Jul 082013

Richelieu Rock views

About the dive site

I had a very relaxed two days last weekend, and decided to go for a late afternoon Sunday dive down at Mornington Pier. This turned out to be a terrible idea as I  filled the housing with seawater in my first ever camera flood. After getting assessments done for repairs and replacements, the whole lot is now with my insurance company. I’m very hopeful of being back in the water with camera in hand in another week or two, but it means I didn’t take any underwater shots over the weekend. So I was having a look back through my archive and discovered despite talking about the macro shots and the wreck shots from my Thailand trip, I hadn’t covered the dive considered to be the highlight of the liveaboard schedule in the Andaman Sea.

Richelieu Rock is a pinnacle rising up from the depths, covered in soft corals and teeming with fish. When we were there last Christmas our itinerary allowed for four dives – two and a night dive, and then one more the next morning before heading back south. Richelieu Rock was “discovered” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and purportedly named for the purple robes of the French Cardinal. The Rock rises from 50m to just under the surface at low tide and is covered in the red/purple soft corals you can see in the photo above.

Richelieu Rock school

About the dive

We jumped in for our second dive on the Rock and headed down the outside from the mooring. A normal dive involves doing a lap and gently winding your way up to the circular theatre. In the second shot here you can see the giant school that likes to hang out there. The number of divers they see mean they’re very relaxed about bubbles and we swam right up to and through the school.

About the photo

I was looking for a way to capture both the colour of the soft corals and the size and scale of the scenery. We had half a dozen boats of divers up top so catching a moment without a crowd in the picture required good timing. And the clear water meant taking pictures into the sun, even from depth, put a large highlight in the picture. So for this shot the sun is just out of frame on the right hand side, the other divers in my group are down below me, and the fish are teeming.

I love the perspective and the space in the clear water, and the way the Rock recedes into the shallows. While I was a little dubious about doing one fifth of our dives on the same pinnacle the amount of life here more than justifies in. I had great luck with shrimp and tiny spot-face eels with my macro lens on the night dive too – every crevice revealed another critter staring out into my torch light. That might be a story for next week.

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