Posts Tagged ‘eels’

This is not a fish...

This is not a fish...

Want to dive surrounded by lots of rich history and few other divers?  Then Turkey is the place for you.  Scuba diving in Turkey is relatively new and slowly developing, which means the facilities are there, but not the crowds. The warm weather in Turkey makes scuba diving possible all year round; however, the true scuba diving season begins around April when average water temperature in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey is 18C. The height of the scuba diving season in Turkey occurs in August where the waters reach temperatures of 30C (86F).

Turkey offers a wide variety of scuba diving options including reef diving, wall diving and cavern diving for divers with all levels of skills. The underwater scenery is varied and interesting, with tunnels, caverns and rocky pinnacles providing divers with plenty to explore. There are also many diveable wrecks along the Turkish coast, both historical and modern.  Diving conditions are excellent throughout the diving season with clear blue waters and visibility of up to 100 feet.

This isn’t the Caribbean, though.  Not all dives will yield profuse and colorful fish like in tropical seas, but on most dives one will encounter an interesting range of species of fish including nudibranches, octopus, groupers, morays, barracuda, moray eels, seahorses, sting rays, and sea bream.  Though rare, there is also the possibility of seeing dolphins and turtles depending on the dive site.

For me, the true appeal of diving in Turkey is the chance to encounter glimpses of prior civilizations that the sea has gobbled up.  The area is rich with underwater historical artifacts.  The most common items divers encounter are broken amphora and pottery, but a wide range of ancient artifacts, even shipwrecks, exist in shallow water and deep water alike.  Formal underwater archaeological sites, however, are strictly controlled and diving at these sites is not open to the sport diver.  But, plenty of informal opportunities exist to see relics lost long ago.

Although there are some scuba diving sites on the Black Sea resorts of Turkey, scuba diving is especially popular around the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Most tourist resorts on the Southern coast of Turkey have scuba diving sites and offer scuba diving trips. Some of the most popular locations in Turkey include Alanya, Antalya, Bodrum, Kas, Kalkan, Marmaris, Fethiye and Gallipoli. All of these scuba diving destinations have plenty of non-diving related things to do too, including yachting and sailing.   

Bodrum

Bodrum is a wildly popular vacation spot on the Aegean Sea.  On land, Bodrum boasts both trendy modern amenities and historical treasures to explore.  Diving is particularly nice here due to the warm, calm waters of the Aegean that are free of tides and strong currents. For those who want to dive beyond the bays and beaches, rugged, volcanic offshore islands provide some very diverse locations including hot springs, caverns, reefs and spectacular drop-offs. It is not uncommon to come across evidence of ancient civilizations, such as artifacts and wrecks, on almost every dive.

With sea temperatures ranging from 14 to 25 degrees between summer and winter, Bodrum is a great location for diving holiday at any time of the year. Just to be on the safe side, recompression facilities and the services of a hyperbaric doctor are on 24-hour call in Bodrum.

Marmaris

Marmaris is a popular resort town located in the south-west coast of Turkey where the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Marmaris is a natural harbor that provides a safe haven for a variety of water sports including diving. Its clear sea waters range in temperature from 18 to 25 degrees C.

Marmaris offers a good variety of diving, located largely in the Bay of Marmaris. Around Yildiz Ada and the smaller Keci Ada (respectively Star and Goat islands) groupers, octopuses, jacks and sea breams are commonly seen. At the western tip of another small island, Bedir Ada, divers can see the remains of an 800 year old Ottoman wreck. Another interesting aspect of diving in Marmaris is the numerous underwater caverns: Baca Magara, the chimney cavern of Yildiz Ada, the entrance of which is at 14m and the exit at 3m below the surface, makes a stimulating second dive.  Further out at Kadirga Point, divers can spot broken amphora on the sea bed up to a depth of 30m.

Alanya

The interesting flora, the variety of underwater marine life and especially the enticing underwater caverns and caves have made Alanya a popular dive. Most of the dive sites are situated around the coastline of the Alanya Castle, the steep cliffs of which turn to dramatic drop-offs under the surface of the sea. The close proximity of these dive sites makes them easily accessible even by inflatables and diving three or four times a day is possible with the option of returning to base after each dive. The sites are also very suitable for night dives.

Like Bodrum and Marmaris, Alanya doesn’t disappoint when it comes to things to see underwater.  Several sites, like the Aquarium, host an incredible array of fish in a small area.   Creatures such as snails, mussels, octopus, black scorpion fish, moray, soldier fish, grouper, thornback rays and pıgfish are all easy to spot.  Looking for evidence of prior civilizations?  Well, that’s here too.  At the spot named Amphora, divers can see…amphorae, mostly broken pieces, but plenty of them.  And at Pirate Cave, an ancient mill stone sits easily accessibly on the ocean floor.

Kas

Kas packs a one-two punch of dense underwater life and extremely clear water, with visibility extending past 100 ft on good days.  There are around 30 different dive spots, all reachable within 30 minutes starting from the harbor of Kas. Wreck diving, cave diving, underwater canyons, stone reefs, swim throughs, tunnels, and night diving are all options in this area.  Kas even boasts its own blue hole with an incredible array of sea life.

Many critters call Kas home.  Barracuda, stingrays, turtles, rare snails, dorado, jackfish, soldierfish, octopi, eels, trumpet fish, huge groupers, trigger fish, anemones, crabs, and even soft-corals.

Kalkan

Kalkan has at least 14 excellent dive sites including islands, reefs and walls.  The visibility at all of the dive sites is usually quite good, often in excess of 25-30m. Water temperatures range from about 18oC in April to 30oC in August. Kalkan’s tides are modest, and easy to navigate by divers.

A large variety of marine life is found in the area: groupers, sardines, moray eels, turtles, stingrays, barracudas, sea bream, rainbow wrasse, damsel fish, bonita, sea mullet, starfish, octopus, dolphins, nurse sharks, squid, mackerel and more.  Other items of interest include ancient pottery remains and an old wreck of a steamship.

Larry, the Puerto Rico lobster

Larry, the Puerto Rico lobster

Puerto Rico may be the fourth largest island in the Caribbean, but it is certainly one of the greatest for scuba diving. Its unique location, between the semi-protected Caribbean Sea and the open Atlantic, means that divers get the best of two realms, with sheltered reefs, pelagics from the deep, sheer drop-offs and networks of caves and tunnels, all in clear, warm waters year round. Water temperatures are in the low 80s in winter; mid-80s in summer. Visibility averages 70 feet around the main island with 100 feet or more off some of the surrounding small islands.
Diving in Puerto Rico is mainly done off the East, South and West coasts of the island. To the east, visibility frequently approaches 100 ft. Off the coast sit two small islands ripe for diving – Culebra and Vieques. The establishment of the Culebra Marine Reserve Park ensures that its dive sites are protected. Though Vieques is known for the prior U.S. Naval bombing exercises, it actually offers very healthy reefs due to the lack of visitors there in the recent past. There are also several dive sites around a series of small uninhabited islands—Palomino, Palominitos, and Cayo Diablo, where white beaches lead to shallow, prolific reefs amongst calm waters. Along with stingrays, eels, angelfish and jacks, very often divers off the east coast see dolphins, turtles, manatees, and even sometimes passing whales.
Puerto Rico’s Wall runs parallel to the south coast, producing sites with shocking drop offs. La Parguera, on the island’s southwest edge, features at least two dozen spots for sighting stands of black coral and pelagics. Rincon is where land-based dive operators run trips westward to Desecheo Island, another area with more dive options than there are hours in the day. A trip to pristine Mona Island is a highlight of many divers who visit, but it lies 45 miles west of the island (a 6-hour boat ride) and so the visit needs to be planned in advance.

Some interesting dives in Puerto Rico include:

Las Cuevas – This fascinating spot located near Desecheo that looks like Dr. Seuss molded the sea floor. Arches and swim-throughs cover the landscape, producing psychedelic effects and plenty of exploration opportunities. This boat dive starts at about 35 feet, but goes no deeper than 65 feet, which insures divers will have plenty of bottom time to search for critters amongst the super healthy reefs.
Cayo Raton – This semicircular reef off of Culebra starts flat and then plunges down to 55 feet. The sometimes strong current makes for 100+ foot visibility on a good day of diving. Larger fish are attracted to the current, but the reef boasts a healthy collection of small creatures, too, prompting many divers to note that there seems to be an unusually large amount of fish to be seen at this site.
Fallen Rock – This advanced dive near La Parguera will take a bit of a boat ride to get to, but bring a book and some sun screen, and you’ll be glad you made the trip. Sometime over the millenea, an enormous piece of the wall broke off and tumbled down the slope, causing a v-shaped notch that now shelters an explosion of coral and sea life. The boulder that broke off now forms a pinnacle further down the slope that divers can explore in detail, with frequent seahorses, crabs and octopus sightings. This is a deep dive, with the top of the reef at 65 feet, and the bottom dropping past 100, but the unique topography makes for a dramatic dive. All the usual reef fish can be spotted here, as can pelagics like mackerels, jacks, barracuda and spotted eagle rays that patrol the blue.
The Wall – This wall dive near La Parguera (sometimes also called Efra’s Wall) boasts multitudes of colorful coral lining the wall and adjacent canyon. This is a great site to check out the plant life, with gorgonians, whip corals, large golden zoanthids, green finger sponges, black coral and rope pore sponges growing from what seems like every surface. This dive also offers queen triggerfish, spotted eagle rays, schools of goatfish and parrotfish, as well as a hefty dose lobster action.