Day 322, Year 5 The Land of Giants
Date: Monday, September 13, 2010
Weather: Cloudy & Rainy Early, Then Mostly Sunny
Location: Nosy Sakatia, NW Madagascar

The weather this morning was unusually dreary. A dark cloud hung around for a bit and then dumped some rain. Usually the sun would come out after a little downpour, but today it just stayed dreary. So our plans for a mid-morning snorkel were cancelled. There was just not enough sun for underwater photos. So I continued working on naming fish pictures while Mark was on the computer linking photos to the website. We were able to access the Goldstone Picasa website and see summer photos of Jonah and Sam I know I’m prejudiced, but they are really beautiful little guys. We haven’t heard from Justin and Jo yet but we certainly hope they are home. They have promised to put up new photos of Ziggy and we can’t wait to see those.

Around noon, we saw that Nadine, Bruce, and Tristen of Pioneer were in the channel between Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Be just south of the Sakatia Towers anchoring area snorkeling. Yesterday when we returned from our way too shallow snorkel we noticed for the first time that the shallow area just south of us is full of coral. Previously we thought it was just a shallow sand bank. Mark got in the dinghy and went down to find out what Nadine and Bruce were seeing underwater, and he immediately returned and told me to get my suit on. In two minutes we were in the dinghy and two minutes later we were in the water. What a delightful surprise. This shallow area is full of various types of coral, sea fans, sponges, and small fish that are way bigger than we have ever seen. Bluegreen chromis which are usually no more than two inches long are more than double that here. These normally benign little fish were all of a sudden absolutely beautiful when mixed with bright orange and raspberry pink Anthias. The last time we saw Anthias was in Vanuatu, but here they are bigger, more numerous, and just beautiful. All of this was mixed with giant pink fan corals, white star fish with bright, bright red trimmings, the biggest clams we have ever seen, and a few fish varieties that just aren’t in the identification books. Conditions today were just perfect. We’ll give it another try tomorrow as there are just so many things to see. And we finally saw a nudibranch. Yeah! And Nadine saw a lionfish that was as big as a bushel basket. We’ll definitely look for that tomorrow. I don’t know what makes the fish so big here, but we do feel like we are in the land of giants.

Tonight Bruce, Nadine, and their daughter Tristen came over for a make-your-own pizza dinner. I had the pizza shells pre-cooked and Tristen had a great time building a pizza for herself and one for her mom and dad. We did a little slide show from today’s snorkel and just generally had a wonderful evening together. Bruce, Nadine, and Tristen will be flying back to South Africa on Saturday. Their trip here on Pioneer was a boat delivery and now they must get back to life on land in Cape Town, but I think they are already planning their next family sailing adventure.

100913 Day 322 Nosy Sakatia, Madagascar–Underwater Sakatia Channel