Top 10 Memorable Ocean Experiences of 2011: No. 05 – When Everything Goes Right

It was an early start for ADV (the famous whale researcher) and me. 7.45am and the boat was launched smoothly onto a flat sea. There being just the two of us and Uncle Sumathi in the boat we flew out to sea coasting over the calm waters and arriving at the Taprobane East wreck in a record 45 minutes.

I remember that this was one of the first dives where I navigated solo (with a  GPS of course) to the wreck so was a bit nervous about locating the wreck and hooking it. The first time we weren’t lucky so we dutifully pulled it up and tried again. Second time lucky of course and the anchor was firm. As we descended down the line, the shape of the wreck loomed out of the blue, definite success.

The bright sunlight and clear water made for a kaleidoscopic dive, the soft coral shades of pink, orange and red with the glassfish shimmering over them. A giant moray, green and huge lay stretched out on part of the wreck gaping as we passed over it, giving it a respective distance. The white sand sparkled and then clouded as a shoal of trevalley nosed around digging for food. All of a sudden the shoal, about 30 in number gave up digging in the sand and swam around us. They circled us, swimming round and round in a tight circle with their sleek forms glinting. I would have hated to be a bait fish surrounded by them as the lazy power which with they swam gave hints of the acceleration they could be capable off. Finally they got bored of us and moved back to foraging.

As we rounded the side of the wreck an immense thumping sound could be heard. A tug boat nearby had started its engine and the sound reverberated through the water like a giant tribal drum. With this backdrop a shoal of batfish suddenly appeared, silhouetted in the sun and swimming towards us, almost seeming to swim to the tune of the drum. The shoal swims past us, a tiny golden trevalley rather incongruously leading the fish at the front. Truly a magical moment.

Time was up however and we had to ascend. Uncle Sumathi, his wizened kindly face and bright red shirt apparently suspended in gin clear water as he looked down at us over the side of the boat. Starting back to shore things got even better. A flying fish breaks the surface, whizzing over the flat sea as a barracuda breaches after it. The flying fish goes far but the barracuda, unsuccessful flops down into the sea.

The icing on the cake was a pod of feeding dolphins breaking the surface. We quietly slip into the water and move towards them hoping they will swim past us. We can see them at the water level, breaching and breathing as they hunt. But they stay tantalizingly out of sight and we are left to enjoy the warm Indian Ocean, floating carefree kilometers from shore yet still at home.

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