Friday, April 24, 2009

April 18, 2009 - Dibba Rock, from Freestyle Divers

I haven't been to Dibba Rock all year. Until the red tide hit, this was a really hopping place with lots of sharks on every dive. I would likely have dived this site both days using Freestyle divers but they managed to get themselves challenged by the UAE coast guard midweek and their boats were banned from south of the border until they upgraded their boat licenses to commercial ones.

We had seen them the day before at Dibba Oman harbor, heading up for overnight camping at Hablain in Musandam. They were operational up there, but when I visited their shop on Saturday, there was no one around.

Vance's logged Dive #870

I kitted up on their veranda and waddled down their boat ramp to shore dive Dibba Rock. It's a tedious 20 min swim out. There was a bit of algae in the water but not that bad; Dibba was often cloudy even before the tide hit. There were lots of cuttlefish and goatfish around - it seemed that anything that was already brown survived the brown water ok ;-) The raspberry coral was no longer pink in color but the terrain was unmistakable and there were animals living on it, esp the kind that clicks into its tiny shell when big things approach so the reef still winks at you. I spotted a few baraccuda overhead, a healthy sign, and YESSSS! a couple of devil rays traveled past near where the anchor is embedded in the coral a little southeast of the rock. That's where I saw the few colorful fish I spotted that morning, blue and yellow striped fusiliers, and some sergeant majors. There were also some jacks in this area, a school of nice sized ones. Here the clicking on the reef picked up noticeably as well.

But on the rest of the reef, there seemed to be an absence of the kind of fishes that school atop the coral, no parrots or snappers. The site seemed overall brown and drab. I saw no sharks or turtles (though there were some turtles nearer shore at Royal Beach). On the way back south heading along the bottom toward Freestyle I startled a big bull ray. It was much easier to swim back down there than it was swimming outbound on the surface.

All in all, a hopeful report. If the red tide stays a way for a while, this reef should bounce back!

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