THERE IS AN UPSIDE to most situations, and the loss of my camera now revealed the best of human nature as each dive-centre in turn kindly stepped up to lend me a variety of units over the next few days. The results of using these unfamiliar cameras were mixed, but I was very grateful for the chance to keep my hands occupied under water!
The second of the new wrecks I dived was with Peter & Gerlinde Seupel’s Aquanauts the next day. The 60m container-ship Anina lies to starboard in 30m near the Purple Rain reef, and proved as good as I had heard it was.
Diving this time on nitrox with dive-centre manager Paul Ward, we started at the bow and dipped into the big open holds for an easy swim through. Gradually we came up onto the deck to explore the huge crane and its control-room.
At the stern we admired the caged propellers with their famous population of queen angelfish. Incredibly, these had made the props their home when the Anina was moored in harbour, and had gone with the flow when she was towed several miles out to sea, staying with the mother ship. They are quite a sight.
We moved up over the stern and the hull, admiring its covering of orange cup corals. Above it amidships a shoal of small squid was hanging out and amenable to having their pictures taken.
A flying gurnard spreads its pectoral fins.
Fish pecked away at algae on the hull, sergeant-majors and the creole wrasse that give Purple Rain its name flitted. We were enjoying the views and stayed until close to deco before ascending.
The Anina was built in East Germany nearly 50 years ago. After a career in northern waters she had moved to the Caribbean in the 1990s but fell derelict in Grenada, building up that rich coral covering in dock.
Once again the GSDA had worked with the tourist authorities to arrange the sinking. Grenada values its diving visitors.
The last of the new wrecks would be off neighbouring Carriacou island later in the week, but for now there was a reminder on the second Aquanauts dive of just how rich the Grenada reefs can be.
We had enjoyed our surface interval at Fowler’s Island, watching eagle rays lazily circling the boat, then motored a little further out to the shallow ribbon reef known as Shark Reef.
Being on the Atlantic side, this can be subject to the strong currents that help the coral to flourish, but today we were in for a delightful gentle drift.
I had forgotten how this site bursts with life. Basket sponges, brain corals and soft corals abound and are swarming with fish. Lurking squirrelfish, queen triggerfish, parrotfish and schooling snapper are the ones you can’t fail to notice. The reef is named because there are so many nurse sharks there (you rarely see other types of shark in Grenada), usually sleeping half-hidden by reef.
Spiny lobsters are everywhere – I counted eight in one crevice – as well as morays, candy-stripe shrimps, sting rays – I saw them all on that absorbing dive.
Oddly, while photographing an oversized lone yellowtail snapper I was distracted by a looming porcupinefish before suddenly being mobbed by a dozen hefty French angelfish. They seemed to be coming straight at me, veering off in different directions at the last minute
and looking as surprised as me. Now that’s what I call a second dive!