As a small boy I used to watch Jaques Cousteau on National Geographic documentaries and dreamed of being able to have adventures like him. Today I did it. It was a day of adventure diving in wild currents with hundreds of hammerhead sharks, the biggest whale shark I have seen, at least a twelve metre giant, swimming with a family of pilot whales and having the big bull come over to warn us away from the females and babies, seeing dolphins underwater, having sea lions flying around the dive site and snorkelling with silky sharks as they came up close to check us out.
The diving at Darwin is not for beginners. A negative entry into a strong current to get down to the dive site that is a rock ledge around fifteen to twenty metres deep that is washed with current. The surge carries you backwards and forwards, there are down currents and up currents all in a ten metre area. All this coupled with a thick seven millimetre wetsuit and gloves to allow you to hold onto the barnacle encrusted rock. It is definitely the most uncomfortable I have been underwater, always thinking about my buoyancy and struggling to stay in place: and my bouyancy control is normally very good.
The dive guides gave us a big lecture last night about what to do if you get blown off the site, how they have lost eight divers here and that if you get carried by the current you can be two kilometres off the dive site by the time you get to the surface. Plus there are some areas here that have three metre waves crashing onto the rocks at the surface, and the current can carry you there if you don’t watch out. So on the tender going out to the site this morning there were a lot of very serious looking faces. After the dive however, there were a lot of very happy faces. The fish are the biggest I have seen and is a testament to what happens when the sea is protected from fishing. Snappers grow easily a metre long, and the blue spotted jacks are twice the size of any others I have seen in the Pacific. I saw a yellow tail tuna swim slowly past the wall that was much bigger than me, looking like a small submarine. There’s a massive school of jacks that literally look like a huge cloud that obscures the sun. They swam right past us on the wall within touching distance, totally oblivious to our presence.
We have another four dives here tomorrow and then onto Wolf Island which is supposed to be just as good.