Author: Simon C
Photo credit (above): Mike B
East Dam Dolosse at Last!
Another Sunday morning, another deluge of rain. Up early and braving the elements, it was time for today’s diving adventure with Diving Adventure. Arriving early, there was time to get some coffees and head to the boat. Mistake number one was putting them in a paper bag, in heavy rain, which subsequently gave way within 50 yards of the boat spreading the contents on the pavement. Things can only get better.
Club dives are getting ever more popular and this was a busy boat. A number were undertaking side-mount training so whole side was allocated to extreme gear faffing and bungee gymnastics. This made it a bit of a squeeze on the other side for us single tankers and even the “King of Faffing” (photo credit to Cath C) had abandoned his brethren and arrived with a single tank set up.
With all aboard, we were off, and as the boat headed out DM Tai gave another textbook briefing. Looking at the water, the week of rain had led to a very murky brown look as we cruised out. The target was set at East Dam and the dolosse (the plural of dolos; you learn something new every day, and a lot more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolos). This has been attempted many times before, only to be turned back the moment you head through the pass to more open water and worsening sea conditions. Given the conditions, it was surprising to make it through the pass and see better conditions. The sea even looked more like the sea than a muddy puddle and so we were on!
Arriving at the dam and anchoring up, there was excited activity as teams kitted up. The first wave did not hang about and there was quite a race to jump in before the boat swung away from the dam or got blocked up with side-mounters.
The "side-mounters", Photo Credit: Mike B
Jumping in as one of the last pairs, the boat had swung in the wind, and with my continuing dislike of surface swims, it was going to be quite an underwater journey. We dropped on the anchor line hitting the bottom at 13m and it was a little murky. Following our bearing we dropped to 17m and then it started shallowing up. From that 11mins swim, I can confirm to everyone there is absolutely nothing to see on that sandy bottom until you hit the rocks forming the bottom of the dam. Shallowing up to the dolosse (how many times can you use a new word), visibility got better at 10m and it was very clear, probably 10-15m. It also got warmer; there was also quite a thermocline with 22 degrees below about 10m, rising to 25 above 6m.
Swimming around and in the dolosse there were a lot of fish. Highlights were several nice size box fish, a good number of horned blennies, lots of the flat yellow crabs and lots of silver sweepers, including some groups with cleaner wrasse darting in and out between them.
Photo credit: No. 1-4 - Alex G, No. 5 - Andy E, No. 6 - Simon C
Other groups reported barracuda just off the dam, sardines, a group of squid and some good sized mullet. Some groups chose to head to the shoreline of the bay rather than the dam and one group managed to find some skeleton shrimps there.
The skeleton shrimp, photo credit: Alex G
The squids, photo credit: Simon C
Dropping in for the second dive, we again headed to the dam again, opting for a bit of a surface swim after the previous bottom swim. Conditions remained excellent and we headed further along the dam than the first dive. A nice lobster was spotted sitting out in the open, in the gap between dolosse. A good amount of time was spent trying to photograph some friendlier box fish and then the group of squid showed up at the end. One of my favourite, and hardest, photography targets, I set of in pursuit firing off shots. Getting close to finishing our dive, we headed back to the boat and came across a giant jellyfish with a lot of fish swimming around it. A quick un-stow of the camera to get some shots and then time to head to the surface.
"A giant jellyfish", Photo credit, Simon C
Being in the first wave has the advantage of having a relaxed pace and space to wash kit whilst the second wave finish their second dive. As the second wave finished up and the side mount course returned, the first wave got out of the way and waited for roll call to be completed; the sign that the beer can be opened. With rain still pouring down, we headed home with a beer in hand and a great days diving behind us. DM Tai delivered a winner, beating Mike B in the quest to deliver the dolosse, and we have all learnt to call it the dolosse rather than the long used dolos!
Divers of the day, photo credit: Mike B
The Sardines! Photo credit: Mike B