Sunday, August 13, 2006

Going Deep at the Grotto

I've been nervous about diving the Grotto ever since I earned my Open Water certification back in May. People die there. It is supposed to be one of the most intense SCUBA diving experiences in Saipan. You have to climb down 116 stairs, jump over to a big rock without falling into the waves, jump down six feet to get into the water, and then dive really deep before you can swim out through the underwater channels. I won't even mention the current.

...and that is where Adam and Josh did there first dive EVER. And their second, third, and fourth. That's right, they earned their certifications at the Grotto. How frickin' cool is that?

The underwater cave is a lot larger than it looks from above. You could spend an entire dive exploring the inside of the cave with a flashlight, which is what we did for our 2 dives on Saturday. At its deepest point the Grotto is about 65-70 feet, thus making these my deepest dive to date. On both of those dives we saw 3 small white tip sharks sitting on the bottom, just hanging out. They were each about two feet long. On the second dive there was a five foot long white tip swimming around. He was the biggest shark I've ever swam with. He swam right up to the big rock that people use to get in and out of the water. Holy crap! I've never seen a shark get that close before!

We went outside the cave on our two dives on Sunday. We swam out through the cave on the righthand side and then swam along a wall and reentered the Grotto through the cave on the lefthand side. We were at over 90 feet for a few minutes! Holy crap! We didn't see any sharks, but we swam within 5 feet of a green sea turtle, saw some of the biggest (and tastiest) parrotfish I've ever seen, by far the biggest trigger fish I've ever seen (at least 2 feet long, maybe 3), some tuna, some bluefin trevalies, and many fish that I've never even seen before.

If only I had a speargun! Just kidding.

So the boys are now certified. I finally dove the Grotto. Not a bad weekend, huh?

We made plans with their divemaster to go on a boat dive some time this week. I can't wait.


Deece said...

I've been to the Grotto a million times, seriously - I counted, but I've only been in the water once...For probably less than 15 minutes. But it was way cool. (I can't swim and I'm totally afraid of the ocean. It's absurd, I know.)

I was talking with a few friends, and somehow burning (of trash, paper, or leaves and cut grass) came up. And they feel burning paper-based trash or lawn trimmings are ok. I told them it's not, and if they are trying to dispose of grass and junk, they should just compost. Then they brought up clearing land by burning (which has left a sore spot with me because of recent burns in the area while my young baby was home), and I told them it would be better to just clear it by hand. I really don't know about the real effects of these 'burnings'. What can I tell them?

Saipan Chamoale said...

Done correctly, burnings aren't too bad. They can actually be beneficial. When you burn all that tangantangan, which is in the family Fabacae, a lot of nitrogen is returned to the soil.

But burning can cause something called the hydrophobocity effect, in effect making the soil water proof for about 2 months. It will also kill a lot of the trees that we don't want killed, like our slow growing native canopy trees. These burnings also have a tendency to turn into wildfires. Do I need to tell you why that's bad?

As for burning garbage, it can be good, if it is done in an incinerator and used to generate electricity. Unfortunately we don't have that option in Saipan.