Sunday 1st June 2014
I was stoked to have gotten a last minute spot on the boat today with Nick K, Nick R and Mark S doing their TDI Advanced Wreck course with Darren M. I planned on doing two solo dives and with talk of the visibility being fantastic, I wanted to get some wide angle shots of the outside of the wreck. I certainly wanted to make up for not getting any footage yesterday when I had my macro lens on my camera.
I descended down to the deck and set my white balance and within seconds was greeted by a huge school of Kingfish that were rather friendly and came directly towards me again and again, darting in quite fast.
I descended down the Port side of the wreck to the bottom. I wanted to look for the Giant Grouper which are usually hanging out wide East of the Bow. I followed the rope out wide but couldn’t find anything so took some wide angle shots here of the wreck. Kingfish were everywhere, and scratching themselves on the sandy bottom.
I circumnavigated the wreck on the bottom taking some footage and waving to the Dive Dive Dive boys until I reached the Stern where all the action was! Here underneath was a Bait ball trapped by several different Pelagic species including; both baby and large Snapper, Trevally, Emperor, Kingfish, huge Jewfish, and Cod. It was amazing to hover beside and watch the action unfold as the Bait fish darted all about but were gobbled up by the Pelagics who were showing off their hunting schools. I spent quite a bit of time down here at twenty seven metres and was conscious that it was eating up more gas than I wanted to use on the first dive.
I went wide East of the stern and took some wide shots of the back of the wreck then turned and ascended slowly filming the wreck. Here I saw a beautiful large Lionfish set against some splendid red and orange coral on the wreck. As I ascended I saw a few Eagle Rays and the school of King fish again. I also saw a beautiful Spanish Mackerel which came fairly close, and some Brilliant shiny Silver Trevally which came in to check out my lights.
The dive seemed to go so quickly and before long it was forty five minutes already so as planned I continued to the line and then started my ascent. I was surrounded by large Batfish on the safety stop, with thirty metres of visibility it was a nice view of the wreck from here. I completed a fifty seven minute dive with a maximum depth of twenty seven metres.
For the second dive I knew it would be a short one as I had used a lot more gas staying deep on the first. I decided to go and find the Eagle Rays that Peter G had seen on the first dive. He told me there was a school of them by the stern so I headed to the back of the boat. Here I took some footage of some lovely Moorish Idols, Scorpion fish and Sawtail fish. I also hung out with a Bait ball inside one of the hatches for a while.
I was looking about for the school of Eagle rays, and had found one getting cleaned on the wreck but then I noticed some bodies in the distance. I thought maybe they were dolphins so I swam out North of the wreck for about twenty five metres to see what they were.
As I got closer I thought they were Hammerhead sharks as they seemed to move like them but then two came in close to me and I saw they were a different shark I had never seen before. They were Oceanic Black tip sharks, I later found out, after most of us thought they were Sandbar Whaler sharks and I had found a school of about fifteen of them. Awesome!
As I spun around there was absolutely no-one else to point them out to at the time, so I knew I had to get a video of them. They were very active darting up and down and swimming quite fast they would often come in and out of the blue so I was constantly looking around to find them again.
Problem with such a wide angle lens is it makes even the closest things look far away so even though I did get the footage of a few of them, it would have been better if I was closer. I did contemplate swimming out even wider again but was conscious of getting low on gas, and being by myself and not knowing what kind of Sharks they were, I didn’t think it was that wise to swim out there by myself into a school of them.
I saw a Giant Grouper in the distance with two huge Remoras under it. I swam over but it was skittish and swam away.
As I was getting low on gas I ascended back to the boat completing a thirty one minute dive with a maximum depth of twenty one metres.
When I got back on the boat I was on such a high after such an amazing dive! Some of the other divers told me they spotted a four metre Great White shark! It felt a little daunting thinking I was doing a solo dive whilst a Great White was swimming around, it would have been scary, but exhilarating at the same time to see it.
Peter saw a group of twenty Giant Groupers in the sand just a bit wider about thirty metres North of the middle of the wreck. I was gutted I missed them as that would have been amazing to see, but I can hardly complain as the diving was just so good today.
The other divers saw the Sharks too, and even the boys who were inside the wreck the whole dive doing their course had one come close to them on the safety stop.
I really want to dive there tomorrow, pity someone invented such a thing called work!
Disclaimer: I am a certified Solo diver with SDI and I don’t recommend that Solo diving be done without the right qualification/experience and redundancies.