On our return from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Doha, Bobbi and I brought our 8-year old granddaughter Gwenny home with us from Doha on our last plane ride and enjoyed her company in Al Ain for a few days. We had the crazy idea she might like to learn how to snorkel so we booked a room at Sandy Beach Motel on the east coast UAE, which has an island you can walk to at low tide and where you can snorkel and see sharks if you are lucky. Gwenny seemed keen to learn (we didn't mention the sharks), and Bobbi went out and bought her a small mask and snorkel. We managed to get a room before the new year's weekend rush for a reasonable weekday price. The hotel is built in such a way that you can't get on the beach where you can walk to the island unless you stay at the hotel, so we were all looking forward to the getaway.
As it turned out, Gwenny is still a little small for the equipment we got her and she wasn't able to get her head in the water and mouth around the snorkel. Plus the water temperature had just dropped to 23 degrees, and it was too chilly in the water for sustained practice, so we gave up on that idea for a couple of years. We'll send the snorkel and fins home with her when she goes in hopes that she'll get some practice in swimming pools in Doha, and when she's ready we can show her some real fish, and even teach her diving when she wants to learn.
Meanwhile as long as I was in the neighborhood, I got in touch with Nomad, Fujairah and arranged to come down Thursday and dive Dibba Rock. They had some technical divers coming in the morning so they scheduled me for an afternoon dive, but later that morning they got back to me and said the technical divers weren't coming because of the fog on the road around Dubai, and the boat was waiting there just for me.
I was the only diver booked in that day. Bobbi would be hanging out on the beach with Gwenny, so I didn't even have a buddy. So Kyle Schoonraad (he and his lady Jessica are the pros there) offered to accompany me on the dive.
It was a real treat having Kyle to show me the rock from his experienced perspective. He did it about the way I would have, starting at the Aquarium, which was teeming with jacks and snappers, and moving deeper to the sand at 10-12 meters, where there were more jacks and a big school of barracuda. On the way there, at 55 seconds into the video I was taking, we passed over a torpedo ray which both of us missed. It was interesting coming on that in the video, like huh? rewind ... yep that was a torpedo ray right there, and we both headed right over it.
Within minutes of passing the barracudas Kyle excitedly pointed up and started finning madly for the surface. He looked back at me and made pointy horn signs either side of his head, obviously meaning devil rays. He indicated there were 9 or a dozen of them. I couldn't see them, vis was too poor. Happens; so many times I have seen sharks around there, pointed ahead, and people just behind me couldn't see them, because the sharks vanished quickly, vis was poor, and the divers were just that critical two meters further back.
We continued along the back of the rock to the gap where Kyle queried me through his bubbles which way we should go. I wanted to see his choice, so I bubbled him back to go ahead. He led up the gap, where there was fortunately no current, so we could follow the top crest into a nice long wedge and come out on the drop off to the sand where the rays were.
You can see the rest in the video. We found two rays and got decent video. About that time Kyle went into another state where he was raving about devil rays and pointing up ahead, so this time I took video the way he was pointing so I could show him later there was nothing there, all in his head :-)
Back on the surface, the boatman told us the rays had been jumping out of the water while he was waiting for us, so I guess he was imagining them as well.
Anyway, great dive, and great diving with Kyle as his only diver on that day.