Member’s Night: Thailand, Cambodia, Monterey and Galapagos

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by Gayle Hudson

At Member’s Night in August, we were treated to three presentations from Ruth Chofree, Rik Cederstrom and Matt Warren.

Ruth has written a summary of her presentation, which follows my summary of presentations from Rik and Matt.

Rik Cederstrom

Rik’s presentation was from his trip to Thailand and Cambodia on islands located in the Gulf of Thailand. Some of the islands where he dove were James Bond Island (named for the location of one of the films) and Koh Trangol where we saw his photos of Christmas tree worms, a swimming Crinoid, stingray, glass shrimp, crown of thorns, baby octopus, seahorse, pufferfish, lionfish (in their native habitat where they belong), swimming flatworms and a Tridacna clam. A beautiful video of a whale shark showed the ecosystem of remoras and pilot fish that travel with the shark.

Rik showed us some photos that clearly show the need for eco-tourism in Cambodia. A beach was covered with plastic debris, a reef was bare due to dynamite fishing (Rik felt one of the explosions underwater!) and fishing nets and traps were abandoned after getting hung up on reefs. Rik told us of a sad story that occurred the week before he arrived. A large whale shark was photographed by divers and posted to a website. A couple of days later, the local newspaper posted pics of a dead whale shark in the local fish market. The fins had already been removed and sold and the rest of the carcass was cut up and sold by the next day. The dive shop called the market on the illegal practice but was told the shark was dead when they found it. Rik said the best way to deal with a problem is international publicity and tourist/eco-dollars. Rik said, despite these problems, the area is a great place to dive and the local residents understand the money spent on viewing marine life. Doing so will help to improve the situation and convince more Cambodians to get on the ‘eco-train.’

Rik called his trip an adventure of a lifetime, a combination of great diving, marine life encounters, and political/environmental awareness.

Matt Warren

Matt presented a video entitled “385 – The Ride,” which was filmed at San Carlos Beach and featured his music, “It’s About the Ride.” It opened with barnacles feeding but they appeared to be waving in time to Matt’s music! The footage moved to the kelp forest, with a school of Senoritas, a sea cucumber feeding and a pair of harbor seals interacting, one of which came very close to Matt’s camera.

Ruth Chofree

Ruth presented her beautiful photos from Galapagos and wrote this summary of her adventure:

In August of 2006, I joined 11 other underwater photographers for a most exciting two-week dive adventure, led by Steve Rosenberg,  to explore the Galapagos Islands…both above and below the waters.  Steve not only had been diving the Galapagos since 1994 but wrote the book on it as well, entitled ‘Dive Galapagos.’

Our boat, Deep Blue, was built in 2004 and was our dive liveaboard.  It had nine modern cabins, a spacious interior and outside space for relaxation and dive gear preparation. Our experienced crew of ten welcomed us aboard and showed us the best of the Galapagos, both underwater and on land. Antonio, especially, was our schooled, knowledgeable, and experienced divemaster.

On day one we left San Cristóbal Island for Isla Lobos where we did a gear check and from there we dove off Espanola Island, and on to North Seymour Island, with both dive and land tours.  Day four through eight we dove off Wolf and Darwin Islands, which were filled with Galapagos sharks, eagle rays, silkies, “gangs” of schooling barberfish, king angels cleaning hammerheads, free-swimming eels, huge turtles, whale sharks, and snorkeling with the dolphins!  Even SINGING dolphins! Plus bonitas, tuna and, did I mention, MORE whale sharks?! We dove the “amphitheater” of Darwin Island, where we swam down the sand slide, as Steve called it, and watched hundreds of hammerheads pass by.

Day nine we moved over to Isabela Island (the East Coast) and did both dive and land tours filled with birthing frigates, blue-footed boobies, hundreds of iguanas, and many other Galapagos residents.

We moved on to the Gordon Rocks dive, South Plaza Island land tour, Santa Cruz Island dive and another land tour, winding up the next day at San Cristobal, where we were almost too exhausted to dress and go to our wrap-up dinner back in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Diving the Galapagos Islands is not for the faint of heart, for one must prep mightily before leaving, maintain cameras and gear almost hourly, and not require too much sleep time.  Just glancing over my copious notes, I’d written that going on a two-weeks Galapagos dive trip was not for one of low energy, for peeling off my 7/5mm wet suit, fins, gloves, and hood several times a day (on bouncing seas) to go on a land trip took heaps of energy.  And then, there were the hundreds of pictures to be downloaded and backed up.

This was truly one of THE most exciting and rewarding dive trips ever; however, ten years later, I still haven’t put together a “formal” Pro Show Gold show.

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