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.

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.