In 2011 I went diving with the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. In 2012 they did not come back. In a spirit of cargo cults and magical thinking, we’re going to have a week or so of cuttlefish: perhaps, if we wish hard enough, a critical concentration of photo and video will bring them back from wherever they have gone.
I had more fun underwater than I had when i went diving with Dr Tabubil- which is saying something because that first time I was bouncing off of walls for a week on the memory of it.
That first time, I was entirely under the control of Tony the dive master. He held my hand as we stood against a stuff current, and as well, my buoyancy was out of kilter - I was either heading for the roof or bouncing across the sea-urchins on the bottom. This second time, I was rather more on my own -
One of the Melbourne ladies had her open water certification - she was buddied with one instructor, and the other two of us were buddied up with the other. My tourist-buddy had a problematic dive-vest - an air bubble on one side sent her tumbling in counter-clockwise barrel rolls and I was waved off to join the big kids while our instructor returned her to an even keel. In water as clear and as still as this it was rather like sitting at the bottom of a 10 foot swimming pool so therewas no danger, and without anyone's hands on my own, I started to find the hang of things, and learned to float -
And I dug it. I really dug it. I'm an original tropical water-baby, and it felt just the way swimming underwater should be - without needing to come up for breath, or being tied to the surface with a snorkel. Just me and the water - the way it should be, all comfy-like and giving.
To a point. Swaddled in neoprene, weighed down by lead shot, breathing through straws out of a glorified great soda-siphon strapped to my back, I didn't belong half as well as the cuttlefish all around me.
Look at this one - see him fly:
They were all around me - for every cuttlefish that I saw, if I paid attention and looked a little harder, noticed there at least two more - hiding in the weeds. When one emerged from under a rock, two or three would be tucked in there behind.
The females seemed to be shyer than the males - these photos invariably show a male in technicolor display shadowing a female in her reddest 'I am NOT happy' drag:
This particular instance is a little different. Here the male is in full furious panoply, and the female is playing it soft and quiet and blending into the scenery. Check in with us next time to find out why!