For those following along with my series, I apologize for the delay. Each blog requires me to retype notes, inject a few photos and work on an applicable dive or review video. This can only happen on weekends when I'm not overwhelmed by my day job.
So, let's see where were we?... Ah, yes, I just finished diving Lighthouse, when . . .
Upon returning to Cousteau, I headed down the dock towards the dive shop shower. Below me in the water I noticed a snake with black and white stripes (laticauda or sea krait). For those not knowledgeable about Fiji, or the South Pacific, these small snakes are not numerous (except around Tavarua) and rarely seen, but here it was just cruising around the coral rocks looking for food. I started jumping up and down with excitement, pointing it out so others could see it. The sea krait is a poisonous snake, in fact, its venom is 20X more potent than a king cobra's (sea kraits are distant relatives of cobras).
Johnny Singh, the marine biologist at Cousteau, noticed my antics and came out to take a look. "Oh yeah," he said with a beguiling smile. He took a quick jaunt down the rest of the dock, jumped into the water and grabbed the snake by the tail. Me and the other guests stood aghast at such daring "Crocodile Hunter" antics. "You see," Singh continued, "there are lots of animals in the sea that use camouflage to hide their true nature. What looks like a sea krait is in this instance a snake blenny. Come on over everyone and feel the skin. A sea krait's skin would be scaly, but this is smooth and slimy like a fish." Still hesitant, I touched the fish and felt the slimy protective coating. Oh, don't I feel like an idiot.
After showering and getting all my electronics replugged in for the next morning's dive, I found the day had passed and it was time for appetizers at the Cousteau bar. The bartender, Manoj, began a series of Fijian-themed jokes. Seeing that he had an attentive audience, he kept going. A true comic, this one. After a good 15 minutes, the bar started filling up and I lost my personal entertainer. Reaching over for some poi potato chips I started talking with a gentleman seated next to me who was interested in my underwater housing and lights (he had noticed me walking around the property with them). He seemed really knowledgeable, so I asked him what he did. "Well, I used to film the underwater movies for Jacques Cousteau and now I work with Jean-Michel Cousteau at the Ocean Futures Society. My name is Don Santee." Dumbfounded, I just sat there, jaw open as I looked upon a legend. "I noticed the videos in your camera when you replayed them for Johnny and I am just amazed at the technology. You know, though, that your lights are totally inadequate for getting full technicolor." Having just spent $2,500 on lights I asked him what would be adequate. Maybe another $1,250 light? "Well, 2 humongous lights with huge supplemental batteries strapped around your waist would help. In addition, you should have fellow divers with their own lights that are connected to a generator on the boat above." He smiled, but it wasn't the smile of insincerity - just the sharing of underwater practicalities. I realized after his comment that I am about $100,000 deficient in lights and that I need a corporate sponsor (other than FijiGuide).
Greg came up at this point and asked if I'd like to join him for dinner. (Let me just say from the outset that the meals at Cousteau are extravagant affairs with many, many courses of outrageously delicious gourmet food. Anybody who's ever stayed at Cousteau raves about it.) As I sat down with Greg, Don asked if he could join us. Maybe I'm worthy enough to be in his presence? Probably not, but I took advantage of the situation and plastered him with a million questions. Growing up on the Sunday night series (the "Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau"), this was a real treat.