I have a very good childhood friend who comes to visit me in Kenya from time to time. Whenever he comes he always wants to Scuba Dive, it does not take much to get me involved I love this coast we have some of the best diving along the East African Coast, that is a bit biased but I have dived in many different places around the world, and it is my opinion!
So, we decided to do an early morning dive just outside the entrance to Mtwappa Creek a small inlet about 25 kilometers North of Mombasa Island. The day is as usual beautiful, usually, along the East Coast, there is no wind in the early mornings. The sky was bright cobalt blue, the sun was rising in the east an idyllic sight.
I have a fiberglass canoe style ocean-going dive come fishing boat, with two 85 HP Yamaha engines on the back. My Captain for the day was called Chris he works for me at the boatyard a good boatman with years of experience around the Creek.
We put our tanks, BCD’s, Regulators and all the other paraphernalia you need to do a dive then headed to Shark Point just South of the Entrance to the Creek, we call the entrance a Malango it Swahili for gap or doorway.
The Ocean was flat calm we headed over to the buoy that marks the beginning of the dive. Visibility was brilliant at the buoy we could easily see the bottom 35 feet below. Tim and I are what we call lazy divers, Buddhas underwater we don’t do any of the fancy acrobatics of newbie divers, we just get in go down and mooch around looking at the wonderful sights of the reef, we always stay in sight of each other but keep contact down to a minimum. There are loads of divers who see every blood fish and have to point it out to you, I have led loads of dive groups whereby the end you are just pissed off.
So we get out kit on and back roll off the side of my boat, signal to Chris then dump the air in our jackets and head for the bottom. The dives we do at Shark Point are drift dives truly the laziest of all dives. Basically, you find the reef which is pretty easy then set yourself up with neutral buoyancy and just float along with the current, it’s
like sitting in a movie seat and watching a film unfold below you. This reef is truly fantastic there are so many fish, I must have dived it seven or eight hundred times over the years, and there is always something new to see. I had just become an underwater photographer, so I was intently trying to take photos, it is bloody hard underwater you have to get your breathing just right and try to get out of the current or you just float off past your chosen subject.
Tim and I are different divers he likes to stay about ten feet above the coral whereas I like to get in amongst it nose to the stones, I also love the micro life hidden in the nooks and crannies. So I was wandering along at about ninety feet minding my own business taking shots of the Leaf Fish, lovely little guys that are all the colors of the rainbow, they have tiny feet and are shaped, yes you got it, like a leaf that has fallen into the water. It’s their eyes that you can spot, they are like a red, brilliant-cut garnet.
So we have been mooching along for about forty minutes, we both spot a Giant Trigger fish, they are brightly colored fish and huge about one and a half feet long with an oval body and a short beak for a mouth as they eat coral. The males are the ones that look after the nest of eggs, and any tropical diver will tell you Titan Trigger fish are a
nuisance and are very protective and don’t give a damn how big you are. The other interesting thing is they protect the nest in a funnel shape the bottom of the funnel being the nest, this makes it pretty safe as long as you stay out of their way if the fish gets pissed and comes over you supposedly just swim down and so out
of the funnel.
I was about one hundred feet away from the big fella looking after his precious offspring, he had obviously missed the class on nests and funnels or was just a mean bastard. I had my head down doing my impression of a photographer intent on getting my shot of the Leaf Fish, then out of nowhere the bloody fish races across the reef like a dart, I glance up and get head-butted in the mask by a Hugh fish. My mask smashes into my face cutting my nose, and I am now blind. My training says swim down so blind as the proverbial bat I head for the sand, once I hit it I grope away from the reef like some sort of disabled slug crawling along the bottom.
After about a minute I am expecting my good friend and dive buddy to be helping me but no one comes. I stop the fish has left me alone as far as I know, I think to myself Shit, what to do now. I have to explain at this point to any non-divers,
if you are at seventy or eight feet for forty or fifty minutes you can’t just swim up to the surface, you have to go slowly. Now with no eyes, I would find it very hard to gauge my speed of ascent, so I sat on the sand and started waving my arms around hoping my every vigilant dive buddy would finally see me. It took the bugger like three minutes until I
saw a vague shape fining over to me I couldn’t see his face, but he seemed to be laughing as loads of bubbles were coming out of the regulator in his mouth. By now I know my nose was bleeding quite badly, and the
thoughts of the lovely Sharks at Shark Point was not such an attractive thought.
Tim saw the situation and grabbed my arm securing me for a safe ascent, which he did when he saw I was not badly injured the bugger giggled all the way to the surface.
When we got back on the boat, and my heart had stopped racing, and I had a plaster on my nose he said, “Bugger me mate I saw the bloody huge Trigger fish he looked mad as hell, I gave him a wide berth.”
Whenever I see one of these beautiful fish to this day, I go in the other direction!