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Tuesday
Mar162010

Near-death Lobster Encounter

Location: Tintamarre Island, St. Martin

Today was my fourth day of diving here in St. Martin with Octopus Diving. While it was brutal to drag my ass out of bed at the crack of dawn - far earlier than the leisurely mornings we've been having - as usual, this dive did not disappoint. 

Our first morning dive was back to Circus, where there are several fun caves to explore. Whereas normally the ride to Tintamarre can be nausea-inducing (even in their speedy catamaran), this morning the water was so placid, it was like riding on a calm, serene lake. The visibility when we hit the water was phenomenal (as predicted last week by some magic website the Octopus guys use - wish I could remember the name!). Even while we were hovering next to the boat waiting to descend, we could clearly see a stingray 40 feet below us. This is the place I went on my first dive, but since I was busy having a panic attack that first day, I didn't mind actually getting to enjoy it. 

The first half an hour or so, we could see forever, but there wasn't actually that much going on. I was surprised because we usually see tons of lobster at least. So, when I finally found a lobster hiding in a crevasse, I was very proud and excited, and motioned to Sally to check it out. There I was, proudly angling for a good photo of MY shy little lobster, when I felt a tug on my fin. I turned around to see - Holy Crap! - the biggest lobster I've seen yet. This thing must have been 50 lbs. Even more remarkable, it wasn't hiding, it was sitting right out on the sand - probably because it was bigger than anything else for a mile around. And I must have gone right past it, intent on my little hidden guy. Doh!

 

We then went through one of the many caves around that area - very cool - where there was another large lobster. While it was nowhere close to the size of the other one, it was still a critter of some length and density. I was the last one through the cave, and as I paused to take a picture, that lobster must have decided he was fed up. Must have decided it was time to avenge his brethren whom I have been so happily consuming. Because that lobster rose up, waved his tentacles wildly, looked me dead in the eye - I kid you not - and started coming at me! In retrospect, I'm fairly sure he couldn't have done much damage, but let me tell you, I kicked so hard through that tunnel I got a charlie horse in my calf. Fairly sure I used up half my tank of air getting the @!@# out of there. 

After my near-death experience at the tentacles of a lobster (what a way to go, right?), our second dive was to the Tugboat wreck. Even though Tugboat is exactly that - a small tugboat - I was thrilled to finally do this dive since I've never been near a wreck before. It was fantastic. I did manage to wriggle myself inside, though in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have given my lack of grace or spatial awareness. I knocked around a bit trying to get out (though luckily nothing was chasing me this time, at least not to my knowledge - should have done a crazy ivan). Regardless, I love the pictures I managed to get of the wreck and its denizens - the visibility made today the perfect day for it. 

Tomorrow I'm flying over to St. Barth's for a one-day shopping extravaganza... it could get ugly. 

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