Diving on Pemba Island and the trigger fish attack

I flew over to Pemba on Thursday to avoid the long trip back up to Korogwe.  As I write this I am feeling slightly guilty as it is Friday and I should have been working – instead I went diving –oops!  Oh well I will make the time up at some point.

I am staying at the Kervan Saray Beach lodge in the far north of the island.  Apparently the only place on the island to dive regularly – I certainly didn’t see another dive boat while I was there anyway.  It took 90mins to get here with 11km off road through a protected forest.  It’s a lovely remote relaxing place, there is only power between 6pm and 3am every day and everything has to be brought over from the mainland.  All food is included, everyone eats together on a big table and the place is full of really experienced divers.  I am by far the least experienced diver – the next is an Austrian girl who has 18 dives.  One German guy, Uvay, is 71 and he is aiming to complete his 1000th dive while he is here this week!

The place is run by an English/Turkish guy called Raf and his Dutch wife Cisca.  They are a lovely couple even if Raf is a little opinionated at times.  A lot of people come back here repeatedly so they become friends.  Last night when we ran out of beer Raf wouldn’t let me just drink coke so ended up with a huge measure of dark rum in it.  It was a fun evening.

I am diving with JP the dive master/instructor and four Austrians.  One of the Austrians is actually a dive master in his own right.  It was encouraging to see that it wasn’t me who had problems today so I wasn’t the worst diver although according to JP I am an oxygen thief!  I seem to use up my air so much quicker than everybody else on both dives today I ended up using JPs alternative air source so we could stay under longer.  Good job I no longer have a fear of removing my regulator under water!  We dived two sites today – aquarium and trigger point.  The later was a wall dive and we went to 28mtres!  That is an advanced dive depth but I seemed to cope OK.  It was a nice dive site and saw lots of fish, a juvenile reef shark, nudibranches and fantastic looking bright green crayfish and of course more stone fish – plus lots of fish I have no idea what they are called!  I really must try to learn a bit more about the fish.

Off now to the deck to watch the sunset – this is the life!

Day 2 diving was absolutely amazing – not sure how I am ever going to top it! Even managed to fit a third dive in so now I have a grand total of 11 dives!  All of the dives today we about 24mtrs and I was given a larger tank than everyone else so I didn’t need to use an alternative air source – I really should do my advanced course at some point so that I can officially dive to that depth.  The first dive at the Fundo Gap was spectacular.  Visibility to 40mtrs plus, thousands of fish including a huge shoal of emperor fish and the coral was beautiful.  I so which I had a camera down there – even Uvay who is trying to do his 1000th dive this week said it was spectacular and world class – he has dived all around the world.  What I particularly remember was these little angel fish swimming amongst this large red sea anemone that floated in the current – the colours were amazing. 

The second dive of the day while not as many fish was amazing in it’s own way.  We saw a large sea turtle, crayfish, large shoal of tuna, trevallies, box fish and snappers.  But the highlight looking back on it now (although it was slightly worrying at the time) was the Giant Trigger Fish attack!  Trigger fish are very territorial creatures and are known to attack if you get too close to their nest – their territories go upwards and outwards (so if it ever happens to you just keep swimming straight not upwards!).  We were happily swimming along when this 2ft trigger fish started to attack JP our dive leader.  First it went for his regulator then he managed to push it away and it kept repeatedly swimming away and turning round for another charge at him – he managed to bat it away a few times with his fins.  I was quite close to JP when it happened and at one point I thought it was going to come to me.  I was then unsure of whether to stick close to JP so he could fight it off or try to get away myself and hope it didn’t come for me.  Eventually it went away so we must have swum out of its territory.  At the end of the dive JP was on such a high about it – apparently that has never happened to him before – the other divers were kicking themselves that they had missed it!

The afternoon dive by any other standards would have been a great dive – however after the two morning dives it just didn’t compare.  Spent the evening with Hugh (a welsh supporter) trying to follow the England Wales Six Nations game on a laptop with the text commentary as all the radio stations were banned and there is no TV there.  Was not the best way to watch it but we had some banter going.  Gutted when England lost so went straight for a double ginger rum as a consolation!

So gutted to have to leave Pemba and come back to Korogwe.  I could happily have stayed there diving for a while – although it was expensive. 

Sunset from the deck


About becksupeverest

Took a leave of absence from work and decided to work as a volunteer in Tanzania based in Korogwe, a small town in the northeast of the country (combined with some travels around East Africa). The project is to look at the cost base, strategy and business plan of a tree nursery NGO - one of the Gatsby Foundation projects.
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