Location: Secret location, Baranoff Island, southeast Alaska.
Surely we should have got our fill of diving with jellies – or jellyfish as they are incorrectly referred to – I can just imagine rows of jellies standing up and shouting out that “we are not fish, we are jellies”!!!! – with 3 days of jdiving on the last trip. But it is such an amazing experience that I headed back to our secret jelly location, found more “smudges” (aggregating spawing moon jellies) and splashed our divers with them. Nobody was the least bit disappointed. In fact, some very experienced scuba divers on this trip rated their jelly dive as perhaps the top dive of their life. Seriously!!! It probably helped that the congregation of moon jellies was an estimated 6 – 7 times denser than it was on the last trip. Which meant that I had to do a splash and see it for myself. The jellies were indeed unbelievable, awesome, seriously cool and completely “unworldly”.. Very difficult to describe the feeling of swimming through a dense mass of tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions??) of translucent white jellyfish – so dense that you can’t seem through them as they pile up on your mask – all with the softest touch or kiss on your face. The opening sequence of the Howard and Michele Hall IMAX film Deep Sea 3D gives a bit of a taste of what it’s like. One of the many amazing things about this dive was that the concentrations of jellies was not uniform and at one point I ended up in a “room” with a solid layer of jellies below me, a solid layer on top of me and more solid masses around me while I remained in the centre of the “room” in the clear in brilliant bluey-green water (vis was spectacular on my dive).. My final ascent to the surface turned out to be the coolest experience of all when I encountered a halocline – or layer of fresh water – at 3.6 feet (measurable precisely with the computer on my Evolution rebreather).. I could see the jellies ascending to the thermocline and then bouncing off it as if they were hitting a brick wall, turning sideways, swimming for a bit and then swimming back down towards the deep. It was basically masses of jellies piled up against the ceiling of their world. The halocline was so defined that I could place it very precisely half-way up the goggles of my mask – saltwater in the bottom part of my mask filled with jellies, and then an inch or so of “oily looking” halocline, and then green water in the uppermost part of my mask. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.. But wait, it got even better when I ascended slightly above the halocline and laid motionless between a solid floor of moon jellies below me and the surface just above me. It was as if I was back in my flying days and skimming along on top of cloud deck with a flat sea of jellyfish everywhere I looked except for the odd set of diver bubbles breaking through the halocline and jellies in the distance with the air bubbles carrying small groups of jellies to the surface. The dive skiff drifted pasted me at one point and the folks onboard said that it looked equally cool to see a motionless and bubbleless diver lying on to of the white mass and just below the surface. This is a dive that I will dream about for a long time… Captain Mike
Weather: Low clouds, heavy rain showers, air temperature in the mid 50’s no wind and flat calm. A summer day in Alaska..
Water: Water temperature 46 degrees. Superb in-water visibility.
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