Dive Log: Palagala (Formosa) and Barracuda (2012/2009)

Dive #23 and #24, diving off Mount Lavinia with my favourite Dive Shop Colombo Divers, Boatman Ravinda, Dive buddy S and Divemaster Jehan.

Palagala: Bottom time – 47 minutes; Depth – 13 meters

This was the dive with the rather unexpected workout. S hadn’t dived for a bit and as we sank to the bottom I figured there might be some issues. The 3m visibility in Palagala takes a bit of getting used to if most of the dives you had done were the blue, 10m+ visibility ones in Matara or Hikkaduwa. And Palagala had freaked me out the first time. As S hit the bottom I winced a bit as both her hands came in contact with the silt and rock at the bottom. Not because of any damage to the corals, since it was mostly rock, but out of concern for her. Scorpion fish are abundant on the reef, amazingly camouflaged and getting stung by one is no picnic. You really want to take a good look before landing on any stony surfaces here (and in the ocean in general).

We settled down for a bit and tried to sort out S’s buoyancy, almost a year out of diving can play hell with these skills and I felt for her as she struggled a bit to sort herself out. Unfortunately she was a bit overweighted and just couldn’t get a hang of either how much air to put into her BC or to get her breathing sorted to maintain her buoyancy. As we swam around I kept a close eye on her and lifted her over the reef when she seemed about to run into it and kept another close eye to make sure she didn’t shoot to the surface. I must say I never thought I would get a bicep workout underwater but there you go...there's always a first!

All in all quite an interesting dive if not for the usual reasons. Trying to help someone sort themselves underwater was a fascinating experience and probably the first time I got an inkling that I might want to pursue a Divemaster course.

Barracuda Reef: Bottom time – 32 minutes; Depth – 23.4 meters

S suffered from a bout of sea sickness during the surface interval and decided not to do the second dive, so J and I sank into the blue waters of Barracuda Reef, where the usual shoal of Pickhandle Barracuda didn’t fail to delight, shiny yellow and grey against the blue backdrop.

Barracuda Reef really is a superlative dive, the blue coral fans peppering the rocks and crevices with innumerable fish and invertebrate life just inviting a diver to stand on their head, exhale and explore. I had decided to reduce my weights by one kilo and thus I was in the throes of neutral buoyancy nirvana. The one kilo reduction meant I could fine tune my buoyancy without any issues and the sense of freedom as I swooped over the reef was exhilarating.

The dive itself was jaw dropping as usual. A lobster lurked under a rock and refused to come out and play while another shrimp hid in a hole in the rock, feelers sticking out, white and stringy. As we swam over an overhang in the rock I noticed what looked like a spotted plate on the sand, underneath the overhang. Exhaling and sinking down gracefully (even if I do say so myself) I was excited to discover an Electric Ray hiding from the daylight hours. Despite Jehan and I both cooing over him, he simply blinked his eyes, ruffled his body into the sand and studiously ignored us. I guess when you pack a voltage from 50-200V you can afford to be a bit nonchalant.

The grande finale to a perfect dive was what appeared to be a little grooming session between a Giant Moray and the most multi-coloured crab I had seen sans being devilled. The Moray gaped at us out of a cylindrical hole in the reef and as I stared at this in fascination, a little movement on the side of his neck attracted me. There was the crab, sylph and coloured in the shades of bright orange, deep red and a midnight black, skittling around the Moray’s neck. The Moray seemed quite chilled out about this with only the occasional shiver as the crab touched a soft spot (I guess). Leaving this rather uncommon tryst to their own devices, we regretfully noted that our decompression time had come to an end and surfaced to be dragged rather ungracefully (in my case not Jehan’s) back onto the boat by Ravinda.


Dilsiri Welikala said...

super! i last dived palagala more than 8 years ago.

Offthebeatentrack said...

8 years! Dude an updated dive is long overdue!