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NO SHARKS FINS SINGAPORE!!!

Hey everyone!

Please join in my effort together with plenty of divers out there to support this cause. Please try to stop/reduce consumption of Sharks Fins as we need these Apex predators in the sea to maintain an equilibrium in the Eco-system.

Official campaign launch by Ocean Geographic will be at ADEX 2012 at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Seeya there!

XOXO
Jessica

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It’s 7:30am in Singapore on a Sunday morning and I’m wide awake, and I thought the shot of Choya I had last night would help me sleep past 8am! My mind is still reliving the last 2 weeks I spent in the Bahamas & Miami and my body is still yearning to be back there. Well good things always have to come to an end right?

Flashback to February 29, woke up equally early at 7:30am, went to iHop for a hearty  breakfast of fluffy double blueberry pancakes and off to squeeze in “some” afternoon shopping at City Place in West Palm (our last grasp of civilization) before boarding our liveaboard, MV Dolphin Dream, for the next 10 days. All of us went on board with hearts filled excitement and certain amount of apprehension as the idea of interacting with wild dolphins and being surrounded by large sharks (and maybe a Tiger Shark or two) was a total new territory for us. After sailing throughout the night for 8-10 hours, we are finally in the Bahamian waters. Time to start the adventure!

The first 2 days of the trip began with snorkelling with wild Atlantic Spotted Bottle-nose dolphins – something that I was really looking forward to as I simply love dolphins! Decked up only in a bikini covered by a rash-guard with snorkelling gear, I jumped into the frigid 23 degree-celsius Atlantic Ocean (I’m a tropical water girl mind you!). When you first get into the water, your mind curses you for doing so, but once you start finning really fast and hard towards the dolphins and begin playing with them, the chill is soon forgotten. The thing I found out about these dolphins is that they are highly intelligent mammals and get bored easily. If your focus is to take a photo if them and not play with them, they will just ignore you and swim off. Luckily I was out there with the motive to play with them! My first encounter with them was really exhilarating – one of my lifelong dreams is to play with dolphins in the wild – and now I’m  doing exactly that! A small pod of 6-8 of them came up to our group of 4 snorkellers (we were the first 4 to manage to swim up to them) and the free divers dove underwater and started interacting with them. At that point I only knew how interact with them from the surface by waving my bandanna at them and had no clue how to free dive. The numerous times that I tried to free-dive I just ended up chugging sea water :(. That first encounter was fantastic but I wanted more… Went in for another encounter with a different pod of dolphins and tried my best to free dive with them again hoping to get a close encounter with one and yet again I ended up with drinking more sea water! After the first day of dolphin encounter ended, I went up to the free divers and asked them what’s the trick to free diving to hopefully gain some tips and do it!

Day 2 with the dolphins, fresh from a good night’s sleep and determined to enhance my encounter with them. We found ourselves a pod of 3 dolphins, though numbers were small they were very interested in playing with us amidst hunting for fish hiding under the sand on the sea bed. They came really close to everyone this time and there’s this one young one (the older they get the more spots they have on their bodies like age-spots) that kept playing with me! I tried to free dive again, this time round I was successful! I twisted and turned with this young one underwater and it came up close right beside me signalling that it wanted a pet from me (apparently if they don’t want to be touched, no matter how close you are to them, you will never be able to touch them). I reached out and stroked it! As I was stroking it on its back, it gradually rolled over for a belly rub from me! I was so happy I could feel tears forming in my eyes (or maybe it was the sea water in my mask)… that few second encounter felt like time just paused and everything was in slow-motion. After it got what it wanted for me, it darted off to play with other people (short attention span I must say). Shortly, it came back to look for me again! Tossing and turning with it underwater and I reached out to touch it again and it let me – I have made a friend! How do dolphins feel like? One word – rubbery. That encounter made my day and I can tick off another item in my bucket list.

After those 2 days of swimming with the dolphins, it was a day of choppy waters and bad weather so we were stuck in the boat with no diving nor snorkelling. Captain Scott of Dolphin Dream decided to play a video he made a few years back on numerous years encounters he filmed on the dolphins. Through that video, we learnt from a first hand encounter (much better than those shown on Animal Planet) how these dolphins recognize people and actively go up to him to play just like puppy dogs! There’s a number of these dolphins that Captain Scott named and knew them as friends, in the hand-held video, you can see them going up to him for long belly rubs, pet on the head and sometimes a naughty nudge or two. Usually camera shy, they actually played and made “funny faces” at his camera! They would pick up the bandanna that Captain Scott passes on to them and they will play “pass the bandanna” from one dolphin to another from dorsal fin to tail fin to the side flipper and back to a human again! They got so comfortable with Captain Scott that they even brought up their babies to play with him and he would know their whole family tree (although the father of the child can never be determined). He even managed to record dolphin foreplay & sex (rated RA)! He related that the dolphins that play with us are usually the full grey young ones (that explains my encounter) and the older ones will just sit back and watch on the rest of the pod to make sure they are safe. Over the years, he watches the dolphins grow up, have their own children and they will bring their children back to him to play. They are just like his children and grandchildren. Captain Scott stopped interacting with his dolphin friends a couple of years back when he became the only captain for the boat and thus couldn’t go into the water anymore. I can see in his eyes how he misses his interaction with them.

2 days of dolphin encounter wasn’t enough for me but we had to move on to the next thing of the itinerary – the Tiger Shark and my photo shoot with the sharks for the upcoming “Sharks are Friends” campaign. I had to say goodbye to my newly made dolphin friend and wonder whether it will remember my encounter with him/her just as I do… (tears well up in my eyes again but this time its sad tears)

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Thank you Rachel for featuring my bag in your blog!!!

If you are interested in the article that she did up please visit http://ezrabellesg.weebly.com/-wimb.html to read it.

XOXO
Jessica

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Just got back from a great dive trip in Bali! Visited the USS Liberty Wreck, Crystal Bay for the Molas & Manta Point for the graceful Mantas. Didn’t take any underwater photos this time as I purely wanted to enjoy the sights of the elusive Molas. The molas are simply amazing & beautiful, and such strange looking fish! And i’m so happy we were so fortunate to see so many of them underwater looking back at us!

More photos of us having fun around Bali will be posted up soon once it’s edited!

XOXO
Jessica

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P1010723 - Jessica underwater

Hello everyone!

I just got back from a diving trip to Maldives!

It’s the best diving trip I’ve ever had so far! We got to dive with Whale Sharks (a very rare opportunity – it’s usually snorkeling), Manta Rays, Grey Reef Sharks, White Tip reef Sharks, plenty of Moray eels, big schools of Jacks, Tuna and plenty of colourful tropical fish! Not forgetting the beautiful underwater corals. I’ve always been fascinated with Marine life and all animals life and diving gives me an avenue to experience what I usually only get to see on animal Planet/Discovery Channel.

There was this one particular dive where the divers waited quietly and patiently at this cleaning area (at this point I didn’t know), and when I settled down on the sea bed edge, and looked up, I saw a BIG Grey Reef Shark 2-3 arm lengths away from where I am opening its mouth! The 1st thought that came to my mind was “Wow! I get to see it feed!”, then when I saw how the body was tilted and the mouth was gaping open, I knew it wasn’t the usual feeding body language. Then I realised it was getting its teeth cleaned by these tiny lil’ fish swimming in and out of its mouth!then, another 5-6 sharks started to get used to us and circled around where we were to get themselves cleaned. I was like “Wooowww! This is Animal Planet in my FACE!” I was so happy and thrilled by this whole entire experience – it was like a dream come true!

Then came the dive with the Whale Shark! It is at least 10m long and swam so gently and slowly in the shallow waters feeding on plankton. I dove right beside it from the tail to the mouth and when I reached the mouth, it opened its jaws so big to suck in the plankton! I caught all of that close up of it’s palette on my camera! I could gush on and on about my this dive trip, but let’s let my pictures do the talking! I took most of the pictures and borrowed some from the other divers! 🙂

Enjoy!

XOXO

Jessica

IMG_1435 - PufferfishGiant Pufferfish

IMG_1516 - TunaDog Toothed Tuna

IMG_1671 - Honycomb MorayHoneycomb Moray Eel (I love this pic!)

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IMG_1715 - School of fishBlue Stripped Fusillia

IMG_1734 - Resident WrasseNapoleon Wrasse

IMG_1739 - Resident WrasseThis is one of my favourite pictures I took!

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Marble Ray – This is one of the largest Rays I’ve seen underwater (about 2m in diameter)

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White Tip reef Shark hiding under rocks

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Spotted Porcupine Fish

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Manta Ray swimming straight at me!

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It came so close that my camera couldn’t frame it entirely!

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Whale shark!

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Hawksbill Turtle – I followed this fella for some distance to get some nice shots!

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P1010583 - Jessica on the Dony

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Diving Trip to Redang

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Went to Redang over the holiday weekend in September to complete my Advance Open Water Course. It was really fun diving with a whole bunch of friends. There’s Maldives trip at the end of the year, can’t wait to go for that one!

photos from the fast craft we took across to Redang. Took about 45min from the mainland.

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The Resort! Its a nice little place with a very nice pool and great food all day round.

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and they had squirrels running everywhere! They will take food straight from your hands!

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Some photos before the dive…

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One of the instructors with his dive marker for the shore dive.

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The other 3 Advance Open Water students.

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Underwater photos!

Pierre, our instructor, doing some test with us.

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Between dives,  everyone will go to the pool and clown around a bit..

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On the last day of the trip, we walked around the island and went to a lookout point and took some photos. there was this really cute kitten running around so I picked her up and took a photo with her!

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And here’s the whole group for the trip!

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My Diving Gear

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Hello!

I got my full diving gear!!! Just collected my BCD & regulator! Managed to find a pink moudable mouthpiece to attach to my regulator. Super happy! I really needed to find a moudable mouthpiece cos the last time I went diving in Tioman with the rented gear, the mouthpiece gave me 4 ulcers on my gums cos it kept abrading against my gums during the dive. 😦 It was not easy and enjoyable to endure the pain during the dive.

Now, I just need to pimp the gear up in pink! 😛

XOXO

Jessica

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