast.

Monkey on Denalee's shoulder to monkey on Denalee's lap: Keep her busy so that I can
decide what I am going to rip off and run away with!
 I can't decide between her pretty ear or her pretty braids!


Monkey on Denalee's shoulder: Okay, these braids will do just fine.
Let me stand up so that I can get some leverage!

Brooke: These Monkeys are really starting to creep me out!
I want OUT OF HERE!!

Denalee: Oh , Brookie! Stand still and smile! Dad is trying
to take a photo of these cute monkeys.

Brooke: I don't care about a stupid photo!
LET .  .  . ME  .  .   . GO!

T-Bird: (posing)

GET .  .  . ME .  .  .   OUTTA  .  .  .  HERE!
Sorry Mom, but I want you between me and these CREEPY MONKEYS!

Denalee: Brad, quit fooling around and get the photo! These monkeys are CREEPY!

(Our friend Grandma Steel comes to Brooke's rescue)

Trevor: (amused)

The End!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Treasures We Found On Guam: 1989 - 1995

Trevor with a pile of brass ejected during the heat of battle.
 We didn't take any of this brass. Didn't want to disturb the  site.