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The High Noon Sun Illuminates Purple Pink and Yellow Algae

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2000-06-23

The weekend weather is heating up as we look toward the long hot summer here on Okinawa. Here is another great site for the whole family. Bring your Kayaks here too! After you have been introduced to Malibu Beach you will be back often.

Dive Site: Malibu beach. Level of difficulty: novice to expert

Site Location: Drive north on Highway 58 past Kadena Circle and continue to the village of Yamada. The Ramada Renaissance Hotel is on the left side of Highway 58. Turn left at the traffic light in front of the Ramada. Follow this street down until you have reached the last set of buildings on your right. The Malibu hotel is clearly marked and you will have a really nice view of a bay of green water just in front of the hotel. Turn left into the parking lot across the street.

Please do not park in the hotel's parking areas and please respect their request for divers not to use their washrooms and showers. Bring your own water. You will see signs in Malibu's parking lot requesting your cooperation. The sandy beach on your left is a favorite with locals for reef walking and moon watching. Feel comfortable here though because the owners have always been willing to share their good fortune with divers.

What to expect: A great spot for all divers and any students in training. Visibility, after a rain will not be great so try to plan your diving on an incoming tide. Bottom composition makes this a really attractive dive site for novice divers, or those experienced divers that dislike long walks over broken coral. Suit up either in the parking lot or on the grass near the parking lot. Enter the water at the end of the stream that moves down from the hills. Walk out on a heading that will take you toward the hotel across the bay. At low tide this will be about a 75 yard walk across exposed smooth rock. At high tide you will have the support of about waist deep water.

Recommended 1st Dive Profile: Move about 75 yards offshore, walking on a northerly heading. You will come across many 3 inch steel pipes in the water. Some vertical and some lying among the rocky rubble beneath you.

From this area shoot a due north compass heading and begin to snorkel out. On your left you see acres of staghorn coral. It is beautiful at high noon when the sun can best penetrate the water illuminating the purple, pink, and yellow algae that lives within the coral giving it various colorations. You may choose to descend when the water is too deep to stand in or when you have 20 feet of water beneath you, go on scuba and maintain the northerly heading. On this course you will swim across numerous coral fingers that will descend from your right to your left. The fingers are absolutely carpeted with a patch-work quilt of every type of coral seen in these waters. It is beautiful! Depths between these fingers will continually increase as you move further into the bay on your northerly heading.

Consider a reciprocal heading when your air supply reaches 1500 psi. The bottom composition out in the bay is open sand and rock. Keep an eye open for eagle rays, sting rays, and sea turtle. Auger shells and the illusive venus comb shells that live here in the sand of this bay. These precious shells only move out of their hides in the sand at night.

Your reciprocal will bring you back to the same opening in the coral that you left from. You may drift to your right coming back in since there is often a soft current coming out of the bay. If so you will be swimming directly into acres of staghorn that were on your left while snorkeling out. This coral lies at a depth of five to 15 feet and is really a grand site for photographers.

Juvenile moray eels make their home in the staghorn beds so keep an eye out. Sea snakes will often be seen poking their heads in and about this area looking for food. Don't let them spoil your dive. They need a home too! Please do not exit the dive site across this staghorn. I have seen these coral beds rise and decay twice in the past 20 years. Only five years ago this area was in absolute profusion; however, the warm water conditions killed it two years ago. Now we are anticipiating the sight of new growth any time now. Help keep the bed in place and respect what is there now and more will grow for us all later.

Other activities: night diving and underwater navigation will make your second dive even more fun as you learn the underwater hydrography of Malibu Beach. Many good dives can be planned and enjoyed here. Also the beach is great for family picnics. The shallow waters off the left of the beach (where the staghorn is) also makes this a favorite for snorkelers too! Finally, this is also a good place for kayakers to put in and paddle out across the bay. So Malibu Beach pretty much has it covered for things to do!

Aquatic animals found here: stone fish, parrot fish, moray eels, sting rays, eagle rays, venus comb shells, scorpion conch, clownfish and me with a camera. Also don't let all the sand disappoint you. Look closely and you will see hundreds of small mounds that are homes to blennies, gobies and all manner of auger shells all living in the sand.

Best time of year to dive: NOW. Winter is good too but it gets a little cold. Mild temperatures in the winter let everyone enjoy the site and the tourists are out of town.

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