Diving Around Guam

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I had never gone diving before I moved to Guam. After all, I was never anywhere that diving was a popular hobby. It’s one of the best things to do here though, so I got my dive certification.

(Note: Read about Guam Dive Spots here.)

Anyway, I went through MDA. The class was $200, and involved three nights of videos and two days of practice in the water.

I have nothing but good things to say about MDA. If you are thinking of getting your dive certification, it’s an affordable and professional organization.

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The camera I bought when I got my certification is an Olympus Tough TG-4. It is supposed to be waterproof to 50 feet, but I try not to take it down that deep. On deeper dives, I go without a camera.

Mostly I dive around 25 to 30 feet. The pictures are a little dark and blue, as you can see. You need a flash and a better camera to get good pictures deep down.

However, it serves me extremely well for snorkeling.

me diving retouched

I guess I hit the lottery. I had a blood vessel in my ear burst during my dive class, which is supposed to be extremely rare. My doctor assured me that it was a very uncommon response, and that it would probably never happen again.

However, diving with my friend later, a vessel in my nose burst and my mask began to fill with blood. I had to surface early.

The next time I dove, I also got a bloody nose. This time it was after I surfaced. I was with my husband and he freaked out because I guess there was blood all over my face.

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Eventually I thought about it honestly. A few burst blood vessels doesn’t sound like a big deal if you think about it as something that only happens inside your ear or in your nose. However, I couldn’t help but realize that the next time, it could be in my brain.

That is when I stopped diving.

It’s a shame, because it’s really affordable here. A complete gear rental for two is only around $50. It’s such a good deal…

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I also wish I was better at diving because of the way the fish react to humans snorkeling. They swim away so quickly.

When you are diving, the fish just swim with you as though you are one of them. They never seem frightened, or like they want to flee in fear. It’s so much better!

It’s nice to feel like one of the “in” crowd instead of feeling like a pariah.

 

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The water here is so warm that it feels like getting into a bathtub. That’s one of the wonderful things about being on the equator.

My dive instructor, like most of the guys here, went diving in shorts and a tank. I see the appeal. The water feels lovely on bare skin.

I tend to wear long pants and a long-sleeved rash guard when snorkeling. Jellyfish hang out near the surface of the water and there is also a big risk of sunburn. But diving, it’s nice to wear a little less.

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I have already wrote about the best beaches to dive that have surface entry: Gab Gab, Gun Beach, and Fish Eye.

However, as I have said before, most of the dives are off of a boat. There are a lot of historic sites, such as the sunken WWII ship the Tokai Maru. We also have our own Blue Hole. And there are quite a few reefs where you can see cool marine life.

It really is a great place to scuba dive. I wish my veins were stronger so I felt like I could safely do it more.
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A Swim at Gab Gab

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I have written before about Gab Gab, a reef inside the harbor on the Navy Base. This is juts some pictures from one of my snorkels there, so you can see what it is like.

There are anemones, turtles, schools of fish, and all about a million awesome corals. It’s a beautiful place.

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This is a masked puffer. There are a lot of types of puffer fish here, but I don’t see them as much except in June and July (which seems to be when they are getting friendly with each other.)

The masked puffer is in front of some beautiful hard corals.

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These are soft corals growing on hard corals. The ocean is (for the moment) full of species competing for space.

I like how the soft corals seem to pop up and grow on things like mushrooms.

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There are several sea turtles that are usually seen around Gab Gab. I have looked online a lot, and it seems to me that they are Green Sea Turtles.

Several military spouses and insisted rather vehemently that they are hawksbill turtles. However, I don’t think that is the case.

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Above, you can see a cleaner wrasse eating parasites off two larger fish. One is a standard Parrot Fish, and one is a Rainbow Parrot fish.

Parrot fish have these tiny, silly-looking fins. I have no idea how they move to fast.

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At fist I thought these might be cuddle fish. However, upon more searching online, it looks as though they are reef squid.

I had never seen them at Gab Gab before August of 2017, but it seems that there is an explosion of squid and other invertebrates going on. I am glad, because I love the way they change color.

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Anyway, this is what it looks like swimming along the reef at Gab Gab.

It’s a really amazing experience to swim through these underwater gardens.  I am grateful that I got to see them.

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My YouTube Channel

I started a YouTube channel so I had somewhere to put all the videos that I take.

Above, you can see the view from my patio. I know I am going to miss this view so much when we leave in September! It’s so beautiful.

Most of my videos are from my underwater adventures. However, I try to just put everything I see up.

This is the sunrise as seen from my balcony one morning. They are not usually this good, but it’s never a bad day when you watch the sun rise over the ocean.

Like I said, most of the videos are from being underwater.

For example, this is a video of swimming with a sea turtle. It’s the most relaxing five minutes on the internet.

None of the videos are very long because most interactions with sea creatures happen in the span of a minute or two.

For example, this silly animal is called a Parrot Fish, and it’s hilarious to watch them swim, but they are fast so they usually swim away pretty quickly.

Anyway, you should check out my YouTube Channel and maybe subscribe. It would mean a lot to me to have some subscribers, and besides, you could see some of the amazing things I see!

Thanks for reading, and watching, and just being one of the people that follows my life.

Why is Coral Bleaching?

Gab Gab August 22nd, 2017

In my last post, I talked about the fact that coral around the world is bleaching. Today, I want to talk about why this is happening.

First I need to explain something from Geology.

It’s called the Milankovitch Warming Cycle, and it has been used as a dog whistle in oil company propaganda, as evidence that the current global climate change is “natural.”

Let’s look at the cycle in terms of atmospheric CO2.

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So, what exactly is the Milankovitch Warming Cycle?

Well, it describes the natural oscillation of the global climate since the formation of Earth. The global environment has varied in temperature in a natural cycle over hundreds of millions of years.

The key thing to know is that it happens very slowly.

When I say very slowly, you are probably thinking in human terms. I don’t mean in humans terms. I mean; it moves incredibly slowly in geologic time.

According to the natural cycle of our planet, it should take thousands of years for the temperature to change a fraction of a degree.

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So why does it matter how fast the Earth warms up? Won’t it just cool down as part of a natural cycle and then all the plants and animals will go back to normal?

In a word, no.

To understand why, we have to talk about how organisms evolve. You see, evolution happens when a gene mutates and causes a new trait to appear in a species. If that trait is beneficial, it will help the offspring who have it to outperform their counterparts without it. This helps that trait survive.

It’s easiest to see when we look at specific examples, so let’s have a look at polar bears. There were not always polar bears. But that species came into existence when, during an ice age, a bears’ genes mutated and caused the offspring to be white. The white bear did better than the others because it could hide in the snow, and so it was able to pass on its genes year after year.

Over time, that single genetic mutation became a new species. But again, the key to all of this is that it happens slowly over time.

Now that we understand how slowly the climate is supposed to change and how evolution works, you should be able to see how those two processes have worked together in tandem since the Earth was formed.

In the past, the climate changed slowly, and animals and plants adapted slowly.

Unfortunately, the climate is changing too fast now for any life forms to evolve with it. So when the zooxanthellae inside the coral die, and then the polyps die, that is it for coral.

Some species are hardier than other and so they will die in future bleaching events. However, we do know that all of them will die. The temperature is simply heating up too fast.

Gab Gab August 22nd, 2017

The mass extinction event that we are witnessing is part of The Holocene Extinction.

The oil companies try to tell you is that the Holocene extinction is perfectly natural and couldn’t be helped. This is 100% untrue. Man-made climate change is currently happening because of our use of fossil fuels, and the death of the coral reefs worldwide is absolutely our fault. The body of evidence is overwhelming. Science has no doubt on the matter.

And so, the answer to the question of “Why is the coral dying?” is really very simple.

The answer is us.

Gab Gab August 22nd, 2017

Missing Turtle

Larry

For more than a year there was a turtle living at Fish Eye Marine Park. He ate the food that they threw in the water for the fish, and visited with the tourists. Some people called him “Larry,” and other people called him “Crush.”

I don’t know what he called himself.

However, he had a small metal tag under each front flipper. One said NOAA Maui USA, and the other said PI2775. He was a green sea turtle who was approximately 50 years of age, and he had a girl turtle in the Piti Bomb Holes near by that he seemed to visit with.

In Mid-July, the tour operators at Fish Eye watched as people from the Department of Agriculture came and took Larry the turtle away.

They said they were taking him “to study,” according to the tour operators.

However, when we called the Department of Agriculture, they  claimed that the turtle “was a nuisance” and so as moved “to the other side of the island.”

Now of course, this was not his first time being caught on Guam. The Marine Biologists at Underwater World took him for study. They weighed him, measured him, and then released him on the other side of the island.

He swam right back, because he enjoys people and food.

However, after the Department of Agriculture claims to have taken him “to the other side of the island,” he did not swim back.

He was a very strong swimmer, and you can be sure that he was capable. How can you be sure, you ask? Well, the people at Underwater World were actually hoping that they could find some evidence that his rear flipper (which was damaged) made it too difficult for him to be in the wild.

They hoped this because they have a rescued sea turtle in the aquarium already, and they hoped for a second.

However, according to the laws governing the treatment of an endangered species, if they are found to be able to survive on their own, they cannot be “rescued.”

Ergo, we know that if the turtle had actually been released by the Department of Agriculture, he would have swam back as he had done before.

We cannot make conclusions from the information that we have. However, we can know two things for sure.

1. Turtle meat fetches a high price on Guam and on the other islands in the chain, because the Native people eat turtle. They know that these turtles are endangered, but some choose to do it anyway. Anyone who took the turtle to sell would have made a LOT of money.

2. They were very suspicious on the phone and asked for my husband’s full name and information before claiming that the turtle was moved. If they are keeping track of who is asking, then one would suggest that they have a reason to be worried.

I am not saying that the Department of Agriculture sold the turtle. However, I am saying without a doubt that they were the last people to have him, and that in two months, he has still not been sighted anywhere else.

If they did not sell him, then their choice to move him certainly seems to have brought about his untimely demise, leaving his girlfriend single and removing his genes from the species.

Furthermore, I spoke with several tour operators who said the initial complaint against the turtle was falsified.

They claim that he was good for business and made the tourists happy and that they would never have done anything that led to his removal.

It is certainly suspicious.

I hope that there will be an investigation, since selling an endangered species for profit is obviously illegal. However, given the diminished funding of the EPA, I worry that justice will not be served.

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Side Note:

I have also not seen the female turtle who was hanging around the Piti Bomb Holes near Fish Eye. However, I am not sure that not seeing her is significant. Green Sea Turtles are not social, and it is possible that she was just around to “visit” a boy turtle for a bit.

This is what she looked like:

girlfriend

If you look, you can see that you doesn’t have a tail that extends past her shell, or claws on her flippers. Only males have those traits (which is actually to hold onto the female’s shell.)

She was a little smaller than the male turtle, but they seemed similar in size and age.

girlfriend two

Anyway:

The point of this post is that if anyone has any information about the green sea turtle lovingly called “Larry” or “Crush” who used to live at Fish Eye Marine Park, please let me know.

Thank you.

Tanguisson Bleaching 5/10/17

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This album is from May of 2017.

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This is just some of the coral beaching that I have seen around Guam.

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I am trying to let NOAA and UOG know.

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It won’t help solve the problem, but it will help document what is happening.

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Maybe I find documenting it comforting because at least I am doing something.

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It’s not a something that fixes anything, but it’s something.

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If you know anyone in Marine Biology, make sure to pass this information along to them.

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Coral Bleaching at Gab Gab 9/2/17

Healthy coral has color to it. In the picture above, you can see healthy coral thriving at Gab Gab reef on May 2nd, 2017. This is what it is supposed to look like.

Unfortunately, the coral around the world is dying, and I want to talk about it for a moment.

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Coral is made up of many tiny animals called Polyps.

These little animals have specialized chloroplast cells inside called zooxanthellae. These chloroplasts absorb sunlight and convert it to food for the polyp. Without them, a polyp will die.

When the water temperature in an area gets too hot, the zooxanthellae stop being able to work. They are sensitive to temperature, and so they die.

When they die and the polyp pushes them out, the coral becomes white (since polyps have no color.) Eventually, the polyps die and the coral becomes nothing more than skeletons covered in algae.

 

The reefs on Guam are bleaching. This is part of a worldwide event, which is being driven by climate change.

I wanted to share these pictures and videos in an effort to draw attention to the fact that this is happening, and how awful it is.

These pictures are taken at Gab Gab, just like the one at the top of the page. The difference is only a few months, but the difference in the temperature in the water is extremely noticeable.

Before, it used to be a little chilly when you first got in. Gab Gab is a reef that goes from the surface water level down more than one hundred feet. Deeper water, in my experience, tends to be colder.

And yet, yesterday when I got in the water, it was hot.

I beg you all to take a very close look.

I think a lot of people who have never been snorkeling or diving are able to easily ignore the bleaching of the corals and the dying of the reefs.

For me, living here, it is much harder.

Coral are home to thousands of species of animals, and as they die, those animals will also die.

The diversity of life that we had in our oceans was amazing, and losing it is absolutely horrifying.

I have no words beautiful enough or sad enough to write the eulogy for our oceans. Nothing said or written could capture how beautiful this reef was just a few months ago.

Seeing the reef now as it bleaches and dies is one of the most painful things I have ever seen.