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Dive Dry with Dr. Bill

#556: What Turns You On?

Now I've got family and friends who get all excited when they watch a great golf shot... yawn. I'm more interested in the club selected by Tiger Woods' ex wife. Others thrill at the sound of a bat sending a baseball over the fence... boring (unless it's the Cubbies at Wrigley Field). My beloved grandfather loved to play and later watch tennis on TV. I get the "love-love" part, but that's it. And my son Kevin and his wife Mary cheer when the 49ers loft a pass into the end zone... sorry, kids, not my thing (unless it is my Great Uncle "Papa" George Halas' Chicago Bears).

What sends shivers up my spine? I mean besides a lovely mermaid, of course! Why almost anything new that I see down in King Neptune's realm. I remember the day I was on Scuba Luv's boat and spent 43 minutes following a mantis shrimp in mating coloration out in the open looking for his lady. When I surfaced, I was whooping and hollering. Captain Tony Heeter yelled out "Only you could get that excited over a 'worm.'" Well, other than needing a lesson in marine biology, Tony was the type who went goo-goo-ga-ga over that incredibly boring game known as baseball. Yes, I know... I don't understand the strategy. Dream team? Not for me, unless it is full of sea stars, crabs, sharks... and mermaids!

This summer I've seen several unidentified sea cucumbers that quickly responded when my bright video lights hit them. If you were paying attention a few weeks ago, you remember this is an example of negative phototaxis... movement away from a light source. Now the commonly seen holothurians in our waters, the warty and the California sea cucumber, show no obvious response to light so this was an interesting discovery. Since I see no young 'uns of those species out and about, I'm thinking this is the juvenile stage of one of them but am awaiting confirmation from specialists.

Just in case you are of the politically correct crowd, I guess I shouldn't refer to sea cucumbers as cucumbers since they are not plant life but members of the echinoderms. You know, relatives of the star fish (er, I mean sea star). I don't think any of you would get confused if you were faced with a choice between one of these and a relative of the melon known scientifically as Cucumis sativus. Besides, one would be in the produce section and the other in the seafood section of your local market. However, if you are of the Asian persuasion you might choose the sea cucumber since it is believed to have benefits for one's love life. Hmmm, maybe I need to try a few myself.

A few weeks ago I was on yet another long dive under cover of darkness when I encountered a few more of these unidentified critters. The first two withdrew back into the rocks as soon as my lights hit them, which meant the recorded video sequence was pretty short. I analyzed the dilemma and quickly came up with a solution. As soon as I saw one at the edge of the light field, I swung my lights off to the side, positioned myself to film, pressed the record button and moved the camera back to focus on them as they started to react. The result was four more video sequences of greater length that documented this behavior clearly.

A few nights ago I once again descended into the dark waters looking for these cukes. Earlier that day a 10 ft great white shark had been seen cruising near the Catalina Flyer in the harbor. I wouldn't be honest unless I admitted to being just a little concerned about that. I've had a bigger great white pass me by in daytime and head towards the fat, juicy sea lions at the East End. However, during darkness a young and inexperienced GWS might make a mistake. Fortunately it never materialized, but it was strange that I never saw a single one of the sea cucumbers I was looking for. Hmmm. On top of that, after looking for mermaids under water for decades (despite NOAA telling me they don't exist), I had one come up to me and give me a big hug when I walked up the dive park stairs 90 minutes later. I didn't think land was their preferred habitat!

© 2013 Dr. Bill Bushing. Watch the "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill" underwater videos on Catalina Cable TV channel 29, 10:00 AM weekdays and on Charter Communications Cable channel 33 at 7:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Riverside/Norco area. You can also watch these episodes in iPod format on YouTube through my channel there (drbillbushing). Please help me climb out of self-imposed poverty... buy my DVD's (see this link). Yes, take Dr. Bill home with you... we'll both be glad you did!

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Sequence of one light sensitive sea cucumber withdrawing into the rocks as my video lights hit it.

This document maintained by Dr. Bill Bushing.
Material and images © 2013 Star Thrower Educational Multimedia