Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  4th of July dive - Dania Beach Aerojacks
Yeah, I'm posting this at 1:30 a.m. I'm at the office because my darn fridge stopped running tonight, right after a trip to the grocery store. So now the soymilk and yogurts are safely tucked into the office refridgerator.

Yesterday morning, I met up with Matt, Andrea, and Alex to do a beach dive in Dania. I haven't ventured far from Commercial Boulevard in the past, so a change is always welcome.

This is Matt's pic of a starfish up close. I think they look very much like alligator teeth.

These aerojacks, I'm told, were placed on the beach during WWII to stop planes from landing. Alex told me they were used in Russia to prevent tanks from invading. They look just like jacks - you know, like kids' toys - except they're, like, four feet tall and made of concrete. The word "aerojacks" didn't click until I got underwater and thought, "Hm, those look just like jacks! Oh, wait!"

They were put underwater in Dania to control beach erosion, I read, and now act as an artificial reef.

Matt's pic of the aerojacks underwater.

Anyway, it was a march out, fully geared up, and then a bit of a swim out after that to get to the site, which is marked by a couple of jacks placed on the beach. I was getting knocked around in the surf - wearing fins in water that suddenly got very shallow, and contrastly not wearing fins in water that was too deep and getting stranded. Matt and Alex came to my rescue, respectively. Matt even held my hand on the swim out, which I appreciated hugely since I'm always falling behind on the swim and was already a bit flustered by the surf-zone beating. See, now, Matt, I've mentioned you. A few times in the last few posts, did you notice? :D

As on the beginning of all dives, we descended and I immediately figured I was going to be disappointed by the dive, that there wouldn't be much to see, etc. And as always, I learned a lesson to not judge a dive by the first two minutes.

Aerojacks underwater. Picture link.

I saw some snooks, which always make me smile, and itty-bitty baby porkfish.. well, juveniles, but that's even cuter than the babies 'cause they are just tiny replicas of the adults.. baby blue tangs.. They were actually hanging out, the tangs and the porkfish, along with some mystery juvenile fish. Some weird little mismatched gang, they were.

I looked up baby tangs for y'all, but this doesn't look anything like what I saw:

Alex tugged at my arm to show me something... which turned out to be starfish! I've always wanted to see a starfish and never have - until this dive, on which I saw lots. They were awesome. I laid in the sand to get a good look at one and, remembering Alex's scoldings not to touch everything, let one of them touch ME instead. It worked. :)

The starfish would hold onto me with these little suckers:

Starfish are neat. They're just so weird they hold onto an air of mystery, no matter how long you stare. And I'm such a big nerd - I really could've just laid on the sand and watched it "walk" ever.. sooo.. slooowly.. for, well, much longer than allowed when you have buddies. This is a great thing about diving! For people who like to observe and admire nature, there's no way you can get closer topside! Underwater, lots of stuff 1) is stationary; 2) is confident in its hiding spot, whether that's a hole or its shell; or 3) goes slow like this. Observe away!

We saw a monstruous porcupinefish. How big was it, I asked Alex, as I'm not too good with anything number-related. "That thing had to be as big as they come." It was really, really huge. Hiding, though.

I saw a tailless.. well, probably some type of snapper. Big whiteish fish with faint yellow markings. It had no tail. It was hiding, wiggling its stump. Alex said it wouldn't survive too long. Maybe it will, I think, as long as it lays low and nothing bigger comes around. And it was pretty big, so we can hope!

I've seen Atlantic Spadefish before, but never up close. There was a school I spotted as I waited for Matt & Andrea to have a power conference underwater (they were talking and everything). I swam over slowly and they just hung out. Next thing I know, I have a few investigating me. They started brushing against my wetsuit like they had been doing to the sand. Then one gave my hand a little kiss, then turned around and looked at me some more. They are very cute fish, especially up close. Very nice. :)

This picture of Atlantic spadefish was taken at the aerojacks dive site, so one of these could very well be my little fishy suitor! Picture link.

All around, another great dive - as usual. Give me some fishies, I'm a happy girl. Give me some fishies that are willing to come close enough to kiss me, I'm even happier. :)

Now, is it wrong of me to want to send these guys hate mail? I really do. "You're a dick." Like, you really needed the ENTIRE SCHOOL?

You know, I'm sorry that this poor fella's dick stopped working ages ago, but that's no reason to take it out on the nice, trusting little spadefish. Grr.

Anyway, we ended up doing over 100 minutes. I started sharing Alex's air on the swim in when I got to 500 psi. The swim in was really cool, too - lots of starfish and other critters to wave at as we passed by.

Ahh, diving. :)

ooh, looks like you had fun! and that "baby tang" thing made me lol.
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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