All photographs are the original work of Nishan Perera, and cannot be used without the written consent of the photographer. Unauthorized use of images is a violation of intellectual property rights and may be subject to legal action.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dhigu Thila, Maldives

Dhigu Thila is a narrow submerged ridge located on the eastern side of Baa Atoll in the Maldives. Dhigu means long in Divehi, the local language, and is an apt name for this reef. Although many of the corals on the shallow reef top are dead, undoubtedly as a result of coral bleaching, there is a profusion of small fish such as anthias and damselfish. The sides of the reef drop away sharply to a sandy floor at a depth of around 35m, where resting white tip reef sharks can sometimes be seen. The steep reef walls have sea fans, black corals and an extensive labyrinth of caves and ledges that provide shelter to larger fish such as moray eels and groupers. At dusk, schools of feeding trevally pass over the reef, picking at smaller fish in dazzling displays of speed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

West coast season begins!

The winds have abated giving us flat seas on the west coast of Sri Lanka, but the rains have persisted into late November. Visibility is still low on inshore reefs but there's still plenty to see. The nutrients have been attracting large schools of fish, and as usual the small critters are out in their numbers. This is the perfect time to get out the macro lens as we wait for better visibility and great dives in the coming months.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fish doctor

A cleaner wrasse attends to an adult grey sweetlips at a cleaning station at Hani Faru in Maldives. During the day this cleaning station is frequented by mantas that come into the small bay to feed. But during dusk once the celebrities depart, its the turn of all the other regular citizens of the area. When a fish approaches a known cleaning station, cleaner wrasses will get to work grooming their 'clients', picking away at dead skin and removing pesky parasites. And unlike human doctors or salons the only payment they ask for is a tasty snack! Check out a previous post of a moray eel being cleaned in Negombo, Sri Lanka

Friday, August 13, 2010

Manta madness

Its 10am on August 5th, Hani Faru, South Malhosmadhulu Atoll, Maldives. A southwesterly wind blows across turquoise seas on a clear sunny morning, and divers and snorkelers from around the world have gathered in anticipation of something special. Its been nearly two months since my last dive and I'm as eager as a first time snorkeler on a tropical vacation. Two mantas are feeding in the bay, but its a relatively quite morning so far. Well at least by Maldives standards! Then a few more mantas appear, and as more plankton gets swept into the small shallow bay a few more appear, until we are surrounded by around 25 large manta rays. Oblivious to the divers the large rays jostle with each other, sometimes bumping into divers as they twist and turn in a feeding frenzy. Seven to ten mantas swim behind each other forming 'manta trains' with their cephalic fins extended in order to channel plankton rich water into their large mouths. It was magical. It was madness. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Help save manta rays and sharks. Say no to shark fin soup, shark meat, manta ray meat and stingrays. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Boiler Wreck

The 'Boiler Wreck' is in fact the wreckage of two separate ships whose identity remains unknown, possibly because very little effort has been made to investigate them. With the aura of the HMS Hermes, all other wrecks around Batticaloa are easily overlooked by most divers. But this is a great dive site with large boilers from the steam driven engines, propellors and scattered bits of wrecked metal overgrown in coral. The wrecks are located just south of the Kalladi lighthouse, and sit on the shallow reef running parallel to the shore. Both the wreck and the reef provide a habitat for  a variety of hard corals and interesting fish and macro life. A resident school of yellow lined goatfish hang out near the bow while colorful tropicals such as angelfish and butterflyfish glide among the corals. Look closely and you will find tiny porcelain crabs within the coral heads and colorful nudibranchs among the rubble. Lizardfish, sand perches, gobies and blennies compete for attention from critter fans. Most of the reef and wreck lies within a depth range of 5-8m, with a maximum depth of only 10m. So this is an ideal site for new divers to explore an interesting wreck or for experienced divers to off gas after diving the Hermes or deeper reefs further offshore.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Batticaloa Blues

After a two year break I returned to the wreck of the 'HMS Hermes' off Batticaloa. Calm seas and an absence of any wind foretold of good diving conditions, and good conditions they were for sure. Almost no currents and gin clear blue water bathed in sunlight. Drifting in open water felt like being an astronaut in space with nothing below, around or above other than vast blue emptiness and shafts of light that seemed to penetrate as deep as my eyes could see. The ocean had given me a "moment". Nirvana could surely not be much better than this!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marvels of evolution!

Sharks are one of the great successes of evolution on earth. A basic design so good its remained unchanged for millions of years. Ruthlessly persecuted by humans due to a lack of understanding and indiscriminately slaughtered to satisfy the growing need of people craving shark fin soup these beautiful creatures are now a rare sight in most waters. Shark numbers in Sri Lanka have declined drastically and now they can only be seen in a few places around our coast. Black tip reef sharks such as this can still be seen in places such as Pigeon Island and Bar Reef, but like many other species their future remains uncertain. In his book "Reefs of Taprobane" Arthur C. Clarke states that in his first dive in Sri Lanka he got better pictures of sharks than in two years on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. A sharp contrast to the present day, where in most parts of Sri Lanka, seeing sharks is as rare as seeing a mermaid!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pigeon Island

Healthy coral reefs abound in the shallow waters around Pigeon Island in Trincomalee. Once devastated by a Crown of Thorns starfish infestation these reefs have now recovered completely. But this balance is now being threatened by an increasing number of human activities. Despite being declared a National Park in 2003 fishing including the use of dynamite is still openly carried out on these reefs. Large numbers of visitors are also polluting the island, walking on the reef and removing corals as souvenirs. Still beautiful, this enchanting yet fragile paradise is threatened once again. As is often the case in Sri Lanka, action is lacking from those in charge and only time will decide how long paradise lasts..........but hopefully the future will hold more than a few old photographs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Goatfish Pyramid

Yellow striped goatfish are common, nocturnally active reef fishes found on many Indo-Pacific reefs. During the day they tend to form small schools, sheltering among reefs and wrecks before dispersing across reef flats at night in search of invertebrates. At times they may form large mixed species schools that include similarly patterned blue striped snappers. This small group formed a loose pyramid, creating a sharp contrast against the deep blue waters and providing a great photo opportunity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Where angels dwell

The ancient Greeks referred to Sri Lanka as Taprobane, meaning "garden of delights". Lying on white coral sand on the edge of Taprobane East reef this small wreck is a veritable garden of delights covered in soft corals. The wreck is also home to a multitude of fish life from thousands of glassfish that shelter among the tangled metal to schooling snappers, angelfish, butterflyfish, groupers and even a large humphead wrasse. Far from the shores of Colombo, clear water is the norm here with average visibility around 25m during the calm season. If angels lived underwater they would surely call this home. Maybe the mermaids do..............

Monday, March 22, 2010

Batman returns

A common inhabitant of reefs and wrecks, batfish often hang out in small groups, although large schools numbering in the hundreds can also be found. Most batfish can be seen swimming above open bottom and this species, the longfin batfish (Platax teira) is often found on wrecks and clear water reefs in Sri Lanka. They usually feed on small invertebrates such as juvenile shrimps and zooplankton.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Macro magic: colorful, curious critters

Overlooked, ignored and unappreciated its the small critters that actually make a coral reef tick. More abundant than many other species, cryptic fish such as gobies, blennies and sandperches scurry around the seafloor in their daily routines completely ignored by most divers. Small invertebrates such as nudibranchs are also among the most colorful reef species despite their small size. To really appreciate a coral reef you need to get up close and personal with its smaller residents. So the next time your diving, stop, look and meet all the neighbors!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tales from a rainbow sea: Part II "Fish Tales"

Large schools of fish and pelagics are the highlights of Maldivian diving and schools of yellow snappers, red tooth triggerfish and fusiliers numbering in their thousands, reef sharks, napolean wrasses and manta rays were regular features at many dive sites. The Maldives are surely some of the worlds most fish filled waters!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tales from a rainbow sea: Part I "Reefscapes"

Maldives Trip Report, January 30th-February 6th 2010:

Despite rough weather and at times poor visibility we are back after a fantastic week in the Maldives aboard the charter boat Noah. Ten friends, a boat to ourselves and our own itinerary amid picture postcard islands and turquoise seas teeming with marine life. Starting in Male' we endure a rough crossing through the Ariadhoo Channel and head to the northern part of Ari Atoll. At Orimas Thila, Fish Head, Maaga Reef, Ellaidhoo, Halaveli, Donkalu Thila and Maalhos Thila we encounter grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, manta rays, napolean wrasses, dogtooth tuna, giant trevally, turtles and large schools of reef fish that epitomize classic Maldivian diving. We even see a couple of sea snakes and a feeding manta on a night dive before crossing to Rasdhoo Atoll for dusk and dawn dives at Rasdhoo Madivaru in search of hammerhead sharks and other pelagics. Even though the hammers dont show up the dives are great with patrolling grey reef sharks, sleeping white tips, eagle rays and large dog tooth tuna. And finally we return to North Male Atoll, stopping by at Boduhithi Thila for a magical manta experience. Good company and good diving in the enchanting Maldives.

Magical Manta Moments

6th February 2010, 12:30pm: On the way back from Rasdhoo after a 7 day liveaboard cruise we stop at a manta cleaning station near Boduhithi Thila, in North Male' Atoll, for one last magical moment in the Maldives. In only 3-4m of water we encounter nearly a dozen manta rays feeding, playing and being cleaned. Cleaning stations, where large reef fish and pelagic species come to be cleaned by small wrasses and other fishes are one of the many amazing phenomena on coral reefs. Manta rays regularly return to favorite cleaning stations, and with the rays come the divers, eager to experience the magic of swimming with these gentle giants, and to get that one "perfect picture".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A new year and new discoveries

Its been a slow start to the 2009/10 west coast season in Sri Lanka. Bad weather has meant frustrating days on land or tough days out at sea. Coupled with work commitments I have not spent any time updating this blog but its time to start again. A new year brings new discoveries and new adventures!

After waiting for the sea to improve with no success we finally braved the swells to explore a new dive site off Mt. Lavinia. Beneath the angry swells on the surface there is calm as we descend into the unknown depths of the deep blue. At 36m we come to a hard-bottom habitat and there before us is an amazing and beautiful site; a dense forest of gorgonians. Giant sea fans more than 2m across lean into the current like giant dreamcatchers listening to the songs of distant whales and other denizens of the deep. Hundreds of blue triggerfish scuttle across the reef in their funny swimming motions like little pixies dancing in a mystical garden. Our time is short at this depth but we will return.............soon!