Giant Clam Photo Shoot #1…..

Dear F&F,
July 11, 2010
Giant Clam Photo Shoot #1

The day started with Scott re-cementing Natalie\’s loose crown. The procedure
was painless & successful. The retired dentist has not lost his touch.
During this time (about 8 a.m. local) we were able to glimpse a partial
eclipse of the sun. Thin clouds helped veil the intensity of the \”crescent\”
sun. It was viewed as a full eclipse from other locations.

Solo French sailor Bernard managed to come into the harbor alone, but Scott
helped him set his stern anchor from our dinghy. It is difficult to set two
anchors on your own, plus he recently fractured a rib, so any effort with
his arms or bending, etc is painful. He is now securely tucked between Na
Maka & Beach House. A much preferred neighbor to the Swiss boat.

We were keen to dive in the giant clam area on a Sunday as only 2
Seventh-Day Adventists tour operators work. We hoped to avoid the crowds of
snorkelers that cycle through on other days of the week. As we loaded the
dinghy with our dive gear, we could hear the harmonious singing from the
nearby churches.

It is about a 30 minute dinghy ride from the marina where Beach House is
anchored to the giant clam preserve. I drove outbound since it is into the
wind & waves, making for a jarring ride for the person in front. Scott also
helps me see the coral heads. It takes a lot of concentration to steer a
safe path though the many shallow rocky coral patches.

Once at the site, there was plenty of sand to set the anchor in without
damage to the coral. We decided to bank on \”asking for forgiveness instead
of permission\”. We don\’t know if scuba diving is forbidden. But we knew we
could take plenty of photos and cause no harm. Scott took the wide angle
lens first, which gives the best perspective of the size of these mollusks
with me posing in my usual fashion. The entire area is at most only 15 feet
deep so we knew our one tank of compressed air (each) would easily last for
2 dives

It is RARE that we ever change lenses \”in the field\” from the dinghy because
Scott has to open the watertight housing which means there is a risk of
water getting on the camera during the lens change. But due to the long
bouncy ride, threading through coral fields, and the \”Sunday\” factor we
decided to take both wide angle & close ups during one trip. After an hour
dive with the wide angle, we surfaced and carefully dried the outside of the
housing with towels we brought for this purpose. I tried to sit in a wind &
sea spray blocking position holding a towel up for added protection. Scott
swapped the camera lens and port, re-greased the ever important O-ring & we
were now in close-up mode. Which means I can wear my nerdy beanie & stay

I didn\’t torment Scott by showing him the teeny tiny pipe fish when he was
using the wide angle lens, but was very glad I could find them again, since
they were now appropriate sized subjects. We spent another hour barely
swimming. Mostly kneeling in the sand to gaze (me) and shoot (Scott) the
gorgeous details of the many clams. Besides the almost 3 foot wide ones,
there are 1 foot sized clams that have a stunning blue/green edge on their
mantle. The siphons are interesting & look like space ships. Some
perspectives reveal an uncanny similarity to certain parts of the human
female anatomy. You will see what I mean when you view the \”07-2010-Aitutaki
UNDERWATER Photo Gallery\”.

It was a very successful outing. Poor Scott was pretty cold, submerged more
than 2 hours in only his 3 mm wetsuit. I was fine in my 6 mm. If the water
continues to get colder as predicted, I will probably be switching to my dry
suit. Especially when we do multiple dives, several days in a row, the
effect of temporary hypothermia creeps in, primarily exhaustion. Sleeping
better on the days we dive is a bonus we appreciate.

When Scott uploaded the photos for our review, we are pleased with the
results but quickly agree we must return to shoot one more time. He needs to
take the super macro lens, the 105 mm, to really capture the detail, color &
texture of these amazing clams. We don\’t seem to be rushing away from this
island, so we will do it.

Cindy & Scott