Saturday, August 5, 2017

Whale sharks are back, and leopard sharks and rays in the Daymaniyat Islands,

Logged dives #1556-1559

Friday and Saturday, August 4-5, 2017

Summer time in the Arabian peninsula and you could say the livin' is easy, except it's so darned hot out. But in such conditions one obvious solution is to take advantage of two facts. One is that a peninsula is surrounded by water 25 degrees cooler than its adjacent land  mass, and the other is that hotels in the region offer bargain prices to attract customers during what here is their off season. So it was that on Thursday after work Bobbi and I packed our dive gear into our car and drove over the border to Sohar and then took the road east as far as Mussanah, about halfway to Muscat, where we checked into the Millennium Resort Hotel there, and where there is an excellent dive center, SeaOman, which has boats with engines powerful enough to get us to the westernmost Daymaniyat Islands in a little over an hour.

Our trip on Friday Aug 4 took us a bit longer than an hour because whale sharks  were spotted en route, so Richard, the manager of SeaOman, stopped the boat and let us scramble overboard to swim with them.


Coral Garden off Jun Island and Doc's Wall off Little Jun

Once we'd enjoyed the whale sharks, we motored along past Sira and Jun islands to a site off Little Jun called Doc's wall. This can be a productive site for leopard sharks, who like to rest in the shadow of the schooling yellow snapper fish, so when you see those, you swim through them and look in the sand. This has been my experience before, but not today. Visibility was not particularly good, and we saw little to impress us apart from schools of fusiliers and grey and honeycombed morays.

However, on the second dive, visibility still poor, our dive guide Saeed started banging his tank. When we found  him just out of view in the murky water, he showed us a large leopard shark resting at an unusual angle on the reef. Saeed was leading an open water diver named Marco, but because of the poor vis all the buddy teams as they entered the water had moved off separately, out of sight of one another, so only Saeed, Marco, and Bobbi and I saw this particular leopard shark.

Bobbi and I continued left around Sira Island but where we came to some boulders just off the reef we were supposed to keep on our left, I led us over to explore the boulders to the right, and I found more of them in a northeast direction, pretty, but not much of note, until we had rounded the end of them and were tracking back to the southwest, where we came upon a black marble ray. We went around him without disturbing him.

I didn't get pictures of any of our second dive because one of my GoPros had flooded our last dive with Nomad Ocean Adventures, and so I was using just my Hero 3, so I had brought a charger on the boat to charge it between dives. Everyone was kitting up quickly and going in off the back of the boat as I unplugged the charger and put the GoPro back in its case and attached it to my BCD. But the charge light refused to go off, and in that state the camera would not function, would not switch on. I needed to get in the water, no delays allowed as the boat held its position in the surge near the rocky outcrop, so I hoped the charge light would go off, maybe when the camera cooled down in the water. But it didn't, the charging light remained on the entire dive, though it was not charging (the power source had been removed) and I couldn't take videos on that dive. Once we were back on the boat, I pried the battery loose from the camera, it powered down and switched off, and when I replaced the battery it switched on normally. That night I charged it normally, and the next day it functioned fine.

So the video above has clips from the dive on Doc's wall, where we saw the interesting black and white nudibranchs on the top at 5 meters, and then clips from out first dive Saturday on Coral Garden, along the northeast corner of Jun Island. Once you arrive at the eastern point you have the option of continuing on around Jun Island, or heading east across the sand to come onto Little Jun after about 5 minutes of finning and 20 bar less in your tank than you started the trek with, so it's possibly not worth it, but it was on the other side that I saw and filmed the feathertail ray as I surprised him in the sand.

Creatures in the video above: 
The two whale sharks we snorkeled with before our dives, and then a scorpion fish, several gray and honeycomb morays, a spiny rock lobster, the feathertail ray on the approach to Little Jun, schools of fusiliers on Doc's wall, and a black and white nudibranch on the top of the wall.

The Mousetrap between Sira and Jun islands



Our last dive on Saturday was on the Mousetrap reef between Sira and Jun Islands. We encountered a huge black ray early in the dive and then came on a smaller marble ray, both of whom entertained us with ripple effects. While some of our group were looking for small stuff, and finding it in the anenomes and on the rocks, Bobbi and I followed the guide Saeed, who was leading a couple of young shebaab on a mission which I presumed was to find a resting leopard shark. He succeeded and this time my camera was working, so we maneuvered about the shark, but left it undisturbed until the other divers arrived with their array of floodlights and then the shark took off and headed up  and over the reef at the top of the wall. We found numerous nudibranchs and anemone shrimp, and we finished the dive with a turtle that almost kissed Nicki. This was our most lovely dive of the weekend despite poor vis, a great end to our  2-day, 4-dive weekend.

This map of our dive locations is from http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/arabian-sea/oman-diving.html



You can find  this map at this URL: http://www.scubatravel.co.uk/arabian-sea/omanmapw.jpg

We were diving this weekend with SeaOman from Millennium Resort Mussanah, Oman
http://seaoman.com/activities/dive/


The divers in our group were myself, Nicki Blower, Peter Mainka, Philippe Lecompte, Eric Courtonne, and my favorite dive buddy Bobbi Stevens

GoPro videography was by Vance Stevens
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor #64181

For best results, view these videos using highest HD setting on YouTube