Dive #29 and #30 (and #31), diving off Mount Lavinia with Colombo Divers, Boatman Ravinda, dive buddies Nishan and Anu.
Cargo Wreck: Bottom time – 41 minutes; Depth – 29.1 meters
Some anomaly of the wreck attracted a second glance from me. As I swam in closer I was slightly taken aback to see a bit of the wreck move quite sinuously. Looking at my dive computer to confirm I was nowhere near 30 meters and as such couldn’t be narced I looked at the writhing piece of the wreck with unabashed interest. I almost whooped into my regulator when I realized that I had been staring at what looked like an elongated seahorse on a diet.
Beckoning Nishan over excitedly I pointed out the creature, which he later (once he didn’t have a regulator in his mouth) identified as a species of Pipefish, which for those of you who are scientifically inclined are in the Syngnathidae family, which includes the seahorses.
After metaphorically patting myself on the back for making this exciting discovery I occupied myself for the rest of the dive by poking my head into the dark portholes to stare at the eerie depths of the wreck, the twisted metal eerily green/brown in the darkness as fish flitted ghost like across the scene.
The beauty of the Cargo Wreck is that there’s literally something new every time you dive it. Each time the ship gets more familiar, the outlines more distinct, but everything else gets more mysterious. Nishan pointed us in the direction of a porthole that ran through the entire ship. Looking through this was almost like looking though an animated version of an old school View-Master as brightly coloured fish swirled and weaved tantalizingly past your circular view. One Oriental Sweetlip that came up to the porthole seemed ludicrously surprised to see me staring back at me, its black and yellow head contrasting with the deep blue behind it.
Apparently Nishan had never seen that porthole despite diving the site hundreds of times. The Cargo never fails to amaze.
Serendib Reef: Bottom time – 58 minutes; Depth – 22.5 meters
Everybody say double digit decompression stop!
The problem with diving Serendib reef is that I tend to get a bit caught up in the wonders of the reef (though this happens to me on Barracuda as well) and the combination of a deep dive beforehand and a conservative computer usually means that I have to spend some close attention to my non-deco time ticking down else I have to hang midwater for an inordinately long time period until my computer decides its safe for me to get to the surface.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) there was a lot to distract me on this dive. We were smack bang in the middle of the coral heads that Serendib was known for. And life simply swarmed. A Spot-Tailed Dartfish immediately caught my attention as it flitted in front of me, sinous and defying a closer look. One of the coral heads harboured an Electric Ray and as usual we all mimed touching it and getting our hair stuck on end. Sometimes I think we collectively have a bit too much nitrogen in our system.
This suspicion was further heightened when the sand winked at me as I swam over it. Having never had sand wink at me I decided in the interests of maintaining my sanity to take a closer look. At first look, the sand remained defiantly stationary, white with small black speckles. Then just as I started harbouring thoughts of aborting the dive due to pending lunacy, the sand winked again. I exhaled and sank to within inches of the cheeky sand spot to try and figure out what was going on at which stage the sand got up, dusted itself vigorously and swam off. The mystery had been solved and I excitedly beckoned the other divers over to take a look at the perfectly camouflaged Flathead, which had no designs on affecting my sanity and instead had simply been lying there waiting for dinner to approach.
Patting myself on the back for my observational skills, which incidently is tough when wearing full Scuba gear, I returned to the more familiar territory of the Oriental Sweetlips and the Sandperches to enjoy the rest of my dive on an aptly named dive site.