Top 10 Memorable Ocean Experiences of 2011: No. 01 – Swimming with a Flatworm

It’s 2012 and I’m looking back on a 100 dives in 2011 and 200 since I started diving way back in 2009. Since this was my first full year of diving with somewhat reasonable dive skills and a camera, I figured I would put down some of the most memorable dives/events that I have had the privilege of experiencing during the season.

Of course a lot has happened so expect a multi-part post with the events in no particular order of significance.

I will start of with a characteristically geeky event, my brief if surprising swim with Thysanozoon nigropapillosum which rather less jawbreakingly is known as a Polyclad flatworm. Usually you see these vivid black and yellow flatworms innocuously sitting on the rocks on shallow reefs such as Palagalla so I have come to associate them with brown, murky water and silty dive sites. I did see one launch itself for a brief swim, undulating gracefully through the water so I knew that they were quite mobile as well.

Thysanozoon nigropapillosum sitting pretty on a reef, confident that no-one is going to try and pronounce its name.

The fateful dive was just like any other on the Taprobane east Wreck, a long boat ride with the fresh sea air waking you up from a groggy early morning start. Anchoring onto the wreck we dropped down quickly to the site. Being at 30m and a flat profile we didn’t have much time until our bottom time was used up so I moved away from the rest, looking around at the bright corals and dazzling fish, eager to try out the relatively new camera.

As I swam over the main section of the boat, the hollowed ribcage of the wreck encrusted in bright colours, a spark of movement caught my eye. Glancing down I was…taken aback would be a good word to use I guess. Of all the most incongruous things to see on this site, it was one of these flatworms swimming along with me just skimming the wreck. I have never before or since seen a flatworm on such a deep site (but then we know so little about these sites that’s not saying much) so was flabbergasted.

I realized a bit too late that this was a superb photo opportunity and fumbling with the unfamiliar controls I tried to take a picture. I’m not sure if it sensed me somehow but the flatworm promptly did a nose dive with me rapidly following it. The flatworm swam down through the wreck onto the white sand while I tried to take as many pictures, sticking my hand down through the twisted metal as far as I could.

The flatworm comes in to land

This is unfortunately the only semi-decent photo I managed to take which was an inevitable back shot, quite dark and required a fair amount of photo shop to salvage.

The memory was quite memorable though, looking down and seeing the flatworm swimming along, black and gold against the coral encrusted wreck. Beautiful and completely unexpected.

1 comment:

GG said...

"Thysanozoon nigropapillosum sitting pretty on a reef, confident that no-one is going to try and pronounce its name."