OUR SECOND DAY OF DIVING would take us into slightly more serious territory, on the 30m-deep wreck of the fishing-boat Como Tu.
A long descent to a wreck in water this clear is one of the most exciting parts of a dive for me. Seeing the vessel appear on the seabed when you have barely left the surface gives me a real buzz.
The Como Tu fishing-boat wreck.
There’s not really much to look at with the Como Tu, a small fishing-boat with its wheelhouse missing, but the attractions for divers are the butterfly rays that carpet the surrounding seabed, and the clouds of grunt that engulf it.
I fired off one or two token shots of the wreck and, with our bottom time ticking away, we left the wreck to find rays.
During the day the butterfly rays sleep under a sandy blanket, only their faint outline giving them away. When free-swimming they display a highly individual asynchronous finning motion, using their wings alternately.
They’re among the largest and most delicate-looking of the bottom-dwelling rays I have ever seen, with striking patterns emblazoned on their back.
A dose of nitrox would have been perfect for this dive, but it didn’t appear to be on offer, so we enjoyed our 15 minutes on the bottom before climbing the anchor-line back to Rasmus on the boat.
The beauty of diving sites with visibility this good, of course, is that we can go on admiring the area while ascending.
With only two dives left to experience, both quite different again, I was becoming quite attached to Gran Canaria.
Potter, who arrived with a blend of accents and the warmest of welcomes, invited us aboard his enormous catamaran Afrikat. Blue Explorers had recently come up with the idea of using this as a kind of floating base-camp with bar/restaurant, to spoil their diving and non-diving clients even further.
We left the marina aboard the cat, escorted by our RIB loaded with dive-gear, and headed for the Perchel Caves site about half-an-hour away under motor. While we readied ourselves for the diving, the chef prepared the buffet and “divers’ punch” in time for our return.
Perchel sea-caves spread under water along the base of the immense sea-cliffs that line most of this part of the coast. The area of interest to divers lies between 5 and 10m deep, and the caves themselves extend just a few metres at most inland.
Denise located a slipper-lobster on the underside of the first one we came to. Arrow-crabs had been plentiful on our dives and I found heaps of them backed up into cracks all around the sea-caves.
David led me into a shallower cave with a window in the ceiling where I could see the waves crashing against the cliffs above.
We then ventured slightly deeper to enjoy the many swim-throughs and areas with far less natural light.
AFTER 40 MINUTES my thoughts had begun to turn towards the buffet aboard Afrikat, and I found I had developed a bit of thirst for this divers’ punch I’d heard so much about, so we popped up an SMB and waited for our RIB taxi to dinner.
My last dive would be a local dive, just out of the marina and right, known as Mogãn West Drift. It felt as if we might have been in for something uneventful, but it proved to be quite the opposite.
Gemma of Girls That Scuba and I decided to take on the dive by ourselves, while Denise and a student went off on a shallower bimble.
Where the cliffs stop at the water, boulders begin and tumble down onto the sand at 15m. We headed straight for this depth, on the fringes of sand and rock.
Sand-eels poked out of the seabed like bent fingers
and, as they do all over the world, slowly slid back into their holes as we neared.
Quite soon into the dive we were joined by a small African cuttlefish. It was shy at first and kept its distance, but over several minutes it began to venture closer.
My camera dome-port proved interesting to the creature, a behaviour
I had witnessed many times before. My understanding is that the cuttlefish are interested in their own reflection, perhaps mistaking themselves for potential mates.
We kept one eye on the sand in the hope of spotting rays or sharks, but they were elusive on this dive. More cuttlefish joined the party, however, and we knelt for a while watching a trio perform what looked like a mating ritual. These individuals all at once displayed a zebra-like pattern, one I hadn’t seen a cuttlefish create before.