Laura Harron, our Guest Blogger based in New Zealand, gives us the next update on her week working as dive guide:
Today I am crewing on the boat as a dive guide. The weather has finally settled and we are treated to flat seas and sunshine for the next few days. I normally try my best to avoid talking about the weather like a granny, however when your work is entirely affected by the weather it tends to work its way into most conversations. Trying to convince people to move and get into dive equipment when they feel sea sick and want to die is a mission. Today the sea is so flat I want to kiss it after the wind we have had early in the season. Diving is so easy in these conditions.
After the morning intro and boat briefing we have a good chat with everyone on the way out about their previous diving and what they would like out of the day. We are only 10 minutes out of the harbor before someone squeals ‘Dolphins!’ Everything comes to halt and we open the hatch to allow our divers to rush out to the bow and make noises at the bottlenose dolphins surfing the wake of the boat. Instantly we have a boat full of happy customers, the rest of the day is going to be easy.
Day off. I see from Dive! Tutukaka’s facebook page that one of the instructors on our boats saw a manta ray at the islands, what a treat! I’m stuck doing paperwork instead of seeing a manta. Ugh.
Weather is still magic, and I have another day crewing on the boat. The temperature of the water is now a balmy 21 degrees, so I have finally had to give in to the abuse of my fellow instructors about being soft and having to get out of my drysuit.
We are diving at a site called ‘Trevor’s Rocks’, a house favourite due to its array of depth, and three pinnacles with resident morays and large scorpion fish. Diving here is normally sheltered and relaxed as there is very rarely current, and the sheer volume of marine life distracts any novice nerves. As we are cruising around one of the pinnacles I spot an unusual colour. On further inspection I see it is a nudibranch that I have never seen before, I call over one of the other crew members to point out my new find. I hear his ‘oohhhs’ through his reg and I know he hasn’t seen it before either. When I surface with my divers I grab a boat camera and return to take a picture. After a facebook post and several enquiries back at the dive shop we find out it is a cadlinella ornatissima last seen at the islands in 2001. It originated from Southeastern Australia so it’s pretty cool to see it here.
I start an eLearning Open Water Diver course. After our quick review we head into town to knock out our confined session in the pool. Both girls are very comfortable in the water so we have a fluid session and complete our skills in time to have a few underwater rolly polly competitions before we leave.
Beautiful morning, clear skies. We get our equipment together and head onto the boat. I brief the girls on what the day will involve and answer any questions the have about the dives ahead. A few miles out of the harbor, trouble strikes. One of my students pales and ask for a sick bag, thankfully we have mountains of bags for these occasions. At the islands I begin my ‘If you get in the water you will feel better approach’ and reluctantly Alex moves to the back of the boat. After a 5 minute swim the colour returns to her face and we can proceed with the training.
It’s a difficult day for Alex, we get through what we need to do with several anti-nausea swim breaks in between. On our way home we spot a large pod of common dolphins, this is enough to curb anyone’s nausea. They display several leaps close to the boat for photo opportunities, and I laugh at how effective cetacean encounters can be for sea sickness.
I buy Alex a bacon sandwich when we get back to shore for a de-brief.
Today Alex has some diver friendly sea sickness medication that the doctor has prescribed for her so we should get through the day and training with ease.We do two beautiful dives, and have encounters with free swimming morays and enormous snapper. With the bloom of krill the snapper are congregating in the masses, it really is such a treat to see these large predators in such big numbers. One of the reasons why the encrusting life is so magnificent at the islands is because the snapper keep the urchin populations under control. On the mainland, the urchin populations explode and strip a lot of the reef of its encrusting life. It’s a good example of how important marine reserves are in keeping the balance of all marine life.
Day off. Sun’s out. There I go talking about the weather again.
Laura Harron, 29, originally hails from Ireland and has previously worked in Malta and Tonga before moving to New Zealand. She is now based Poor Knight Islands with Dive! Tutukaka.