Photo of the Week (10/03/2012): Safety Stop

Off the beaten Track
For the beginner diver this is one of the most discomfiting times of a dive, the safety stop, 3 minutes at 5 meters with the aim of eliminating microbubbles which are the cause of the dreaded decompression sickness or the ‘bends’. This can be an embarrassing time and as a beginner I used to flail around sometimes and I’ve even ...

Unwanted attention on the Medhafaru

Off the beaten Track
I could almost feel the fish’s pain as it flailed along sideways, jerking spasmodically above the Medhafaru’s deck. The fusilier had perhaps been the victim of a tuna or seerfish strike into a shoal and mortally injured but still alive had drifted down to the ship. To add insult to injury the poor fish was being pursued mercilessly by two ...

Photo of the Week (09/26/2012): City of Angels?

Off the beaten Track
To be fair it is not only natural landscapes that are breathtaking as there are a number of man made vistas that to the beholder are quite beautiful. What you don't see however is the urban blight, the concrete, the emissions and the gridlock that makes some cities, in this case Los Angeles a nightmare to live in and for ...

Published in Popular Photography

Off the beaten Track
I rarely enter photo competitions (i.e. I'm quite lazy) but this one I did and it was quite gratifying to get published and win the 'Best Shot' competition over at Popular Photography with my Baitball on the Cargo image!

Photo of the Week (09/14/2012): Truncated Tuna

Off the beaten Track
A visit to the Negombo fish market is eye opening, if somewhat of an assault on the olfactory senses. For those who want a taste (figuratively speaking of course) of where their seafood comes from, a walk through the market is a must. It is not a pretty sight, especially for those who like rays and sharks (more to come ...

Photo of the Week (09/05/2012): At night they feed

Off the beaten Track
At night the Cargo wreck glows. What looks like slightly boring, if colourful, stubs of coral during the daytime come alive at night. Known as Tubastrea coral, these are non-reef building coral which do not host photosynthetic algae within them like the coral we are most familiar with.These are usually found in deeper waters and in areas where they are ...

The importance of a sausage

Off the beaten Track
It could mean the difference between life and death.No, I’m not talking about the breakfast accessory but what we divers call a Safety Sausage or more technically a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB). Basically a brightly coloured, balloon made of a thick canvas to withstand some punishment which is clipped to your BCD or in a BCD pocket. This is an ...

Photo of the Week (08/29/2012): Green bee-eater close up

Off the beaten Track
Something overland for a change, the green bee-eater is a common bird in our national parks.. From Wilpattu to Uda Walawe and sometimes even in Colombo you will see these green gems flitting back and forth. Keep a close eye on them and you can see them snapping butterflies and dragonflies out of the air. They do have a habit ...

Johnny the Wonder Guide

Off the beaten Track
The thing with diving your backyard most of the time and diving independently is that I sometimes forget the value of a good spotter and guide. It was such a person, the enigmatic Shaf formerly of Colombo Divers and now loose somewhere in the Maldives, who showed me the jeweled wonders of nudibranchs. Since getting a wideangle lens however, I ...

Photo of the Week (08/22/2012): Taking the batfish for a walk

Off the beaten Track
No dive on the Medhafaru wreck is complete without the Batfish. These large, spade shaped fish come in shoals of about 10 and are a delight. Some of the friendliest fish around its not uncommon to be given an escort by them and they love playing with bubbles, chasing them down and engulfing them. True clowns of the sea and guaranteed to make your surface interval amusing.

Photo of the Week (08/15/2012): Tuna ballet

Off the beaten Track
Another common site on the Cargo wreck, especially during the start and end of the west coast seasons (October-November and March-April) when the bait balls are in full force. The tuna come in and hit the shoals, small hunting packs of 3-5. You can see them flex their fins and gear up before in a flash of silver coming in ...

Photo of the Week (08/08/2012): Baby box fish

Off the beaten Track
Every time I see one of these fellows, I hear a tinkling sound in my head. It seems so cartoonish, bobbing back and forth with no visible signs of propulsion. This is a juvenile Yellow boxfish, blessed with the lovely latin name of Ostracion cubicus. Later on in life, they get darker and more serious looking but the babies are ...

Top 10 Memorable Ocean Experiences of 2011: No. 08 – Seas of the East

Off the beaten Track
The seas of Batticaloa. The mysterious East. After so many years of war and restrictions these seas were the great unknown and rumours of shipwrecks and reefs hounded my dreams. It was with some excitement to say the least that we collected on the beach in Thennadi Bay, Mankerni in August where a flat sea met white sand in preparation ...

Photo of the Week (08/01/2012): Hunting Blue Fin Trevalley

Off the beaten Track
Since I alluded to the feeding action on my last Photo of the Week post about the stoned octopus, I figured I would post an image of the action. The Wall, a dive site which was ridiculously convenient to get to from Vinnie’s dive center in the Andamans was full of life and amazing action. The top was home to ...

Photo of the Week (07/27/2012): A Blissful Octopus

Off the beaten Track
A long, long overdue photo of the week. Octopi in Sri Lanka are generally quite skittish so I did a double take when I saw this octopus sitting serenely on a rock a few feet away from me at the Wall while diving in the Andamans. Getting closer to the fellow, I realized why it was so oblivious to me ...

Top 10 Memorable Ocean Experiences of 2011: No. 06 – Big G in the Shadows

Off the beaten Track
Big fish are rare nowadays. Even in the times of Arthur C. Clarke’s early ocean explorations, the big groupers were getting hit with unsporting (not to mention illegal) spear fishermen donning tanks and hunting these gentle giants out of existence. Every now and then I see a grouper that’s a couple of feet long and I get inordinately excited. It ...