Dive Log: Taprobane East Wreck & Taprobane West (26/02/2010)

Dive #29 and #30 (and #31), diving off Mount Lavinia with Colombo Divers, Boatman Ravinda, Divemaster Jehan, Dive guide DJ and buddy Karin.

Taprobane East Wreck:
Bottom time – 35 minutes; Depth – 31.6 meters

Imagine a canvas of pure white sand and aquamarine blue, a picture perfect tropical paradise beach with the endless bowl of the blue sky replaced by the ocean. Into this starkly beautiful landscape had sunk a small boat, initially probably sullying the pristine scene with its harsh man-made lines, oil and diesel leaking. Time has however smoothed this out and now it is heaven underwater, the rusted shell covered in green and pink soft corals and fish exploding out of every nook and cranny.

Heaven's Gate (picture courtesy of Dharshana Jayawardena off Dive Sri Lanka)

As we sank through the 30 meter plus visibility waters, the rusted wreck looked strangely abstract and as we got closer, amorphous. As we got closer to the bottom the reason for the shape-shifting became obvious as an immense shoal of glass fish obscured the wreck. Literally pushing through the glinting shoal we moved over the sunken ship settling down into the sand at the stern where the fish life was more languid but still diverse.
 Glass fish surrounding the wreck (picture courtesy of Dharshana Jayawardena off Dive Sri Lanka)

An Electric Ray swam slowly into view while Blue-Lined Snappers and Fusiliers shoaled. Swimming back onto the  main body of the wreck and exploring the skeletal remains we came across a Scorpion fish hiding amongst the rust coloured remains of the deck while Sweetlips playing hide and seek with us.

This was one of those dives again where there was just too much happening initially to absorb it all. This is a site that needs to be dived again and again to get adjusted to the life kaleidoscoping all around it and get into the nuances of the biodiversity that is so abundant on this small oasis of life amongst the white sand underwater desert. I simply spent my last few minutes of non-decompression time swimming into the shoal of Glassfish by myself and making 360 degree turns in the shoal to enjoy the sunlight arching through the thousand tiny translucent fish, the light rays glittering and sharding through them as bliss overcame me, 30 meters down in heaven.

Jehan and I explore the wreck (picture courtesy of Dharshana Jayawardena off Dive Sri Lanka)
Taprobane West: Bottom time – 43 minutes; Depth – 21.5 meters

We could see the reef from the boat and backrolling into the warm waters we could hear the reef rustling below us. According to Ravindra, this strangely serene sound is distinctive to reefs and they often use it to locate them when the bottom cannot be seen.

Taprobane West is similar to Serendip Reef in that you get this sensation of swimming in a giant fish bowl with the endless visibility and the white sand that peppers the bottom. Apparently according to DJ the huge shoals of fish that were usually present were absent, however I kept myself quite entertained with the profuse macro life on the reef. Tiny yellow leaf-like fish hid amongst the rocks while Shrimp Gobies vigorously defended their subterranean lairs. Each coral head, representing half a century to a century worth of growth was an ecosystem to itself. Apparently it was naptime at the reef because all the Red-Toothed Triggerfish were ensconsed within sandy holes with only their blue-fin tips visible, looking ludicrously like bright-blue parrots hiding with only their crossed wingtips shown.

The highlight of the dive for me however was when J and I found a huge Mantis Shrimp sheltering in a perfectly circular hole in the ground. Inching closer we were astonished to see tiny, translucent red and white banded offspring drifting up out of the hole. Unfortunately as my decompression time was ticking close to double digits we had to take leave of this watery birth scene and take regretful leave of paradise, clambering back onto the hot and sunny boat back to reality.


Palagala: Bottom time – 34 minutes; Depth – 13.5 meters

Dive #31, mostly due to Jehan mentioning idly that another diver was coming for an afternoon dive and asking if I wanted to tag along and my inability to say no to diving. This was largely a quiet dive on Palagala, murky visibility limited to about 3-4 meters and a new diver who had issues with his buoyancy. Most of our time was spent miming breathing in and out full underwater to try and get him to sort himself out in between him excitedly pointing at the fish swirling around us in the green. But then it was a dive…so I was happy.


Kirigalpoththa said...

marvellous! Never done diving but I feel like doing it sooner than I thought after going thro' your posts.

Heaven's gate is awesome!

Offthebeatentrack said...

You should definitely give it a try, call Colombo divers! :)