Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back to the Dragon's Belly

Just for today, I'm going to break the "Africa sequence" with pictures from a swim I did last night, returned to the caves that I explored last year with Mr. T. This time, Mr. T couldn't make it, but Mr. S (he of the night-snorkel and a sailing adventure or two) could.

We reached The Beach around 18:00 and used an old entry point - sea was extremely calm, with only the ghost of a swell remaining (we've been basking under the shelter of a high pressure ridge for about a week now). The water seems noticeablely cooler this time of year, but lots of fishy activity - before entry, we watched a large shoal - mackerel? - being chased inshore by unseen predators.

We soon found the entrance to the Dragon's Belly - the shaft I call the Dragon's Throat had very good overhead clearance, with the tide low and falling, although it was still a slightly disconcerting swim - the cave walls amplify the swell, and I had the added distraction of trying to keep my video camera steady and focused. The tall thin picture on the right shows part of the western wall of the dragon's belly - the rockface pictured is perhaps 30ft in height.

Mr. S walks Mr. T's sea arch

Leaving the Dragon's belly, we passed over extensive and very rich kelp beds, finding the usual rock-dwelling fish (including 2 dogfish, small members of the shark family) and the occasional spider crab (unfortunately, well concealed and exceptionally difficult to photograph). Trying to find a good specimen for Mr. S, I dived below the kelp canopy to swim a groove in the bedrock. Intent on finding crustacea, I got quite a surprise when I looked up to see the walls of the slot closing together above my head. Ahead, though, the water was brighter, and I followed the groove for another few metres, every kick feeling molasses-slow. Then, the gap widened again, and I shot up through the open roof, back to the sun. The rest of the trip was uneventful - a stroll through a sea arch, shown above, and a short swim through a cave where Mr. T and I had previously found an airlock. More photos on flickr...

No comments: