monty halls’s dive mysteries

I’ve been watching the bbc series, monty halls’s diving mysteries. there are only four episodes which can be found on YouTube.

click on the following links to watch!

the driver’s graveyard (blue hole dahab, egypt)

japan’s lost atlantis (yonaguni, japan)

the ghost ship of thunder bay (lake huron, michigan, usa)

the kaiser’s gold (lake otjikoto, namibia)

what i dislike about it:
it is a critique common to all infotainment documentaries – how can a team hope to solve, in the course of a few days of filming, what academics have been studying and debating on for a great many years? this was particularly obvious in the yonaguni and the lake otjikoto episodes. it feels almost disrespectful, and yet this is the easiest way for the academics to earn some recognition for their many hard years of research.

why i watch it anyway:
because, as infotainment, it is entertaining and educational. it summarizes the arguments and/or conspiracy theories succinctly, and there is unbeatable underwater footage.

i genuinely appreciate how halls explicitly role-models safe diving. he explains quite clearly why he is functioning as a safety diver for a particular dive as he lacked the relevant training or equipment. another time, he explains that he injured his ear and thus had to sit a dive out and presented via a voice-over. this self-control is something all aspiring divers must learn!


in conversation with two (non-marine) biology majors

“did you see a lot of sea urchins?”
“they blanketed portions of the seabed.”
“that means the reef is dying.”
“what? why?”
“there is a lack of natural predators, an imbalance in the eco-system somewhere.”

thus i learnt that the sandy bottoms so common in tioman, where sea urchins are the only creatures around in a 7-10m radius, are referred to as urchin barren(s).

the natural predators of urchins include star fish, crabs and lobsters (also, trigger fish, apparently). their disappearance from the reef can usually be attributed to overfishing, or climate change forcing them to leave in search of cooler waters.

* * *
one usually hears divers comparing dive sites, and how some places aren’t worth visiting because there are only dead/bleached corals in the sand, and not much fish. granted, divers do spend a sizable sum of money and time to get to their dive sites, and it’s understandable for them to demand to see spectacular coral seas, and kelp forests teeming with creatures big and small peeking out from behind. dead corals, skeletons of calcium carbonate, are not exactly pretty or interesting.

what surprises me is that, having seen first-hand the degradation that man’s actions have wreaked on the once beautiful seabed, we are not shocked into further action. my life does not show any change – i still pack takeaways in environmentally-unfriendly styrofoam boxes, i use disposable plastic utensils when i could use reusable steel utensils, i switch on the airconditioning more frequently than i dare admit etc… obviously, i treasure convenience far more than i do some abstract environmental concern, and im afraid to say there are many more like me, for whom laziness is the way of life.

we must do more to save our seas or risk losing forever to our foolishness this last frontier of exploration.

book haul: aug 2014

i have a great many books that I’ve been trying to declutter, supposedly to make space for new books. the following quote sums my predicament up nicely:


yet, before I’ve even decluttered satisfactorily, this mailer from book depository made me go weak-kneed in excitement –


book depository, why dost thou torment me so? i cannot pass such an offer up! (i gave up buying books for lent this year – it would really have been a great temptation had this been held during lenten season)

well, here’s what i ordered this time –


been a fan of carlos ruiz zafon since i read the shadow of the wind, and the premise of marina sounds enticing enough.

neil gaiman and eddie campbell’s work is subtitled ‘a tale of travel and darkness with pictures of all kinds’. 20 pages in, so far, so interesting. looking forward to my bedtime reading after this post!

picked up yoko ogawa’s the diving bell during my recent trip to tokyo, enjoyed it, and revenge looks as disturbingly promising. or should that be, promisingly disturbing?

am currently reading julian baggini’s succinctly written ethics, lent to me by a very sweet colleague. the collection of essays in the virtues of the table will hopefully be just as illuminating.

am off to read, goodnight!

dive b-logging

a belated post about my weekend with scuba institute, where i dived for practice and for leisure.
(read about my first dive here!)

the team is small and therefore flexible, so i was shuffled between dive masters for different dives. the bosses, knowing that im a nervous (and therefore possibly dangerous) diver, always allocated a dive master as my buddy. i spent the first day diving with alwyn, pictured in the selfie below.


we descended into the waters and finned off to photograph underwater objects. rather, he did, while i followed and observed whatever it was he was photographing.

perhaps what people enjoy about diving is the opportunity, in the words of william davies, ‘to stop and stare’. I’ve never stared at shrimp so closely before (you usually only see them on a dish, don’t you?)

the planned third dive was aborted as the waters were too choppy and the weather too stormy…which was a pity because i really wanted to take a look at what it’s like underwater when the surface is chaotic. (by this time my confidence was already at acceptable levels, though im likely overestimating my abilities, heh)


(i love that i got photobombed by a fish.)

i remember the pre-sunrise better than i remember the next morning’s dives – but i followed iris, and later gerard, around, who pointed out various underwater creatures for me. saw the infamous crown of thorns – most aptly named, i must say. also, the sea fan coral.

im already looking forward to taking the ssi advanced adventurer course! early next year, perhaps – anyone wants to join me?

daybreak over tioman

some weekends back, i sneaked out of the country for a leisurely weekend dive. due to tide constraints, we found ourselves on the boat on Sunday morn at 6am, speeding away to a dive site.

i sat on the stern, swinging my legs over the bubbly foam in the boat’s wake, and watched the stars. i closed my eyes for a while and opened them to a deep calming grey, with the outline of tioman’s hills and valleys dark against the brightening sky. a turn of the boat, and there, the sky with rosy streaks peeking out as from behind a velvet curtain, slowly turning into a salmon hue.

(and im gonna spoil it all by saying it was then time to rig up and put on the wetsuit etc., and i missed the sunrise.)


calvin and hobbes sums everything up nicely, so, goodnight.