Dive #36 and #37, diving off Mount Lavinia with Colombo Divers, Boatman Ravinda, Divemaster Jehan and buddy Daniel.
Trug: Bottom time – 36 minutes; Depth – 29.2 meters
It was time for a bit of a change. The Trug was our poison of choice for our next dive, a barge in about 30m of water which due to its relatively small size is sometimes difficult to find in rougher seas. Today was however a flat calm day and Ravinda navigated and hooked onto the wreck without any issues. The water here wasn’t the deep blue that you usually see on the Cargo but had more of a greenish tinge, out of which the wreck appeared, like a spaceship rising out of the depths.
The difference in scale was the first impression I received, almost a tinge of disappointment after being spoilt by the immensity of the Cargo Wreck looming over me on most of my previous dives. I was soon however intrigued by the different spatial look of the wreck, since the boat had sunk upside down the keel rose like an aquatic spaceship out of the green, the twin rudders and giant propellers rising over us.
The Lionfish were the primary attraction on this dive, initially resting bat-like and macabre on the side of the rusted ship. This state of somnambulism however did not last for long. As we rounded the ship and came back along the wreck, the Lionfish had roused themselves and were now awaiting our return, in a neatly arranged line. There was no aggression in their demeanor, more a wary interest in what we were doing on their wreck. As we drifted over the line stretched out incongruously on the sand, they turned as one to look at us, flaring their beautiful red and white fins. We had to keep a close eye for the Lionfish for the rest of the dive as they popped up at the most unexpected places and the last thing you wanted to do was accidentally squash one of them against the wreck, which would probably earn you a stab from their venomous spine which I’m assuming wouldn’t be too pleasant.
As usual I couldn’t take my macro hat off and found a tiny, ethereally pink nudibranch that was moving up the side of the wreck, looking like a centimeter long piece of animated candy floss. Daniel distracted me with some difficulty from the nudi to show me a huge Honeycomb Moray that was gaping at us out of an old tire. Taking a break from the outside of the wreck we swam into the gloomy interior of the ship via the spacious swim though. The experience was eerie to say the least, the almost total darkness enveloping you while glass fish hung motionless in the interior of the wreck, little shards of reflected light in the black. Other fish moved ghostly in the distance and it was hard not to give into some primordial fear of being eaten by a monster of the deep. Of course the reality was that it was much more likely I would be inadvertently stabbed by an affectionate Lionfish so I calmed myself down and swam out of the other side of the ship gracefully bumping my head against the exit as I got distracted by the bubbles steaming out of the side of the ship.
As our time had come to an end we started our ascent amongst a storm of Fusiliers, flashing silver and yellow through the water as they gulped down floating particles in a slight current. Spanish Mackarel swam through the shoals looking for a snack, emenating an aura of power and purpose as they sleekly swam along. The Trug maybe a relatively small wreck, but the wonders on it are immense.
Ten Fathoms: Bottom time – 43 minutes; Depth – 17.2 meters
This was a typically murky dive on one of Colombo’s inner reefs. Bambadahaya as its known locally (Bamba – fathom, Dahaya – ten) proved to be a nudibranch heaven. Initially our attention was taken by a multitude of fish including a shoal of Blue-Lined Snappers and what looked like Jackhandle Barracuda. However the macro soon took over, to Daniel’s amusement as he couldn’t really understand why I was getting so excited about these little wonders. Of course not many people would understand and I barely understand myself but I do pretty much adore these brightly coloured, minute organisms which I consider a reward for being really attentive to your surroundings on a dive.
The warm up for the nudi’s were around seven nudis ranging from Phyllieda ocellata, Chromodoris fidelis and Phyllidiella zeylanica scattered on the reef as we scrutinized every inch. The crème de la crème was however at the end of the dive, out of the brown mucky water emerged a coral pink clam and on that clam was a nudibranch that made me metaphorically rub my eyes (metaphorically since I was wearing a mask). Delicate cerrata, like a multitude of red and yellow fronds covered the nudi as it sat picture perfect on the clam. It was then and there that I decided to empty all my savings accounts and get a camera for the next season, to have missed that shot is something I will regret for some time. The closest I can come to identifying what that nudi looked like was this just with a different colour scheme. I was so fascinated I literally had to be torn away from the nudi, since we had already gone into deco and it was most definitely time to leave.