Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kuwait: Coral Reef Diving

May 31st 2014 Southern Kuwait

Sharing more pics after wonderful diving with Alpha Divers. Location undisclosed: South Kuwait. Conditions: Two dives in waters that are already 30 degree C. Plankton-rich, turbid, wonderful.

This site is near a much visited island, but it retains remarkable diversity. At parts of the reef, an interesting coral species, Goniopora lobata dominates. This species has huge polyps extended day-and-night and some people mistake it for a soft coral - it creates a unique habitat of flowery hummocks. The long-spined sea urchin Diadema setosum lives in groups producing "little forests" that act as protective nurseries for young fishes, the most distinct being the Persian Cardinalfish, also dressed in black horizontal lines. Startling colour patterns on purple soft coral are no other than the brilliant and uncanny brittle stars (perhaps Ophiotheia sp.), entwined tightly on the stems. And we found our first elasmobranch of the day, a Scaly Whipray - a kind of ray that we have seen before in these parts.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kuwait coral reefs

Aris at Kuwait's outermost coral reef with giant Pharaoh Cuttlefish (this photo has been post-processed; compare the identical image un-touched below).

May 30th 2014 Kuwait diving expedition

With our guide Maryam Jaffar, her husband Ahmad; wonderful Kuwait hospitality at Alpha Divers. We explored two reefs that are totally unknown to us; out on the outer shelf far from the coast. Sadly anchor damage has done much harm. Also a lot of the bigger fishes are missing. We are studying this. The photos are my snapshots of the first two dives with a small Olympus Stylus; Aris Vidalis is doing some shooting with a 'bigger' camera. Its such a pleasure to be back in Kuwait waters.

Although the first reef - way out - was spectacular...steeply sloping and in rather clear waters, we found a ghost net that still entraps and kills fishes. Some Amberjacks had recently been entangled and a beautiful red crab - trapped to death. But coral diversity was rich - many Acropora. On every reef in Kuwait at this time you can see the huge Pharaoh Cuttlefish. Dazzling striped colour patterns used in reproductive displays.

On the second dive we drifted fleetingly in the rapid tidal current; most of the path was on the rubble top-reef and then we descended in dark turbid water down the reef base. We actually missed the more spectacular reefslope and need to return....But down in the deeper sections we found soft corals (such as the octacorals with tiny flower-like polyps). The current brings nutrient riches, the water was colder and full of medusas, ctenophores, jellies of all kinds. A blue soup.