Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Diving in Southern Euboea

August 20th and 21st 2012

About 60 Kms East of Athens is my grandparents birthplace and the land and sea that I first explored as a youth; later a a naturalist. Southern Euboea - the distinctive southern end of Greece's second largest island; around the town of Karystos. I will refer to this place often in this blog because it is a point of reference for me.

Today I share some snap-shots taken by my friend Kyriakos Dikelas who runs a superb Diving Center in Karystos (http://www.diveinevia.gr/).  Do people dive frequently in Greece? (Well after so much fame as the sponge-diving center of the world and such a sea-faring tradition on would think so- but not...). Diving was made totally legal in Greece after 2006 - most people do not know this - a widespread ban was in place to supposedly protect antiquities. So this kind of recreation is new to us - and a lot of the sea is unexplored. Dimitri, my 15 year-old son and I got our Open Water Certification here this year - we are seasoned snorkelers - and he is a manic fisherman too...so it was about time!

We went on three shallow dives these days - first site is just East of the town of Karystos at the eastern end of the Bay at a place called Mantalia, near Bouros (12 m dive). Second site is beyond the Bay of Karystos in the more exposed shores to the Southwest, just across from the Petalii Islands, at Kalamitsia (19 m dive). We saw about 27 species of fish at the first site, 32 at the second (these are typical numbers seen during a sprint through these waters for half an hour or so).  Visibility was good, but not great these days due to high winds and currents (visibility was about 25 meters I think - it is really clear in the Aegean - everyone should know). 

As the years wear on, I realize the and calm one receives from spending more time underwater.  

Diving team at Mantalia, summer meltemi wind blowing strong.

At 10 meters depth or so- we look small from above. 

Posidonia sea grass meadows, typical and widespread on the flat gravelly bottom.

Rock face with sponges, sea-squirts, urchins and algae - really interesting stuff.

Most bigger fishes are hiding under these crevices. We saw an huge Wrasse, perhaps Labrus merula

Damselfishes create cloud-like schools above the sea grasses.

Fry of the Damselfishes (Chromis chromis) in the sea meadows. 

Nearly everywhere in Karystos Bay are these shards of pottery and earthenware from classical times. 

Team at Kalamitsia, series of narrow beaches along the extreme southernmost coast of Euboea. 

We enter and start to jog down a slope for about 100 m.

Then it gets really rocky and interesting, crevasses everywhere.

Lots of colour in the crevasses. This sponge-filled crack had a Dusky Grouper and a further down was a funny looking Phycis phycis

Bus and house-sized boulders litter the cliff base, above us a 10 m. tall wall. 

Lots of Posidonia meadows among the huge boulders too. It was fantastic!

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