And for today's topic, me and the boys go collecting corals!
The day was perfect! The ocean was calm and the sky blue. Here is my right hand man Teau (driving the boat) and his sidekick Tau. They are originally from my neck of woods, the San Francisco Bay Area. Destiny has it that they ended up on a South Pacific Island diving for corals, a long way from East Palo Alto!
This beautiful little island is surrounded by beautiful corals! This was our first stop. I have close up pictures of this picturesque get-away island that I will share on another thread. We made a promise to ourselves on this day that we would come and roast a pig and have a pic-nic on this island before I left - and we did - going to be an awesome write up!
We anchored and Teau and Tau getting ready to go look for the goods! The guy manning the engine is our boat man Sione. His main job is to secure the boat, help with diving gear, and putting away the corals into those bins you see. Sometimes he will pull the anchor and follow the guys, watching the bubbles.
My excitement turned into concern when I noticed the belly was bloated. Due to rapid rise to the surface, the fish was unable to decompress!
Quick thinking on my part, I grabbed a fly and bent down the barb and stuck it into the bottom of the trigger.
After the hook broke the bloated air bladder, I was able to squeeze out the excess air. He swam down as soon as I put him back into the water, think he will be ok. Well that was an experience, catching and releasing a clown trigger with a hook and line - never a dull moment when you are out in the water!
The first to come up was Teau. Along with corals, he had found a highly prized sea cucumber. This species of pech de mer is the most sought after of the holothurians in Tonga. It is found relatively deep so difficult to obtain. In the recent years, the Tongan Fisheries has allowed export of these highly sought after delicacies. They are gutted, cooked, and dried before being packed for export. Most of these end up in the Asian market, so it is not surprising that most people doing this business are Asians. A special license is required and when it is in season, the whole island fisher folks are busy collecting and selling to the processors/exporters. I remember once, the price of local lobsters had sky rocketed due to the scarcity, simply because everyone was looking for sea cucumbers instead!
The local name of this sea cucumber translates to eight teats or nipples. There are four of these nipples on each side of the giant hard slug. This particular specimen would fetch around $50 US when sold to an exporter. So as a diver, if you can find ten of these in a day, well you are doing very good!
Ok guys that is it for today. As I type this, I can hear fireworks still outside. As promised I will be updating with more adventures in the coming days, so please stay tuned.
Oh and I forgot to mention that during my last trip to Tonga, I worked on a secret project that is going to positively shake up the industry! I will share this with you when the time is right:)