CacheCrazy.Com: Benidorm Island - Under!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Benidorm Island - Under!

Welcome back to Benidorm Island!

So, the outing you joined me on yesterday (birding) was pretty intensive... what with the sun beating down, heat and stink in the caves, scrambling up and down the island on hands and knees... whew! I'm tired and sweaty just thinking about it! :p

Time for something a bit more refreshing, don't you think? ;o)

Let's see what's UNDER the island! Two weeks ago my sister and I hopped on a boat in Villajoyosa (yes, with a dive club, AliSub if you're ever in the neighbourhood, great club!) and jumped into the water at the southern point of Benidorm Island known as Punta Garbí (N.B.: all these underwater pics were taken by my sister Gabby -except for a couple I took but I don't remember exactly which ones- she also did all the editing in photoshop. If some look a bit fuzzy around the edges that's because some humidity in the casing caused the lens to fog up a bit due to the temperature difference. There was also a flash problem as she lost her flash diffuser a while back and apparently hasn't found anyplace to sell her just that little piece of plastic!)

Let's start by looking down in here:

a moray eel! O.k., I know, it's just a tail, but trust me on this one! I wouldn't put such a oops! shot in here, except that was the only moray we saw and since they're (usually) such a frequent visitor in Benidorm dives I couldn't illustrate this without one! :p

Ahhh, this fellah isn't too afraid to show himself! And not much later we saw 2 more of his cousins...

Methinks this is red coral... (but not sure) or a cousin.

Used to be abundant in the Mediterranean, but as it's been exploited since the Romans well.... not much is left!

This will give you an idea of the route we followed on this (50') dive:

We dove straight down to the seabed from the boat (~20m) and spent about 20' exploring down there among the algae and boulders, looking for octopi, morays etc.

Then we got closer to the wall (that goes on up to the platform around the island where people go snorkling)

and spent quite a bit of time examing little sections here and there, admiring starfish,


sponges, little fish nibbling on algae... you name it! No scorpionfish (Scorpaena scrofus) unfortunately this time (a Mediterranean delicacy, key ingredient to boullabaisse).

My! I love looking up at the surface:

Sometimes you can see the silhouette of a barracuda among the schooling fish, not this time, This was just a big school of one of the most abundant fish in the region:

the damselfish Chromis chromis (in Spanish = Castañuela, in French Castagnole). Want to know a little secret about this fellah? He changes colours!!! Well, at least from chocolate brown to chestnut brown, when scared or caught in a fishing net (not recommended, not good for food!). It's a defense mechanism. Say you're part of a damselfish school, and the guy next to you switches colour... you do quickly the same to pass along the danger message to the rest of of the school (think domino effect) and then everyone drops to the seabed to hide among the algae .

Here he is again in a little hollow among the rocks:

and he found some friends! Those red fish with the big eyes are Apogon imberbis, you'll only ever see them hiding in "grottos" like that. More coral on the bottom there. And if you look at the right hand side, in the middle you'll see a red tunicate. It's a barrel-shaped invertebrate with two tube-like siphons on its end to filter water.

Further along the wall we were lucky enough to catch a shot of this polychaete, a tube worm:

If you have good eyes you can spot quite a few of them while diving (but smaller). Only thing is they're very shy so if they sense a difference in the current (like you swimming next to them) they'll "swoosh" back into they're tube and the diver behind you will only see and empty tube sticking out.

I believe this guy is a Sargo, or white seabream (Diplodus sargus). One of the medium-to-large fish you see quite frequently around here.

And here's another anemone! I can't remember if it was truly black or if the colour is just the result of our flash problems.

Did you notice the empty polychaete tube in the upper left-hand corner? ;o)

Hmmm... our air supply seems to be nearing the reserve point! Time to go up a bit more, closer to the sunlight and play around on the platform a bit...

So up along this wall we go...

...stopping to admire the sea urchins

When we reach one part of the platform (about 7-10m) we're greeted by schools of salpas (Sarpa salpa), a fish we're more used to seeing around the seagrass beds since they're basically little underwater cows who spend their time munching on those plants! :p

Hmmm... my sister thinks this is a good spot to stop for a drink...

Oh my! That beer must have been "heavy" and gone to her head!

(no, I didn't turn the photo up-side down!)

Look at us, we're goofy (regular crazyness, not narcosis! lol!)!

Ok, time to head up further into the light.

Aha! A male wrasse (Spanish = doncella, French = girelle, Coris julis):

How can I tell it's a male (you usually can't with fish unless you dissect them)? Well in this photo below there are 2 females (ignore the green guy for now), can you see the difference?

Want another fishy story? Wrasses live in harems, and are hermaphrodites! If that male dies, one of "his" females will go hide in the sand for a few days, and when she comes out, SHE will be a HE! :p Who says sex-changes aren't Natural? (although to be honest these guys were born with both sets of equipment, the dominance of one over the other is all hormonal, they almost all start out at sexual maturity as females, and not all of them will get the chance to become males.)

Ok, remember that green guy above I told you to ignore? Well you can stop ignoring him now! He's a rainbow wrasse (fredi or doncella in Spanish, girelle paon in French;Thalassoma pavo). And he's a sign of global warming! Here's a female:

Global warming I said? Well these colourful guys are much more typical of the warmer waters along the north African Mediterreanean coast... and they've been slowly making their way north and starting to breed along Spanish and Italian coasts. Now fish are rather picky when it comes to temperature... so if they feel comfortable enough to breed around here it's because it's gotten warm enough.

Problem is... they've kind of been kicking out the regular wrasses (they share the same habitat) so we've been seeing some ecological shifts... Oh well, nothing much we can do to stop underwater "invaders" but at least they're pretty, right? :p

Hmmm... you know one thing I like about being in shallower waters? There's less absorption in the light spectrum and you can see my flaming red hair! lol!

Hope you enjoyed the visit and are feeling refreshed! I must say though, this isn't the nicest place on the island to dive. Los Arcos or La Llosa are MUCH better! But dive sites are often chosen based on the weather conditions... and it was a bit choppy out there (in fact they cancelled their afternoon dives) and it was deemed safer as close to the island as possible.

For those interested in dive specs, we went down to 21m max, spent a total of 50' in the water (yay!) just hitting the reserve of our 12l air tanks; were wearing 5mm wetsuits, seawater temperature was 27ºC at the surface, dropped to 24ºC around 17m. Visibility was ok, but you could tell the waters were a bit churned up as there was quite a bit of particulate matter floating around (visibility is much better here in winter).


CrazyCris said...

Woops! What happened to the videos?! :p

So much fun to relive this dive several years later! My sister was just starting out with underwater photography (and dealing with several technical issues), and now years later she's actually won a couple of awards from dive magazines! :o)

I don't think I've been to Benidorm Island in a few years!!! I'll have to go back this summer for sure! ;o)

Thanks for bringing this post back to life Kevin! And on WORLD OCEANS DAY too!!!

I hope everyone enjoys it and comes by to visit the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon this weekend! :o)


Kevin Bloodhounded said...

Oh man, I love this post from CrazyCris! There are two great videos with her post but for the life of me I couldn't get those bad boys to play within the blog post???? So much more the reason you need to get over to her site right away.....Thanks Cris, well done!

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

What a wonderful post - the photos are amazing. Thanks Cris!!

river song said...

What fabulous pictures; I love your commentary, too! thanks for participating in the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon! Peace!

sharif ahmed said...

For the Αθήνα φωτογράφος γάμου query "What is usually a video camera? inch, a better solution was, "If photography enthusiasts usually are physics, after that video camera is usually gravity".

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