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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Off the beaten path in Kayankerni

Large areas in eastern Sri Lanka remained inaccessible to outsiders for many years. Ravaged by war for decades the east coast is now safe and open to tourists. And with peace, the beauty of this area is making the news instead of tales of darkness and suffering. Shallow sunlit coral gardens with healthy corals and colorful reef fish are sure to put a smile on even the most jaded diver.  Kayankerni is a small, relatively unknown village north of Passikudah, that has some of the healthiest fringing coral reefs in Sri Lanka. Hopefully they will not be overexploited by the growing fishing and tourism industries like in other parts of Sri Lanka. Despite its negatives, the war ensured that many coral reefs on the east coast remained out of reach of illegal and destructive fishing fleets, mass development and irresponsible tourists that have degraded reefs in the south of Sri Lanka. Lets hope both the planners and the visitors act more responsibly to ensure that this last remaining bit of paradise is protected for future generations.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

End of journey

Migrating over thousands of kilometers but returning to the same nesting beaches to lay their eggs, sea turtles are some of the great travelers in the animal kingdom. Considering their extremely long lifespan an adult turtle is likely to have journeyed across several oceans, visiting the waters of numerous countries through its lifetime. But all great journeys come to an end, and this ancient mariner finally came to rest on a sandy plain next to a wreck in Colombo. The final destination on a great voyage. Its bleached shell and bones the only testament to decades of ocean wandering. RIP weary traveler.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rush Hour!

Its a Sunday morning and Colombo is relatively quite as I head down to the beach for my weekend diving. Out at sea, a stiff current is running north and schooling fish are congregating around reefs and wrecks. some seeking shelter from the currents, others looking to feed on plankton in the passing water column, and a few others looking to turn some of the smaller fish into their Sunday brunch. At Barracuda reef a school of fusiliers appears out of nowhere and stream pass us like rush hour traffic on a freeway, traveling south to some unknown destination. The fish have passed us almost as fast as they appeared but I was able to catch a few frames before they disappear into the blue. Down on the reef, there are no weekends as fish and other reef dwellers continue the eternal fight for survival.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Anguru Newa

The newest ship on the growing list of wreck dives around Colombo. After stories from fishermen and inaccurate coordinates the ship was finally dived in late January by Dharshana Jayawarden who posted a report on DiveSriLanka, and in February I had a chance to check it out myself. While not as visually appealing or awe inspiring as the popular Cargo Wreck or Medhufaru wreck in Colombo this is a fun dive in its own right. The ship is broken into two pieces with the stern and bow lying about 40m away from each other. But the intact sections provide a haven for marine life with schooling snappers, large porcupinefish, angelfish, sweetlips and a variety of other reef dwellers. Black corals adorn the sides of the ship and thousands of anthias and damselfish swarm around the top like butterflies. With a maximum depth of 26m this is an easy relaxed dive with plenty of photo opportunities.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A walk in the park

Jezeem joins the resident bannerfish for a Sunday afternoon stroll around the Medhufaru wreck off Ratmalana.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pinnacles of life

A few kilometers off the coast of Hikkaduwa are three rocky pinnacles rising from a sandy seabed at around 35m, with the tallest reaching up to almost 18m. The rocks look bare from a distance, but closer inspection shows they are covered in orange cup corals and green tree corals. A few black corals, whip corals and sea fans grow in deeper water while soft corals adorn current swept rock faces. Fish life is profuse. Schooling snappers, a few large sweetlips, angelfish and coral groupers waiting in ambush. Groups of anthias feeding on plankton flutter around the pinnacle tops like underwater butterflies. Today four bluefin trevally make forays among the fusiliers and blue triggerfish schooling above the rocks in a hit or miss game of underwater potluck dining. Welcome to Kirala Gala, considered by many to be the premier dive site in Hikkaduwa. But regardless of which dive site is the best there's no debating that these submerged rocks are definitely pinnacles of life.

Rocking it in Hikkaduwa!

Where better to photograph the typical rocky underwater terrain of Hikkaduwa than the aptly named "Hikkaduwa Gala" or Hikkaduwa rock. Smooth granite humps and scattered rocky boulders create an underwater landscape of small caves, canyons and swimthroughs. Coral growth is sparse but the rocks provide shelter to numerous reef fish, octopus, sea stars and sea urchins. Larger predators such as giant trevally and king mackerel make sporadic visits in search of fish that stray too far from shelter. With decent viz and gentle currents its a relaxed easy dive and a chance to experiment with some wide angle photography.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gorgonian Garden

Off the coast of Colombo, Gorgonian Garden is one of our favorite dive sites. A garden of sea fans at a depth of around 35m creating a fantasy world of reds, yellows and oranges framed against the blue water. Sea fans are not uncommon on other dive sites around Sri Lanka but we have never come across such a dense aggregation of healthy fans. Some as large as a diver stand tall over the flat seabed, often with several feather stars sitting on top of them to find a good vantage point to catch passing plankton. Large sea fans tend to grow in areas subject to strong currents and this site is no exception. The local fishermen call the reef "Hulang Paraya" or windy reef due to its exposed location, and strong currents tend to sweep the reef on most days. However on our last dive we have near perfect conditions with flat seas, light currents and visibility of 20-25m.  The good conditions are ideal for exploring the reef and we chance upon a large coral head teeming with fish, an action packed oasis of life within the silent and serene world of sea fans.