Copyright © 2006 -- All Rights Reserved
AN AWE INSPIRING DIVE - It was the last dive day of our ten-night cruise, as late in the afternoon we jumped in at a site enigmatically named "Embudhu Express." I'd not done this dive before, but situated on the outside of the reef on a steep drop off, it appeared to be a limitlessly deep wall. On hitting the water, despite the low light visibility looked quite good - well over 100 feet. Per Salvo's dive briefing, we drifted along with the 1/4 knot current, heading down to our maximum depth of 120 feet. Almost immediately I saw that this would not be just another casual dive.
From their patrol along the drop-off's edge a group of large white tip sharks rose up to greet us, cutting through the current as if it didn't exist. My adrenaline began to pump as, viewed through my camera's viewfinder, one swam directly at me swerving off at the last moment only after I reflexively fired my camera in self-defense. I was momentarily distracted from the sharks as one of our divers started finning frantically further down into the depths, chasing a school of big barracuda into the blackness. Glancing back towards the reef I immediately spied a pair of large hawksbill turtles hovering overhead, as an even larger Napoleon wrasse tracked me with his motile eye. Then a predatory tuna, over four feet long, came down from above and circled around me just beyond arms reach. Tracking with the camera, his silvery head filled the frame just as he opened his jaws wide, showing me his impressive pointy-toothed grin. Click-Flash, my camera fired exactly on queue (for a change).
Only ten minutes into the dive, and already approaching sensory overload, I looked back towards the wall to see our other divemaster, Tim, gesturing frantically above my head. I aimed my camera up towards the sun, just as a big spotted eagle ray passed directly overhead, offering the perfect silhouette shot. At this point, most of my group had drifted on down the wall, chasing pelagic fish that could out-swim them in a heartbeat. I settled down on a deep ledge to catch my breath, and there watched in rapt attention as a school of seven white tips and two even larger gray sharks swam a complicated ballet right in front of me, while a school of eleven eagle rays glided by beneath them.
My dive computers were both sneaking past the caution zone into deco as I reluctantly began to move up into shallower water. But that proved to be no disappointment either. I finished out this memorable dive floating along the reef crest, shooting a colorful rainbow of fishes until I ran out of film. This kind of excitement and beauty is what diving in the Maldives can offer you. It's why I came back for seconds, adding to my knowledge and experience, and why I know that I'll be compelled to return again.
Copyright Ken Knezick, Island Dreams -- All Rights Reserved
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