Saturday, October 24, 2015

Diving with Jay and Robin Fortin in Daymaniyat islands with Oman Sail, The Wave, Seeb, Oman

My logged dives #1390-93

Oct 23-24 Diving with Jay and Robin Fortin in Daymaniyat islands with Oman Sail, The Wave, Seeb, Oman

Jay had a conference in Dubai at the start of the coming week but flew into Muscat with his wife Robin. Bobbi and I drove down from Al Ain and stayed at an apartment in Al Khod, a bustling and traffic-laden suburb of Seeb that was all desert scrub when we were living there last century and used to make long runs around the camel farms in the area. We all met up at Oman Sail on Friday morning and went diving.

Oman Sail had very personable dive guides so diving with them was a gas but their boats left too late for us to get the sites we wanted to dive since the early birds already had boat-loads of divers on the best sites by the time we arrived. Still diving in Daymaniyats tends to be good no matter where you put in. We saw leopard sharks on both days, plenty of turtles, and  generally had some nice dive with good friends, all of whom have been my students at one time or another.

Friday Oct 23, 2015

Our first morning we set sail from the Wave hoping to get a morning dive in at the Aquarium, but on arrival at the site, we found it crowded with dive boats and our crew decided to take us to the bay at Police Island instead. I'd dived this place with Jay and Robin before; in fact I think they managed to see a leopard shark on one of our dives on the string of sites there that Bobbi and I somehow missed, see

In any event we saw a leopard shark on this dive.

Before setting out that day I had noticed a hiss from one of the second stages on my main regulator so I had gone to a spare reg on my dives that day. This turned out to have consequences for our second dive, which this time was on the Aquarium (the Aquarium tends to be best in the morning light, and after boat loads of divers have been there, the more interesting animals will have gone elsewhere for a while).

The dive guide had briefed me on what to do, descend to the top of the reef, head west, find the trench to the north, and follow it to the wall. We were starting on that plan, under water with me leading, when I realized that my compass was on my main regulator back on the boat. Damn, I had no idea where west was but I'd dived the site before, so I headed down to gradually increasing depths and followed the top of the reef in about 20 meters of water. I wasn't sure where to turn north (or in this case, approximately right) from there but eventually I did that and found the wall. We were drifting happily along that when one diver signaled low on air, so I found a gap to get us back onto the reef top. The trouble was there was not much to see there that we hadn't seen already. I think we were finning a little against the current, a prolonged slog with me hoping to find our way back to the high point of the reef that reaches just a few meters short of the surface. We couldn't see it so I was leading on dead reckoning, trying to head for wherever it seemed to be shallower, not sure of the direction exactly.

In the end we found the Aquarium submerged reef head just after Jay and Robin thought it wise to ascend, and this is where we found most of the honeycomb moray eels that appear in the video.

Saturday Oct 24, 2015

For our first dive on the second day we headed out for Garden of Eden but found it crowded so we took a drop-off on a site I didn't know though the boatmen described it to me quite well. But it was only Bobbi and I and Jay and Robin diving it in two buddy pairs. We were to drop on a wall that we could clearly see under the boat and follow it north and around the corner to the west.  When I got in the water I found the current pushing me west off the wall so I finned to stay in place and when the other divers got in I called for an immediate descent. On my descent I kicked hard to get on the east side of the wall where I reckoned there would be relief from the current. I arrived there to relative tranquility but I was alone. Bobbi appeared some seconds later, having managed to keep up by pulling herself along the top of the reef into the very strong current in order to drop down where I was. We waited there for Jay and Robin but the current had caught them unawares and they did a separate dive heading west from where Bobbi and I were.

I'm not sure what this site was but it should be easily identifiable from my videos. I call it the ghost reef because it had a white apparition of a sting ray living there, without his cow tail, which had been chewed off by some predator. The reef was full of staghorn table coral but a lot of this was covered by a massive ghost net (a ghost net is one that has been left in place by fishermen unable to retrieve it). The Daymaniyats are a marine reserve and fishing is prohibited here, or was, as far as I know. My video documents the damage to the reef this net is doing,

The second dive of the day was much easier. Jay and Robin started with Bobbi and I in calm water and we soon came out on a leopard shark. We saw much more throughout the dive, which ended with Bobbi and I following a large turtle around for several minutes. The video has lengthy perspectives from both Bobbi's camera and mine, but we never get tired of watching these things.

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