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Thursday, 23 May 2013

By the rivers of Babylon

Ok, so from the title you may have guessed that there's a Babylon theme to this post and you'd be right! After many months, we had the right weather, the right sea state, the right boat and the right day to actually get to dive the Babylon site on the North side of the island.

Yes, I know it can be done as a shore dive but the logistics involved and the faffing just make it far easier to get there by boat.
We're on the way! Full steam ahead!
I must say that Babylon is a very nice dive site as they have some cracking pinnacles by the main wall which are just teaming with marine life and coral.
One of the many pinnacles teeming with life and colour
Unfortunately there were no visitors hanging out in the blue to pop by and say hello but there was an excellent display of gorgonian fan, rope and barrel sponges as well as some nice hard coral formations.
"I'm your biggest fan......"
Given that we were boat diving with an operator, they were strict on the dive times and 60 minutes just isn't enough time here. Getting back on a boat with nearly have a tank left is just shameful! There may be merit to trying to arrange a shore dive here after all.......
So many dazzling colours here. I need to start wearing shades
We chundered along the coast for a bit and decided to get in on Andy's Reef. I don't know who Andy is but I'm sure he won't mind us diving here. The site starts of shallow with a multitude of coral fingers that stretch off into deeper water. If you take your time investigating the nooks and crannies of the fingers you can catch some sleeping sharks and grazing turtles here. 

Unfortunately today wasn't our day, but there was a fine selection of smaller stuff to get shots of, so off with the wide angle and on with the macro.
The obligatory flamingo tongue cowrie shot
The site was packed to the rafters with all manner of gobies and blennies, feeding angelfish, big eyed grunts, cruising barracuda and flighty drum fish.
French angelfish caught in mid meal hence the pouty face
One thing I did find which I have never seen at any other dive site here was squirreled away in amongst the sponge and was incredibly small at about 3mm and well camouflaged. After a bit of research (they weren't in any of my books), it turns out they are white shoe shrimps and certainly a novelty to me.
Tiny, tiny, tiny
You can see why they're called white shoe shrimps, it looks like they're wearing a pair of Nikes. Hope they didn't steal them....... I'll definitely have to keep an eye out and see if I can find them in any other locations.
And it wouldn't be a dive without a blenny shot
There was a bit of a squall moving in at the surface so conditions got poor quickly at mid dive point which was a shame as the viz dropped from excellent to PPP (pretty piss poor) in no time. 

But we still had a great day out with Babylon being a real highlight and definitely be back out there again. Either on a boat with more bottom time or arrange a fistful of cylinders for some shore diving and no limits. Now we're talking......
Arrow crab unimpressed with the change in conditions