Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The sunrise catches us sailing toward Wolf island.

The boat is tilted on its side throughout the night long trip. I asked the crewman and they say that the north-eastern wind is pushing the ship from its right side. This was a bit scary, but eventually I got used to it.

As we were getting close to the Wolf island, we can see the outline of the island and the famous “elephant rock” to its side.

Once we are close, we do a briefing and get ready to dive. As part of the preparations for dives in stronger currents we get two devices. The first is a whistle that we can use to announce our positions. The second is a more complex GPS device that can transmit our coordinates and also let us communicate with the ship. William teaches us how to operate it, but stresses that so far no one reached a situation where they needed to use it, and that he would work hard to make it stay that way.

Dive #1 Shark Bay

The plan of this dive was simple. We dive down to a rocky shelf on the side of the island and sit on it to watch the wildlife go by in the current. 

We get into the water, and current is not as bad as I feared. We go a bit around the rocks and watch the local fish. I am having trouble with my camera, as the zoom gear I installed is transparent, and reflects the flash on the dome port. All flash photography in this dive must be very low level…

Continuing along the shelf we reach a point with stronger current. Out on the blue across from there are many feeding fish. A couple of Jacks do a fly by next to us.

And then, we see the first hammerheads. Most of them are too far in the water and we see their silhouettes. Few, however, do close passes, and we get a chance for closer examination.

William takes further along the rock shelf. Suddenly he points forward, and after few seconds I spot a large eagle ray going toward us and slowly position myself to capture as it approaches.

I manage to get few shots of it, and then several photographers run over toward the poor animal. It of course took off and left us. I am frustrated as to both the lack of collegiality, as I would not get into another photographer’s field of view, and also the lack of appreciation how to photograph animals, you can’t rush in, but need to give them chance to get comfortable with your presence.

We return from the dive. I replace the zoom gear with ones that work well with the flash. Now I have time to relax. Going up to the deck, we find that we have visitors. A row of boobies are sitting on deck rail and enjoying the perch. They seem to be juvenile red-footed boobies.

There is a lot of give and take between the birds. They fight each other for position on the rail, even though the other side is completely vacant. When one attempts to land on the rail the others try to stop it with their wings and beaks. 

We get a lot of action from the birds. They allow me to come closer and get close portraits. 

They even allow the brave to come sit next to them. 

Shlomo breaks the ice with the birds

Shmulik and Tamar posing for a photo

The roof above the Jacuzzi is also crowded with birds. These even allow me to get closer. 


Dive #2 Landslide

This dive site “around the corner” from our previous dive site. The plan is the same, go down, watch fish, go up.

As we enter the water, I encounter a small group (school?) of barracuda.

We perch on the rocks for a while, and there are many sharks out of photography range (very annoying). William sends on a slow drift above the rocks. 

Toward the end of the dive, we go into the blue and float with the fish. Suddenly a huge school of smallish tuna engulfs us. The mass of fish is impressive and makes the whole scene flow around us. I just can’t get enough of the view.

We slowly ascend and finish dive.

We have lunch, and then rest a bit. And then go diving again.

Dive #3 Shark Bay

We return to Shark Bay. Now the current is stronger than in the morning.

As we enter the water, a large turtle passes above us. The turtle is surrounded by several large silvery fish with a trapezoid shape that seem to keep “rubbing” themselves on its shell. I am not sure if the turtle shell allows them to get rid of parasites, or whether they are eating algae off the shell. The whole situation is bizarre. This happens on the other side of the group, and I decide not to chase the other photographers that go after the turtles. I reason that we will see more turtles in this trip. And indeed we do.

We settle down on the rocks, and soon after see a huge school of hammerheads passing by in the blue. They move in slow almost lazy undulations through the water.

This impressive procession continues for several long minutes until the last one disappears from our sight. 

I watch the blue water and the fish for few minutes, and then decide to try photographing some of the local fish. There is a striking puffer fish who is polka dotted white on black. There is the trumpetfish with the weird yellow tail. And there are lots of morey eels. 

As I try to catch these, William catches me all excited and points to a rock. I see Robert on the other side of the rock with a camera facing in my direction. I am not sure if William wants me to be in the picture or whether I am disturbing something Robert is trying to photograph. William keeps pointing, and I then I see the large scorpion fish sitting on the rock. It is of impressive size, and since the puffer I was trying to follow is gone by now, I go and take a picture. 

Big scorpion fish with Ilan in the background

I see a turtle from the start of the dive (or another one with similar entourage) in the blue. I go forward toward it, and almost run head on into a trumpetfish (of a species similar to the ones I am used to from Eilat).

The turtle eludes me again, and instead I focus on a nice group of fish that pose for us. 

My air is running low, and I signal that I am starting to ascend. The rest of the group is fascinated by something below, but I can’t see what. I encounter a group of silvery fish, similar to the ones following the turtle.

As I slowly go up and maintain a shallow depth for a safety stop, I enjoy the feeling of quietly bobbing the water. 

I am almost at the end of the safety stop, and suddenly I see the famous turtle swimming slowly toward me. Finally, I manage to get a proper picture of it, although the entourage is not tightly around it as the first glimpse.

We get back on deck, get out of the equipment and dry down. William announces that since it is almost sundown, we will not manage to get a fourth dive today.

I climb up to the upper deck and immerse myself in the Jacuzzi with Tamar and Smulik. We drink beer and enjoy the bubbling water. This is great way to finish the day.

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