Exhausted by Enjoyment. Plus Groupers and Gropers: there is a World of Difference

I am bruised and shattered after spending most of Sunday underwater with a small group of hard core local divers.

[Aside: for all those of you who cherish illusions concerning the physical similarities between surfers and divers; allow me to disillusion you. Surfers, as we all know, are universally fit, healthy, tanned and relaxed. Divers, I will have you know, are fat, chain-smoking, pasty and awkward with girls. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining about it. Its just so we’re all clear before I go any further.]

At the first dive site we went to scout (checking whether the sea conditions were favourable for diving), we stood on a windswept cliff looking down at a pile of huge sandstone rocks about 80 feet below us, covered in barnacles and liberally drenched by the enormous waves which crashed against them every few seconds.

~ The Pacific Ocean makes the North Sea look like a small, grubby hand basin in a Council toilet. ~

Fat Diver #1: “Yeah, it looks good. Nice one. Its a bit like a washing machine, you know, if you jump in at the wrong moment, but, like, you just need to time it right. Like… Now! Yeah? Like… Not now! See?”

Me: “Er, okay. And where’s the dive exit?”

Fat Diver #2: “See those rocks? Where the waves are coming in from both directions at once? Okay, well, you slip round the corner under that overhang as the wave washes in and then you haul up and out as the wave sucks back, yeah? But, like, quickly.”

Fat Diver #3: “Are you girls up for it? Shark Point is a really cool dive, you’ll love it. Once you’re in.”

Me: “Wait, its called Shark Point? SHARK Point? Not SHARP Point? You’re sure? Okay. Right.” *Looks at the other girls who have gone green* “Why don’t we try Bare Island instead? I’ve heard that’s lovely.”

It was a wonderful day’s diving, but not the easiest day’s diving. We saw an octopus, a weedy sea dragon, a Port Jackson shark pup, huge numbers of bristleworms, nudibranchs, sea stars, and orange, white and purple sponges. At one point, I swear it was like being on one of the sets of the original Star Trek. Only, you know, wetter and with a huge guy called Ben bashing you in the head with a fin every few minutes.


Now that we’ve clarified the differences between surfers and divers, let me elucidate the Vast Gulf that separates the Grouper from the Groper.

The Australian Blue Grouper is a big ole fish – they can grow to over a metre in length and more than 100kg (220 pounds) in weight; comparable to a Great Dane dog. No kidding. All Groupers start life as females, and the ones in Sydney Harbour are a lovely soft green colour. Each male has a harem of several females and he patrols their territory constantly to protect it from interlopers. When a male dies, the largest of the females in his harem turns blue, becomes male and takes over.

I will refrain from drawing the obvious lessons from that piece of biological neatness.

However, I will take this opportunity to observe that diving with a woman in a bright blue wetsuit can swiftly go from interesting to alarming.

I also urge you to read the Wikipedia article on Groupers. Next time anyone tries to tell you that fish are boring or not as curious or cool as other animals, please regale them with fascinating tales of the Grouper. 

In the meantime, here is a photo of the 80cm long male Grouper who joined us on our first dive yesterday morning for 10 minutes or so. Smiling toothily.


On the contrary, the Australian Groper is married to my boss and corners girls at the Office Christmas Party to pat their bum, leer down the front of their dress and tell them things they’d really rather not hear from a drunk 50 year old.


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18 Responses to Exhausted by Enjoyment. Plus Groupers and Gropers: there is a World of Difference

  1. piereth says:

    By the sounds of your boss’s husband, I’d rather snog the fish!! 🙂

  2. Yikes – natural sex changes – wonder how they decide amongst themselves who is going to become male.

    Perhaps the Boss’s spouse needs an enforced sex change [VEG]

  3. truce says:

    piereth – you, me and every other female in the office, I assure you.

    Archie – I’d like to make a smart alec comment about how they decide who’s going to turn male, but I will exercise restraint…;) But yes, the boss’s spouse certainly needs some kind of drastic intervention.

  4. That fish looks a little spooky, but entirely fascinating. Do you have any other pictures? I’d love to see them! The situation with your boss’s husband sounds intolerable.

  5. Wow. That really is fascinating about the fish. And your boss’s husband. But not in the same way.

  6. truce says:

    waxingstrange – I will dig some out and post them, but in the meantime, if you click on the link to Flickr at the top right of my blog and then on the set of photos titled ‘diving’, you’ll find a few more!

    David – Yes, isn’t it?

  7. azahar says:

    Grouper is also deeelicious! It’s called mero in Spanish.

    Gropers, on the other hand, should be smacked with a large wet grouper.

  8. truce says:

    Az – that reminds me of a python sketch whrlere John Cleese and Michael Palin slap each other with fish. Hilarious, I’m off to YouTube to find it now…

  9. truce says:


    Where. Sheesh.

  10. pandemonic says:

    Can you eat those groupers?

    Gropers should be flogged.

    In that other internet site where most of us came from, there were people who wrote articles on “Gripers” (because we were unhappy with the management of the place), but they would spell the word “G-R-I-P-P-E-R-S.” If you had half a brain and read the comments, it was actually pretty amusing.

  11. Grippers, gripers, groupers, and gropers! What an amazing bunch. Must go play scrabble now…

    Gropers I used to know responded favorably (in the sense that they never did it again) two three different techniques I used depending on how annoyed I was with them. One was to reach behind me with my free hand, grab their balls and squeeze as hard as I could. One was to step backwards onto their foot, this worked best when I was still wearing stiletto heels although my work boots now would probably accomplish the same thing. The other technique was to have a reflex jerk of my knee sending my heel or toe into their shin, with an insincere “Oh, sorry, you startled me!” accompanying it. I realize all of these techniques are sort of unladylike and not very pacifist.

  12. Grrrr. “to three” NOT “two three”

  13. Ah, the famous fish-slapping dance! One of the shortest, weirdest, and delightfullest MP bits.

  14. David says:

    This might also make you laugh: http://www.much-ado.net/austenbook/

  15. truce says:

    David – oooooh, I LOVED that. And the Hamlet one. Thank you.

  16. RaiulBaztepo says:

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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