Almost immediately after Bobbi and I returned to UAE from Egypt, I had to surrender my passport for my annual UAE visa renewal. This meant I would not be able to travel to Oman or Musandam and cross borders or checkpoints for the next few weeks, so my diving would be restricted to UAE for the time being.
The weekend after landing on a Saturday night flight from Cairo we felt like resting, so the following weekend we were thinking to go diving because Sunday was supposed to be a day off work, but later in the week we found out we had to work that day anyway, but the NEXT Thursday was slated to be off in lieu, so we planned to go diving that following weekend. As it turned out, that day-off was canceled as well, but we were beginning to dry out around the gills so on Friday, October 6, after working as usual on Thursday, we at least got to sleep a bit longer on Friday. We were up by 7, had the car packed by 8:30, and a little after that we were on the road, driving across the desert and through the east coast mountain range, to arrive at the Miramar Hotel right about 11:30, just in time to get ready to dive with Divers Down at 12:30. We had booked two dives, that one and again at 3:30.
We had been looking forward to renewing acquaintance with Paul, the colorful owner we had last dived with when I trained Mohammed Chowdhury there in May the year before. We found the center to be under new management but many of the friendly and helpful Filipino staff were still there, among other old friends.
In poor visibility on Dibba Rock, Fujairah, UAE, we nevertheless see schools of fish, lion fish, nudibranchs, flounders, batfish, rainbow wrasse, a puffer, and pipefish :-)
The diving wasn't great this weekend. There was a steady breeze from the sea causing small waves to wash on shore and some chop on the boat ride to Dibba Rock, our first dive site. Dibba Rock is normally one of our favorite sites in that area, but today the vis was soupy. We started the dive looking for rays in the sand around the deep anchor. We finned south against the current and then let it carry us back over the sand, always within site of the blurred shapes of rocks looming off the outcrops. We saw nothing but when we caught up with Rex and his group he asked in diver sign language if we had seen the ray that had apparently just taken flight from there. That was about it for excitement on that dive.
In this video from our Sharm (Three Rocks) dive, we focus on a couple of box fish, a banner fish ballet, a moray in orange soft coral, a trio of batfish, and schools of jacks, snappers and fusiliers
The next dive was at Sharm Rock, what Divers Down are now calling Three Rocks, as in the past, and before that, when I started diving in UAE, they used to call it the Pinnacles. In fact, in the old days we used to pull off the road just south of Sandy Beach and snorkel out to it on a compass heading dead east from shore, especially at night for advanced course night dives. There used to be resident school of barracuda there, lots of morays, and decent vis before they started building breakwaters from all the small harbors on the coast there, extending their ports, and building luxury villas on the coast with dedicated yacht harbors. There have been many impacts on the marine ecosystem in that stretch of coastline in the past 20 years, some of them natural, such as Cyclone Gonu and the red tide that one year persisted for 6 months, devastating the coral and many of the creatures who had lived on it. It's been bouncing back, but it's not like before. It used to be a pristine dive area, with lots of great sites with generally good visibility teeming with life and color.
Today the color was in shades of greens and browns, and even red as we went toward the south end of the rock. A thick red algae bloom had colored the water rust, and shades of orange where the sun was trying to shine through. It was disorienting because we couldn't tell if the darker patches were rock or just algae. I tried to aim us north toward where we'd put in but came upon a wall forcing us to head west for a seemingly long time, so finally I decided there was no rock there to the right, just algae, and headed through it to the north. Bobbi came away with itching from the mild toxin produced by the algae. At least the fish were plentiful. Though hard to see due to poor vis, there were often present swooping schools of jacks, snappers, and fusiliers.