After last week’s non-dive it was good to get back in the water on Friday. We took the boat in reasonably calm seas out to the Jumbo and the Neptune. The Jumbo is a cargo vessel now lying on its port side in about 23m of water. It was sunk deliberately as an artificial reef for the benefit of local fishermen. It was known to exist for a long time but no-one knew the location until it turned up on a sea-bed survey, a copy of which we had acquired.
Descending the line we saw that the viz was very good – 10 to 15m – which is unusually clear. The second thing we noticed was a large cow-tailed ray that had just emerged from the sand. As we stayed stationary, the ray came towards us and swam between us before disappearing out of sight. The rest of the dive didn’t quite match that but we did come back with another spare anchor which Mike found on the bottom. We were also escorted up the line by some barracuda.
The Neptune is only a few minutes away – in fact both wrecks are served by the same cardinal buoy. It is a barge that was damaged when it collided with a rig (whilst tackling a fire) and it sank whilst under tow back to Sharjah. There used to be some nice swim-throughs towards the stern and there may still be but since our last visit (in November) a section of hull in this area has collapsed. Mike and I were running into deco at this point so we weren’t able to explore further but next time we go there we’ll be able to see what you can or can’t do now. We saw another ray at the start of the dive but this one wasn’t so friendly and promptly swam away.
After last week’s trip over to the east coast, we were back in the Arabian Gulf on Friday. The initial target was the Taha but when we got there we found a boat already moored there and some spear-fishermen on the surface right over the wreck. Deciding to leave them to it, we headed instead to the Pipe Barge which was the closest target we could find on the GPS. There was a boat there too but at least nobody in the water so we were able to get an anchor down. Mike and Derek went down first and came back barely 20 minutes later describing it as the most boring dive in the history of civilization as we know it. “Upturned metal box, no fish at all” was Mike’s succinct comment.
Peter and I decided to give that one a miss so we headed back to the Taha, hoping that the spear-fishermen had gone and indeed they were getting ready to go. This dive was quite a contrast – there were so many fish it was hard to see the ship in some places. Huge shoals of fusiliers and snappers were on the wreck which was quite a sight. There were also barracuda circling the line on the way up.
While we were being entertained by the fish under the water, Mike and Derek had a visitor – a young cormorant that took a fancy to the boat. Later on when they surfaced from their own dive, the bird re-appeared to greet them taking a peck or two at Derek but obviously finding him not as tasty as all that.
For the second dive we headed for Karen’s dhow which is on the way home. Perhaps we had been spoilt by all the fish on the Taha, but the dhow didn’t seem quite as full of life as normal. It was also noticeably cooler so we cut the dive short and headed home. A couple of photos are attached.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.