Friday, 26 October 2012

Arrived in Maldivean paradise again

Pixy Hawkfish, Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus
The direct flight from Gatwick on Wednesday evening went well. I was glad to have booked into the Aspire Lounge at Gatwick for an extra £15 when I booked the car park. The flight arrived early at Male airport, 9:10am Thursday, but there was a horrendous queue at immigration due to fingerprint machines which have been implemented recently – it took me 75 minutes to get through. I was welcomed at Bandos, and quickly registered at the dive shop and joined Bill, Adel, Abdulla, Lewis and Clare on the afternoon dive boat.

The dive at Gowagithi Thila was an excellent start – a favourite shallow reef with plenty of caves round the thilla (a submerged reef) and lots of coral bommies (small patch reefs in column form) near the surface top. I saw lots of big moray eels. Bill and I found a huge stingray twice during the dive.
dive briefing by Fayaz
Abdulla and Featherstar, Oxycomanthus bennetti 
Banded Coral Shrimp, Stenopus hispidus
These cleaner shrimps are often seen climbing over moray eels eating the parasites.
Black-blotched Stingray, Taeniura meyeni
He didn't hang around once he saw me

Blue-faced Angelfish, Pomacanthus xanthometopon
Angelfish are difficult to photograph as they, like most fish, are not keen on staying still and they have to be pursued and shot as moving targets. I used compact cameras in housings (Canons: G9 for most of my shots, and a backup SD850). I shot Auto, Underwater mode and Macro with flash on most of the time. The compacts take about a second to autofocus so I have to anticipate how the fish will look a second after I press the button - I get it wrong most of the time! The moray eels open and close their mouths to move water over their gills, so it's a game anticipating when the mouth will be open, which is what I need in an eel shot.
Giant Moray, Gymnothorax javanicus
Banded Coral Shrimp can be seen cleaning the moray
Giant Moray, Gymnothorax javanicus
 and soft coral
Guinea fowl Pufferfish, Arothron meleagris
Maldive Anemonefish, Amphipriion nigripes on anemone
Maldive Anemonefish, Amphipriion nigripes on anemone
Maldive Anemonefish, Amphipriion nigripes on anemone
Sea fan
Smallscale Scorpionfish, Scorpaenopsis oxycephala
The spines of the Scorpionfish are poisonous, but not usually deadly to divers! Consequently this fish stays where it is and moves for no-one. It is often mistaken for a Stonefish, whose venom is considerably more toxic. My rule for new divers is, if you can see it when its not moving, then its probably not a stonefish!
Whitetip Soldierfish, Myripristis vittata
These fish congregate in large shoals under overhangs. Overhangs indicate where the sea level was in the past as they are formed by wave action.
Yellowmargin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus
For the night dive we visited Feydhoo Caves and this was the best dive I have ever had at this site due to the lack of current. There were plenty of Greencheek Parrotfish resting in overhangs.
dive briefing by Hassan Ali
Featherstar (Stephanometra sp)
Greencheek Parrotfish, Scarus prasiognathus
Parrot fish are easier to photograph at night as they sleep on the reef, under coral heads and overhangs.
Greencheek Parrotfish, Scarus prasiognathus
Greencheek Parrotfish, Scarus prasiognathus
Greencheek Parrotfish, Scarus prasiognathus
Horny coral
Yellow Boxfish, Ostracion cubicus
Boxfish are also known as Trunkfish.
Darkspotted Moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus
The photos take too long to load here so I shall put up one image per dive and load the rest after I return. 
Latest note: I will upload the images once I have identified the species for each dive.

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