Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day at the beach

The day after Yael's birthday was a nice sunny day. So we decided to swing by the beach (Hof HaTzuk) before visiting her parents. Roy and me (and also Yael) played a bit with photography.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick visit to Paris

Due to a work visit I had spent two days in Paris. Of these one and half was in long meetings, but I did get few hours in the morning of the first day to wonder around. I ended up going to the Notre Dame and climbing the towers. Few pictures....

Views of Notre Dame

Cheese shop on Ile de France

Jeanne d'Arc Statue

Notre Dame from within

Detail of Front Facade

Views from above

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Coming back home around 8pm, I find Yael and the kids. I drag all the equipment inside. And when I go to the kitchen to put something down, I find that they decorated the whole room.

They prepared an octopus cake, and we had a small b-day celebration.


Last day in Eilat

The night before we went out to celebrate my birthday and ERC grant, and so we didn't manage to squeeze in a night dive.

On our last day I started with a dive with Efrat. We decided to go to an area called Paradise that is beyond the Sateel. We went down to the Sateel and the water was full of dive instructors and their trainees. We got to the Sateel, and just before it I found this lovely star.

We continued past the wreck to the area beyond it. This is a relatively flat land-scape with many corals. For some reason we see very few fish in it, although it is lush with corals and hiding places. I do see many small fish as well as cleaners.

Although we are far from the wreck and can't see it. we keep hearing various noises, and in particular the shakers instructors use to get attentions of their group.

Returning through the wreck we stop on the deck to watch the view.

And get a nice glimpse of the command structure covered with soft corals (and various memorial placks).

On the next dive I went with Matan. He decided he also wants to explore next to the Sateel, but this time north of it.

Going down I finally got a good shot of a cleaner shrimp on a sea anemone.

After a while we run across a heavy chain. We follow it and find a anchor thrown on the sand. Apparently a ship above us throw an anchor and the chain that dangled from it broke all kind of corals (we reported this to the authorities when we came out).

On the way back we find various small creatures.

And thats the end of a week in Eilat. We pack up, call home, and start driving back to Jerusalem.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dive with Spooky

After the morning dive, Matan didn't feel that well and went to sleep. After a while Spoky came by and asked whether I would be interested in joining him for a dive.
We started by diving next to a bouey and I took picture of one of the knots on the line that is fraying.

From there we went south and deeper and visited the gorgonia in the coral reserve (around 30m).

On the way back up we found various sea anemone

We got to Sela Moshe, which as usual was swarming with life. I tried to get a sense of some of the texture one can find there.

Finally, we returned along the reef of the reserve. Under one of the bridges that allow snorklers to pass the reef there was a school of trumpet fish. By waiting patiently I managed to get one of them in a decent portrait.

Friday, October 10, 2008


This morning we planned to go visit Marco. Marco is a young male dolphin that apparently lost his mother at some stage and lives in an area close to the north part of the bay (near the hotels). I already dove once with him and it was a special dive. This time we went with several people who didn't see him before.

Since he is a wild animal, we can't plan to see him. But usually he really likes divers company and if he sense us he comes over to see what we are doing. The place he usually hangs out is around a beach where there are various speed boats coming and going. As such it is not the best place to dive. For this reason we decided to go in early when there is little or no boat activity.

Again, woke up at 6am. Waked matan by phone and together with Avi we headed to the parking north of Meridian hotel. In this beach there is a restaurant that is built like an underwater observatory, and so you can sit below sea level when you eat your fish. The area around it a sandy bottom with little growth, although they have artificial reef around the restaurant windows.

We went into the water, Matan, Avi, Kineret, Inbal (Arnon's wife, not Spoky's fiance), Elena, and her nephew Aviva). As we stepped into water I walked over a sea urchin. Luckily (for me) the soles of my shows are pretty hard, and so I got stung only on the side of the foot by two or three needles. I pulled these out and hoped the pain will subside.

We got our gear on and went under water. As we were going around the structure of the restaurant, Marco showed up! Elena who knew the drill apparently, put her hand into the sand as though she found something there and Marco immediately came to investigate with his nose and sonar what is hiding there (turns out that this a common behavior for dolphins).

For the next half hour or so Marco would play with us. He would come to one of us to see what we are doing or just to check us out. After few minutes he would go upwards to the water surface and then return.

He seems to enjoy the company and in few cases tried to convince us to touch him (a big no no in this interaction).

Near where we played with him there was a structure on which various corals were seeded (apparently for installation next to the restaurant once they grow). Kinneret found there a large croc fish and a pijama nudi-branch and so I photographed them.

Later I found out that while I was doing this Marco came along to investigate what I was doing.

After about 45 minutes we came out of the water. I totally forgot about the sea urchin incident, so apparently it wasn't that serious. We got our gear off and into the cars and went back to the hotel. Since this was Avi's last dive we planned to move our gear from his car to Matan's. And so
he parked next to Matan's car and we started taking the gear off, disassembling it and putting it into its boxes. When I finished I did a round to check for equipment and went to search for my camera where I usually put it (next to where Avi keeps it in the trunk of his car). It wasn't there. I thought maybe Avi and Matan moved it to Matan's car, and so asked them, and they said they didn't see it.

I started thinking where did I last see the camera, and then recalled that upon getting to the car I put it on the roof so that I don't drop any equipment on it while taking it off. I look to the roof, and I find the camera hooked onto a structure that serves for putting roof rails... Luckily for me it didn't fall in the drive (more than 2km) from Meridian to our hotel...

Satteel (two dives)

After breakfast and some rest, we decided to go for another dive. The plan was to join with Inbal and Spoky and Matan. Once again Avi O joined us, and took the equipment with his van to the sateel (5 min walk, but still...)

Unlike usual days when the place is crawling with divers, most of them in courses learning how to dive, in this dive we had the place to ourselves.

Two minutes into the dive Matan showed up behind me and crowned me with a Zer that he made for me on occassion of my b-day. Here is a not-so-great picture of what it looks like.

The thing actually hurt my scratches from the day before, and so after few minutes I moved it to a clips over my shoulder.

We got to the ship wreck and started exploring its insides. Avi and I got into the forward chamber where there is a large school of cave fish that live there. I tried to capture them with partial success.

From there we moved to explore other parts of the wreck, and got to see some of the usual residents.

From the insides of the wreck we moved to the deck and then to the upper control tower. I spotted a frogfish but his face was turned away and it was impossible to take a proper picture of it.

When Avi and I noticed our air was down to low levels (50-70 bar) we decided to stop shooting pictures and move on. We found Inbal and Spoky playing games in the water (turns out later they lost a knife) and Matan meditating in a lotus position. He tried to swim back in this position which looked awkward. After few minutes he managed to strain his shoulder muscles and so I had to watch out for him.

We got back to land safe and happy.

We spent the late afternoon talking with people next to the poole. Once the hag was over we all wanted to eat, and the young kids were starting to demand attantion. It took a while but eventually we managed to reserve a place in a resturant and Efrat, Matan, Maya, Inbal, Spoky and me had a nice dinner, although Maya tired out in the middle, and so Efrat took her back to the hotel.

The plan was to do a night dive after the dinner. Matan didn't feel up to it, and neither did Spoky and and Inbal. Since we also coordinated with Avi and Michael (Manta Ray), I said that I will go with them. I called Avi, and found out that Michael also bailed out. And so Avi and me went alone for a night dive.

We decided to try the Sateel again at night. We got there and the plan was to get in without lights and see if we can spot the small fish that use bioiluminscensce.

As usual it is amazing how much you can see underwater once you get your night vision. We found the wreck without a problem (a huge dark shadow in the water). Once there we turned on the light and got inside to the forward nose chamber. This chamber is totally closed except for the door, and so once we turned off the light it was pitch dark. The idea was to wait for few minutes to see if the shy fish will come out from hiding. Waiting these few minutes in a totally dark room while floating in the water (knowning that various beams of metal are around me, was actually quite hard. I had to concentrate to calm down my breathing and pay attention to my surrounding. To our disappointment we didn't see anything.

After few minutes we turned on the lights and moved into a small room off the engine room (passing two doors to get there). Being smarter now, I choose a place where I can hang on to a metal rail, and so I had a point of reference when I turned off the light. After a minute or so of wait I started seeing small glowing objects moving in the inside of the room. At this stage it wasn't clear whether I was imagining or not, but as they moved closer it was clear it was a fish. These fish have two sacks that light up at night (I guess symbiosis with bacteria). These sacks are on either side of the fish, below the eyes, and resemble a bit the shape of an eye of an evil cartoon cat (glowing yellow eyes).

When we got tired of staying there we moved up to the deck and then to the back cargo bay. This bay is open from above, so we slowly descended into it. Once below the deck level we could see the glowing fish in different corners of the bay. There wasn't a large school, but rather individual fishes going back and forth. In the second cargo bay we also saw them, and then we looked up we saw points of lights moving in and out of the command structure (like ghosts). Turns out that the whole ship (except the front room where we started) is full of these glowing fish.

After half an hour of dive, we started heading back. Again we did this in the dark using campass to show the direction of the shore. In the end I didn't use the camera at all in this dive (except for one picture that didn't come out well) and barely used our lights. Nonetheless it was a very special and magical dive.