Diving Yap Island with Valerie
This really isn’t Valerie, at least not this time. I am writing for her as I have tried a number of times to get her to do a blog of her dives but to no avail. Maybe if I start, she will get into the mood and the hang of it. Like all fathers, I am very proud of her and it’s quite nice to see her as a new dive guide and listen to her stories of her underwater adventures. Today was a great one that I was lucky enough to be on so here’s the story.
We have a group of very close friends with us for the next two weeks. There are the Wills of Palm Grove Hotel fame in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Tom and Shirley are here with their daughter Robyn and their granddaughter Rireana (who will celebrate her 13th birthday next Tuesday) and Paul & Pat Kilroy from just outside London, England. Val and I were their dive guides today and the first dive was at Peleak Corner where we were greeted by the usual outer reef visibility of over 200 feet and a gentle current to carry us along. Val gave the briefing and told everyone that we would be diving around the middle of the wall, or about 50 to 60 feet deep, and that we would be looking out for turtles, nudibranches and stingrays. I knew that we often see cuttlefish at about 80 feet but I didn’t interrupt her briefing.
As we entered the water, sure enough we all saw the first stingray of the day directly under the boat. As we drifted along, I began going a bit deeper and a bit deeper until I was cruising along at 80 feet and looking at the various sleeping whitetip sharks on the sandy bottom at 140 feet. All of a sudden, Valerie is shaking her rattle and pointing behind me. I had drifted right over a cuttlefish (the thing that I was down here looking for – thank goodness for young eyes). As I turned to go back and watch this marvelous creature, another one came to join us. We now had a circle of 8 divers all watching 2 cuttlefish change colors and move around when all of a sudden, we were joined by a THIRD cuttlefish. This was spectacular in itself but one of the animals went into a show of aggression and really changed colors, elongated its tentacles and chased after each of the other two. I could have stayed there the entire dive but alas we needed to move on.
After another few minutes of drifting along this spectacularly healthy hard coral wall, we came upon a small turtle sitting down and enjoying the view. Just past him, we came upon a school of over 20 large Humphead Wrasse all “grazing” along the top of the reef.
All in all, a wonderful dive, with a great group of friends and in the company of the newest member of the Yap Divers team – my daughter Valerie Acker Sullivan!