And so to recent diving. Not too much around here lately but Peter, Connie, Brigitte and I have just returned from the Seychelles which was a very nice trip indeed.
Initially at least, we stayed on Praslin island which involves an hour-long catamaran journey from the main island, Mahé. Perhaps even more than Zanzibar, the lush green forests are a massive contrast to the Emirates. This also meant the humidity was pretty high but we coped with it.
In the morning, we had a 10-minute walk down the beach to Octopus Diving Centre where we were booked in. After establishing our credentials, we got on the boat for a half-hour trip to the first dive site, Whale Rock. We didn’t see any whales but perhaps it wasn’t the season. What we did see were dolphins, above and below the water, hundreds of small eagle rays, turtles and a couple of white-tipped reef sharks. The viz was 15 – 20m and the water was 30°. I can live with this. There isn’t much in the way of coral. The Seychelles are essentially granite outcrops in the Indian Ocean but the fish life was excellent.
The second dive was on a rocky protuberance known as Booby, and yes – this means exactly what you think it does. Maybe it was because the first dive was so good, but I got the impression that this particular booby was sagging a bit. There was a big shoal of Bannerfish half way through but otherwise there was a lot less to look at than at Whale Rock. There was a large moray and a solitary Lionfish which got the dive guide quite excited, but anyone who has dived the Musandam or the Damaniyats would not have that impressed. The Booby perked up, right at the end. On the seabed were a couple of Oriental Flying Gurnards which are as peculiar as the Indian Ocean Walkmen we saw in Zanzibar. These have the same habit of walking across the sand rather than swimming. This also got the dive guide excited, this time I think with good reason.
Day 2 dawned damp and overcast but still warm. This time we headed east to two dives sites known as White Rock and Ave Maria. The first of these was notable for some remora, two of which were attached to a turtle and a third that preferred divers. It followed the group around for half the dive. The second dive was another good one. More turtles, eagle rays and a couple of Cowtail Rays. There were also some more morays and right at the end some junior morays who looked as though they were yet to leave the nest. I don’t know enough about the life-cycle of morays to know whether this was the case.
Day 3 was still damp but no problem. The last two dives were on Channel Rock and Low Channel Rock, situated about half way between Praslin and the neighboring island of La Digue. These were nice because they filled in the missing ingredients – creatures we’d been told to expect but had yet to see. These included several large Napoleon wrasse, some lobsters and four or five octopuses.
Above are a couple of photos but you may detect the hand of the non-expert photographer (me).
That was about it for the diving but there was still time for a couple of days each on La Digue and Mahé. Beautiful islands both, though very different. The most notable thing was the giant tortoises (pronounced tor-TOY-zez), the largest of which may be 100 – 150 years old. Interesting to think that the oldest of them were born when Victoria was Queen of Britain, Napoleon was Emperor of France, Bismarck was Chancellor of Germany and the Romanovs still ruled Russia.
And finally: 406 exiles, Wimbledon branch, also known as Mike, Zulfa and Robin. Nice to see them looking well in pictures sent to our private mail blog; but is that tea they’re drinking?
Sharjah Branch wishes them well and hope to see them again in the future.
Ian Hussey and Dive Member Contributions.