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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Diving, Titan Bima Bay, Sumbawa, Friday, 08 July 2011 11:57pm

So picture this...

The Titan Triggerfish is the largest species of Triggerfish, growing up to 75 centimeters long and possessing a jaw capable of crunching through hard coral. There I am, slowly making my way up to the surface after running low on air around 70 ft below. We've been "muck diving" in a silty area, so the visibility is the worst we've had the whole trip. Murky beyond 10 feet away and impenetrable at 30 feet. There was an outcrop at about 35 feet below the surface. I slowly swam up past it.

Suddenly, there was a massive fish charging straight at my face! I took a swing at it with my dive light and got it to veer off. I flipped my legs towards the fish and gave a few good kicks to get some distance. I'd been warned that Titans consider their territory to be a cone emanating upwards from their nest, so I couldn't go up, I had to establish enough distance by moving sideways. Going up would be a bad idea anyway, since rapid ascents are a risk for decompression injuries and I was near the depth at which I'd need to do a safety stop before continuing my ascent.

The fish came back for a second pass, but I was moving fast enough to avoid it and got far enough away that it didn't try a third. Luckily too, as it turns out that this fish had bitten two other divers from our group earlier on. They'd been protected by their thick wetsuits, but I was only wearing a 2 mm "shorty", which stops above the elbows and knees.

The other dives today were good, if less dramatic. I'm getting better at spotting. I found a big seahorse hiding in a soft coral, a well-camouflaged little cuttlefish also hiding in a soft coral, and some boxer shrimp under a sponge. Highlights among the things Divemaster Ali showed me were a coconut octopus, a juvenile Emperor Angelfish with a cool blue on black ring pattern, many large nudibranchs, some of them with Imperator Comensal Shrimp riding them, and a Delicate Ghost Pipefish. There were also a lot of jellyfish near the surface. I got to see some with more internal structure than the simple comb jellies I've seen here and in Honduras. Some of them had the mushroomy pulsing shape that you think of when you think of jellyfish, and one even trailed red tentacles. I stayed well clear of that one, since those are probably stingers. Even so, I got plenty of tiny stings on all of my exposed areas.

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