Saturday, July 27, 2013

Colicing horse

I got my first experience with a colicing horse last night.

Colic in a horse is any kind of abdominal pain, frequently caused by either a blockage or a twist in the horse's gastrointestinal tract. Literally, horses can get their bowels in a twist. In mild cases it can go away on its own. Severe cases require surgery and can be fatal.

Yesterday afternoon Chocolate started showing the signs: laying down, rolling - really, thrashing around on the ground - getting up but laying back down or rolling again right away. The "usual" treatment is to walk the horse, not let them lie down, and get oil (vegetable or mineral oil) into the gut. Elaine started both of those and called the vet.

A shot of muscle relaxer and a mineral oil "flush" later and we hoped he was on his way back. But later in evening he started rolling again, still in discomfort. So, we started walking him. Because we didn't want to walk him anywhere there was grass for him to get at, we had to walk him on the pavement. Since it was late by then and dark, we couldn't safely use the road. The solution was walking up and down our neighbor's long driveway. Back and forth, up and down. We logged several miles (literally!) walking the 1/8 mile driveway.

Finally, about 4:00 am Elaine felt confident enough to come to bed. By this morning Chocolate was still feeling the effects of the colic, the muscle relaxers and the anesthetic (for the mineral oil flush) but was much much better.

Colic can be caused by many things. We think his was caused but eating sand, which is fairly common among horses how eat where the ground is dry and sandy. Basically, they ingest sand while they are grazing. The sand doesn't pass through their systems easily and settles to the bottom. It can actually weigh down their stomach and intestines until a blockage is formed. The solution - aside from not letting them eat where there is sand - is a monthly "sandblast" with psylium seed husk. There are commercial products, one of which is called "Sandblaster," but psylium is the active ingredient in Metamucil.

Choco is doing fine now, back to his old cantankerous self. It was a scary night though.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another reef

Almost lost in the Great Manatee Adventure was the fact that we dove the reef in downtown Aguadilla on Saturday.

We've been on this reef before but not very often. It starts off at about 35-40 feet and then drops to about 80 feet on the outside. It's also a big long reef. We''re not really sure where it ends.

There is a lot to see on this reef. Unlike most of the places we dive, almost nobody dives there so it's not kicked and stomped on. The bad thing is visibility has never been good when we've been there. We think it's at least partly because the reef is in Aguadilla bay. Rio Culebrinas empties into the south side of the bay. We think a lot of the stuff that gets washed out from the river kind of gets trapped over this reef. We're hoping the visibility gets better after the rainy season.

I think I got my first nitrogen "hit" - a bit of decompression sickness - after this dive. Because of the nature of most of our dive profiles, we usually come to the surface slowly as part of the dive. We rarely do free ascents from depth in open water. One of the divers on this dive used a lot of air and we were forced to surface earlier than planned. I got myself a little messed up and surfaced much faster than I planned - or was good. Later Saturday evening I had some pretty uncomfortable vertigo, which is caused by a disturbance in the inner ear. We can't conclusively say it was decompression sickness but everything points to it.

Interestingly, we'd planned to dive at Crashboat  the next morning - the dive that turned into the Great Manatee Adventure. I almost didn't go because I was still feeling a little weird. As soon as I got down in the water, all the symptoms went away. Hmmm.

So, something learned and something to practice. Once in a while, just for the hell of it, I need to do a free ascent 'cause I don't want to feel like that again.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meanwhile, on our second dive

After the manatee hug dive we went to Natural for a second dive. The manatee was a tough acto to follow but the second dive was very cool also.

First, because we had two new divers along, we stayed shallow and turned south instead of north as we usually do. We were over a part of the reef we very rarely see.

Just as we were about to turn back toward "home," the water started to darken. It was exactly like what happens when storm clouds roll in across a clear blue sky. At first we thought something had been released and was clouding the water. And then this huge swarm of mackerel scad went streaming by us. Again, we've seen big schools of scad before but nothing like this. It was just awesome.

Yep, this is why we dive.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I got a hug

We dove at Crashboat today with a couple of new divers. I've been lucky enough to dive with manatee several times but never anything like this.

Some Department of Natural Resources people standing around on the beach told us there was a manatee swimming nearby and they thought she was sick. There were a gazillion divers (okay, probably really only 50 or 60 - seriously!) and boats in the water so we figured any manatee was long gone.

Wrong. She (we think it's a she) was still there, hanging around one of the piers.

Through a quirky series of events Darryl had my dive camera and I didn't have one. As you can see in the video, I was swimming around her, just to get a better look. As she started forward, I was just trying to get out of her way. I swam up a bit to give her room. She followed me up and reached out and hugged my leg with her flippers!

It was a very gentle hug. She let go and swam on toward some other divers and the surface.

I was a little freaked out but not really scared (okay, a little - it's hard to tell what a 1200-pound woman wants). but like I said, she was very gentle. Mostly, I wasn't sure how to act so as not to upset or freak her out. At any rate, it was all good - a truly close encounter of the animal kind. After all, this - observing and interacting with other creatures - is really why we dive.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Yesterday at Crashboat

We had a short but very nice dive with two brand new divers yesterday.

The big school of juvenile goatfish is still there. We've seen big schools of mackerel scad and evern Atlantic spadefish, but I've never seen this many goatfish. Pretty cool!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

TS Chantal

Tuesday night we had our first brush with a tropical storm of this hurricane season. Chantal scooted past well south of la isla. The winds picked up a bit and we had a little rain but nothing like the 3-8 inches they were predicting at one point. We are grateful for that!

The satellite photo above was taken about 5:00 pm Wednesday, more that 12 hours after Chantal passed us. We still have some lingering clouds but what is left of the storm is now over Haiti.

So what do you do when you're waiting for a storm? Don't know about you but we went scuba diving yesterday morning. 

Crashboat is always one of our "fishiest" dive sites with more of more kinds of fish than just about anywhere else but yesterday was crazy even by Crashboat standards. Most striking was this huge school of goatfish. Plus we saw lots of sergeantmajors, a scrawled cowfish, several trunkfish, an Atlantic spadefish, a baby drum, and and and 

Speaking of sergeantmajors, a couple of weeks ago we were diving a Crashboat. The night before I scraped my head, which is a pretty common occurrence. The scrape left a little ridge of skin loose on top of my head. While hanging out with a gazillion sergeantmajors under the pier, I felt this weird something on top of my head, like I was being munched on. At first it kinda freaked me out but I realized a sergeantmajor was eating that little ridge of loose skin. I started to laugh. I laughed so hard I spit out my regulator - not the first time that's happened either. I tried to thank the sergeantmajor for cleaning up my wound but by the time I turned around, he/she had disappeared into the crowd.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fourth of July at Shacks Beach


For the past few years I've gone out to KAP one of our beaches on the Fourth of July. This year, rather than fight the madness that is Jobos on a holiday, I decided to check out "our" beach at Shacks. Judging by the number of cars driving by Ola Lola's and parking on the side of the road, I expected a lot of people at Shacks.

From the ground it looked crowded. But from the kite, not so much. Still you may never have seen this many people at Shacks at one time. And honestly, that's one of the things we like about our beach: even on a holiday, when the beach is "crowded," there is still plenty of room. There aren't so many umbrellas you can't get through or so many blankets and towels you can't move without stepping on someone's "camp."

You can see more from this set on our Flickr page