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Whale Sharks In Utila – Failed Excursion and the PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Whale Sharks In Utila - Failed Excursion and the PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Yesterday we missed out on the whale shark excursion due to a hangover. Evidently we really missed out since they saw 8 whale sharks.  Today we started our PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course. You can pick 5 "specialties".  We chose Deep, Navigation, Night, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and Wreck.   We did two dives this morning, and the whale shark excursion in the afternoon. The first dive we did today was the Deep Dive. 100 feet! In the Open Water class we were only allowed to go to 60 feet. We went to a place called Black Coral Wall, and went down to 31 meters which is over 100 feet. It was a lot darker and bluer than 20 meters and above.



Advanced Open Water Dives

Whale Sharks In Utila
Whale Sharks In Utila
Whale Sharks In Utila

Deep Diving

The dangerous thing about deep water diving is that the air in your lungs are 4 times more dense than at sea level. This causes some increase in nitrogen in the blood that then goes to tissues after you surface. Myself nor shelly got "Narc'd", which is much like inhaling nitrous oxide. This happened to a couple people with us but nothing major. We had to spell our names backwards underwater, and only a couple couldn't do it. We took a bottle of Coca Cola (empty) with us. It was full of air, and when we got to 100 feet the bottle was completely crushed. We filled it half with water and a little air on the bottom and then when we surfaced, the coke bottle was engorged and about to burst. They say the same thing can happen with your lungs, so you must breathe consistently or you can have lung expansion... not a good thing. We also cracked an egg down there, and the yoke stayed in tact. We ping-ponged it back and forth (the equivalent of hot potato) and the yoke didn't break. Really cool. Then a fish came over and ate it. The color red that deep is nearly non-existent. Blue wave spectrums show up, but red , yellows and greens don't. The yellows showed as tan, and the reds as brown. It was really interesting.

Navigation Diving

We did a navigation dive, which is a dive we do in a buddy system where we get together and use a compass to find our way back to the boat. That was ok, but rather boring really. Don't know when I will ever need this, but its part of the course.  I guess it would be useful for low visibility diving in a lake or murky water, however I don't really want to dive in these conditions.  This is a required portion of the course along with peak performance buoyancy so we did it anyway and learned how to use a compass underwater.  We did it on the dock before heading to the water to do it, which was helpful.  Our Instructor is great and teaches us in and easy way.

Peak Performance Buoyancy

This section of the Advanced Open Water is essential.  It teaches you how to use your lungs and trim(straight body position) in the water to maintain buoyancy.  We went down to a nice sandy patch and they brought some PVC hoops and some weights.  We did some exercises and hovering techniques in the water with our Instructor Nick and his DMT (dive master trainee) Simen.  We then had an obstacle course through the PVC hoops.  We went through normally, then upside down and backwards using only our breath to rise and fall.  It was great practice and something clicked for both of us.  The main secret to good buoyancy is to use our lungs not our vest for air.  Nick also put some weights on the floor of the ocean and we had do descend on top of them and knock them over with our noses.  This was a lot tougher, however a lot of fun!  It was a great class and one of our favorites for learning how to be better divers.



Whale Shark Excursion

Whale Sharks In Utila
Whale Sharks In Utila
Whale Sharks In Utila

Whale Shark Excursion

In the afternoon we went on the whale shark excursion. We had to go to deeper water on the other side of the island and we were hopeful to see a whale shark as they saw 8 the day before.

We arrived on the dock, and the boat were booked on, was broken so two other boats were going to go. One slow and one fast. We got put on the slow boat. We took off from the dock and rolled through the bay on a relaxing ride. The winds were picking up and we hear that it's harder to find the sharks when its rough and windy. Another side note, you don't swim with SCUBA kits around the sharks. The bubbles and sounds the scuba equipment makes, scares them away, therefore we were to snorkel only. We were optimistic however that the last 8 runs have seen them.

The way they find the whale sharks is to look for birds primarily. They circle what is called a "boil" a boil is basically schools of fish that come to the surface and jump.. making it look like the ocean is boiling.  This means there are whale sharks feeding there and as they go deep and then rise to surface, the fish that are eating the krill (which is what the whale shark eats too) then are forced to the surface creating a boil.

No Whale Sharks Today

We went on a 4 hour bumpy boat ride in 10-20 foot swells, and didn't see a single boil or bird. So needless to say. We didn't get to see a whale shark on this trip! BOOOO! Ah well... better luck next time. We didn't get sea sick and it was beautiful and we got a tan. But after 4 hours on a boat in rough seas, and after three dives this morning... we were spent.  That evening we went out with our friend George and another diver who has been on the boat with us this week. We really love this lifestyle of diving, boating and going out to eat with friends every night.  We are sad that we are going to leave here in a couple days, but are grateful for the experience we have had here. 

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