Croatia: Above and Below the Waves

Currently in my final 2 months of uni, I’m out every day in the peak distict doing field work studying a population of long-tailed tits, and when I’m not there I’m probably on my computer playing with spread sheets. This is why I’ve been a little quiet on the photography front recently! However, over the Easter weekend I managed to sneak away from the real world and escape to Croatia for a week of scuba diving with my university diving club! We were staying in the pretty little town of Okrug Gornji, close to Trogir, on Croatia’s Dalmation coast. Every day we ventured out on one of the diver centre’s boats to go diving on a different part of Croatia’s beautiful coast line. Although the weather wasn’t always kind, for the most part the sun was shining on the calm blue Adriatic sea, with Croatia’s mountainous coastline lying on the horizon.

Adriatic sea

adriatic sea, Croatia, Mediterranean, blue

Trogir diving centre, scuba diving, skipper, boat diving, trogir diving centre, boat, croatia

We did a total of 11 dives over 5 days, including divng on shallow coastal bays, rocky reefs, vast reef walls and one very cool night dive. On days out on the boat we stopped off at what had been described as a “small fishing village” for lunch. This description left us expecting a small rustic village in a rural setting, perhaps with a picturesque little market selling the catch of the day. However, when we arrived, all sweaty and fashionably dressed in our under-suits, we were greeted by a fancy mariner with large yachts, shops, and cafes… we were definitely classing down the place! Nevertheless, this “village” was full of colour and was very photogenic!

colour, colourful, painted, door, urban, shutters, croatia red boat, croatia, sea, mariner, harbour, colourful Croatia, colour, mariner, harbour, boats, benches

Unfortunately I don’t own any underwater camera equipment (….yet!), so couldn’t capture the amazing scenes or animals I was seeing on most of the dives (but see later)- which included a huge variety of fish species, many many colourful little nudibranchs, and lots of bright sponges and corals that adorned the tall cliff faces and epic over-hangs. I did grab a few top-side wildlife shots though of the herring gulls that swooped around our boat.

herring gull Herring gull in flightBut on the very last day, I finally got my first go at underwater photography! My friend wasn’t diving and was nice enough to let me borrow her Canon powershot s110 and Nauticam housing to take down on the final two dives. Taking photos underwater is certainly no walk in the park; requiring lots of multi-tasking and having to deal with low-light conditions with just a narrow-beamed torch for extra lighting- never mind the fact I had never used this camera before!

croatia, adriatic sea, reef, sea fan, gorgonian

Capturing fast moving fish seemed nigh-on impossible, but for this shot I managed to perch my elbows on a rock to make a human tripod and get a shot of this little long-striped blenny while it briefly sat still.Blenny
Every reef we visited was abundant with nudibranchs of a diverse array of sizes, forms and colours. The shots below were both taken by torch light, the first nudi’ is known is known as a sea-cow for rather obvious reasons… the second/third I’m not sure on the species (invertebrate ID is hard!). All three of these shots were lit up with my torch.

sea cow, sea slug, nudibranch, coral, croatianudi, spotlight, nudibranch, sea slugsea slug, nudibranch, croatia

I was lucky enough to see some really cool marine life during the week, including a seahorse, moray eel and a cuttlefish. But all week, one pretty cool animal kept alluding me, even though just about every dive someone else seemed to have seen one- an octopus. It had reached the final dive of the week, myself and my diving buddy had a nice dive on a rocky reef, full of all your standard fish and nudibranchs, but nothing remarkable. Our safety stop was coming to an end and it was time for me to signal to my buddy to head to the surface and end the dive. But when I turned to look at him, I noticed him intently staring into a little cave. It took me a while to work out what he was looking at, but as he made way for me and the camera, I soon realised what he was so interested in. I finally got to see, and photograph, my octopus! Immediately afterwards we had to head to the surface, so the odd alien-like eye of this amazing animal was the very last thing I laid my eyes upon under the sea, and I wouldn’t have ended the week in any other way!
Octopus vulgaris, Mediterranean, croatia, adriatic, octopus, cave, torch, underwater photography

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