Posts Tagged ‘Pacific & Indian Oceans’

Maritime History: See What Wrecks Were Discovered in 2015

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Corsair wreck at Marshall Islands

Brandi Mueller

Corsair wreck at Marshall Islands

New wrecks are being found around the world, and we’ve got the scoop.

WORLD WAR II AIRPLANE GRAVEYARD

Exploring one plane wreck is good — but 150 is better. That’s what awaits divers in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands, where more than 150 WWII aircraft were found in 130 feet of water. “They should have flown more, lived longer, but they were sunk in perfect condition,” Brandi Mueller tells guns.com. She discovered the site while diving of the coast of Roi-Namur in May 2015. Although this site is called a “graveyard,” these planes did not crash — rather they were pushed of a reef and into the ocean after the war.

SÃO JOSÉ-PAQUETE DE AFRICA

Lost off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, in 1794, this Portuguese slave ship drew the attention of researchers who spent years searching for it — recently, the authenticity of the São José-Paquete de Africa was confirmed by the Slave Wrecks Project, which educates the public about the global slave trade. Now over 200 years old, the São José-Paquete de Africa sank after it ran into submerged rocks about 300 feet from shore, killing more than half of the 500 enslaved people on board, while it was on its way from Mozambique to Brazil. Surviving slaves were sold shortly after the tragic wreck incident. Divers can also explore nearby reefs.

USS INDEPENDENCE

After more than 60 years on the bottom, the “amazingly intact” USS Independence has been discovered of California’s Farallon Islands, though its depth — 2,600 feet — makes it undivable. Using an autonomous underwater vehicle and a 3-D-imaging sonar system, researchers created a detailed image of the 623-foot vessel. Independence was an American aircraft carrier during World War II; it was a target ship in atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.

NELSON

Two hundred feet down on Lake Superior’s bottom lies a 115-year-old ship with its name still legible — Nelson. Found intact, the 199-foot three-masted schooner sank during a storm in 1899 while transporting coal to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. While conducting a side-scan sonar search of the area, Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society researchers discovered the wreck in August 2014.

Liveaboard: Diving in Indonesia Aboard the Komodo Dancer

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

A train of four giant mantas charges overhead, and it’s not a freak encounter. The site’s full name is Manta Alley, but superstition has local guides simply calling it the Alley lest the wonders fail to appear, which is rare. Right now, 15 of them — each roughly 12 feet across — are winging laps around Langkoi Rock, a craggy pinnacle of the south side of Komodo, the Indonesian island best known among nondivers for dragons. As for the mantas, they’re here when cold water is, pushing in plankton. And the action is nonstop.

Being in the shadow of beings so large and powerful is humbling. It’s why Noh Atta Abola, steering mate of the M/V Komodo Dancer, is kneeling on the sand, arms overhead. He can’t help the visceral gesture of awe.

The big stuff, from mantas to mola mola, is just part of the reason experienced divers consider Indonesia — and this luxury vessel — the trip of a lifetime. It’s a reward best appreciated after countless hours logged over reefs, learning to identify enough fish species to appreciate the record-setting biodiversity of this underwater Amazon. Moreover, participants need skills honed for the sometimes challenging conditions, from down-currents to drift dives ending in open water.

The 10-day voyage I’ve just begun starts on the island of Flores, 36 hours by boat if traveling nonstop to the end point of Bali, itself a destination most lengthen their trips to experience. Before I embarked, I had wanted to revel in the magic of the place, devoting a week to touring the incense-heavy temples —local myth alleges Bali has a thousand.

The dive trip will be a whirlwind. The itinerary promises a parade of wonders so large it’ll take work to keep pace, and so small it’s a hunt to acknowledge their presence. I imagine it’ll feel much like standing before the ornate temple altars — like what Abola experienced today: a feeling of awe so overwhelming you can’t help but be brought to your knees.

NIGHTLY SHOWINGS

It’s just after sunset, and Rob Morgan-Grenville is briefing us on a site called Circus, supposedly one of the trip’s best night dives. But after he uses the words sand, rock and coral rubble, I debate tugging on a damp wetsuit.

“It’s not the pretty corals we’ve been seeing all week,” Morgan-Grenville admits, referring to sites like Crystal Rock, where every inch of coral is alive, supporting anthias and schools of rainbow runners so thick they obscure any divers among them in the water column.

But muck diving is one of the main attractions of Indonesia. The only possible reason to skip it is a cold Bintang beer — unlimited for guests. But the stocked fridge will wait, so I opt in.

We start by hunting stargazers. Earlier, guide Gede Merta had shown pictures: The fish buries itself in the muck. Only its face — bug eyes and a frowning underbite of corn-kernel teeth — is visible.

I find nothing but broken coral bits until he shakes his dive light, commandeering our attention. Then he aims a wire pointer at the black sand.

The alien is no bigger than a baseball. It’s a lesson repeated when Merta points out a bobtail squid, no bigger than a bumblebee. I think it’s a juvenile till later that night, when we gather in the salon to pore over the Reef Creatures book.

Turns out, bobtail squid are no bigger than golf balls, making their sparkling iridescence somehow more magical.

And so the next few days and nights pass, muck diving at sites such as Fuzzy Bottom of Sumbawa Island. We’re treated to encounters with algae octopuses, dragon sea moths, spiny devilfsh and Bobbitt worms — all of which we truly only appreciate when Merta shows us those pages. And he would know. On the book’s credit page, Merta is listed among eight dive guides whom authors Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach thank for helping them locate the critters.One thing not mentioned in the book: Merta has even discovered a few species.

PRAYING FOR GREATNESS

It’s the last day of the dive trip, and Merta and Morgan-Grenville can’t seem to agree. We’re at Gili Tepekong, an island of the southeast coast of Bali — and just hours from where the yacht will harbor for the final night. This area is known for mola mola, aka ocean sunfish, but the season for seeing them extends only from roughly June to October. Right now, it’s April.

“It’s too early — we don’t have a prayer,” Morgan-Grenville tells us, not wanting to get our hopes up.

“They’re there,” says Merta.

And now, at 78 feet under the surface, Morgan-Grenville is gesturing wildly with his free hand, flashing a thumb up, while gripping his camera with the other.

We all fin deeper, and there, at 100 feet, is a mola mola, glowing white as the moon. Its apple-size eye follows us, its tiny mouth pursed in a pucker.

As I stare at it, and it stares back, I have to laugh. In a way, I’m not surprised. This is Bali, the land of a thousand temples and a population dedicated to its gods. With so much devotion, it’d be wrong not to expect at least a few miracles.

FIVE REASONS TO DIVE KOMODO DANCER

Tender Diving. All sites are accessed by tenders, facilitating drift diving and access to offshore pinnacles.

Local Flavor. The lunch buffet is a highlight, when the chef prepares spiced fish cakes, vegetable curries, beef satays, banana fritters and more.

Komodo Dragons. During much of the trip, no other boats are in sight. When Komodo Dancer moors of its namesake island, visiting these killers is as easy as a dinghy ride.

Day Excursions. Take time for optional land- based excursions, including a pink beach without a soul on it.

Stay for Ubud. Add a day or two to explore Ubud in Bali’s interior. You’ll tour temples, including one of the most famous,the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, home to 600 macaques.

NEED TO KNOW

When to Go

M/V Komodo Dancer devotes most of the year to seven- and 10-day treks between Bali and Labuan Bajo, on the west coast of Flores. In October and November, itineraries travel between Flores and Alor, giving guests the chance to dive with whales, plus muck critters like wonderpus, blue-ringed and starry-night octopuses.

Dive Conditions

The southern region has greener waters with temperatures ranging from 72 to 77 degrees; it’s where manta sightings are much more frequent. The northern region sees visibility of 100 feet or more, and water temperatures around 82 degrees are standard.

Operator

The 124-foot Komodo Dancer accommodates 16 guests in eight staterooms: two owner suites, two cabins with full-size beds, and the rest with bunk beds.

Price Tag

Rates start at $2,700 for seven nights, double occupancy. Deluxe and master suites are also available. Nitrox upgrades cost $100 for seven days, and $150 for 10 days.

Click here for more information on bucket-list liveaboard adventures, and make sure to check out special discount pricing for a trip aboard Komodo Dancer

Top 100: Diving in French Polynesia

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Honeymooners who arrive at the over- water bungalows of Bora Bora and Moorea are convinced they’ve found Eden. But what most of their blissed-out ilk never realize is they’ve hardly scratched the surface when it comes to all there is in fantastique French Polynesia. Divers, of course, are more clued in. Collectively known as the islands of Tahiti, this volcanic archipelago of 118 islands and atolls includes five island groups, and covers a swath of the Pacific as large as Western Europe. From bejeweled reefs to ripping passes blitzed by pelagics, it’s a lot to take in. Here’s a head start on where to get wet.

Shark Central

Many dive destinations can claim sharks, but it’s hard to think of one that delivers them in the insane abundance of the Tuamotu atolls, the largest of the five island groups, where walls of sharks are the norm. During drift dives in Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass and Fakarava’s Tumakohua Pass, hundreds of gray reef sharks congregate on the atoll’s outer wall like puzzle pieces in a toothy jigsaw, and silvertips and whitetips make appearances too. “My dive buddy wasn’t lying when he said, ‘Ain’t nobody gonna out-shark us,’” remembers San Diego diver Mark Guinto, who traveled to FP for what turned out to be the sharkiest dives of his life (gray sharks, lemon sharks, whitetips, silvertips and more). “Almost everyone was there to dive with sharks, and there were several species of them in great number,” says Guinto. Great hammerheads also are spotted fairly regularly at the passes, and tiger sharks make appearances too — making it easy to see why FP also took top honors for Best Big Animals.

Wide-Angle Wonderland

French Polynesia’s dazzlingly clear seascapes are to wide-angle photography what Lembeh is to a macro lens: the dream destination for clicking the shutter on some of the world’s most singular underwater moments, earning FP the No. 2 spot for Best Underwater Photography in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region. Excellent visibility that consistently surpasses the 100-foot mark enhances your photos, with ambient light a particularly saturated shade of blue. From the plunging walls of the Tuamotu passes and the Opunohu canyons of Moorea to Fitii pass in Huahine in the Society Islands (a calmer version of a Tuamotu-style drift), a wide-angle lens is your best friend for capturing walls of sharks, schooling jacks, mantas, dolphins and the like. “There is nowhere on Earth that compares to the stunning atolls of the Tuamotu chain when it comes to reef shark photography,” says Mike Veitch, an underwater photographer based in Bali. “The clear water and amazing abundance of sharks there is unmatched anywhere.”

Migrating Humpbacks

From mid-July to late October, visitors to Rurutu in the Austral archipelago (the southernmost group in French Polynesia) are treated to one of the ocean’s most awe-inspiring experiences — the chance to snorkel alongside humpback whales and their babies, drawn to the shallow, sheltered waters as a stopover on their migration path to Antarctica. Whaling stopped on this lagoonless island in the 1950s, and whale-watching tourism and snorkeling tours have brought a new livelihood for the people living here. The seas can be rough at this time of year, and visibility can be compromised, but when you find yourself finning alongside one of the gentle giants that come here to reproduce, calve and nurse their young, you’ll be left humbled for life.

Pelagic Paradise

Coastal and open-ocean pelagic species abound in French Polynesia, and therein lies the excitement of diving here — you never know when a great hammerhead, manta ray or tiger shark will go cruising past you. On the pearl-farming coral atoll of Manihi, mantas can sometimes be seen carousel-feeding in about 30 feet of water at the dive site called the Circus. Jacques Cousteau’s explorations in Tikehau in the Tuamotus found a higher concentration of species there than anywhere else in French Polynesia (he called the atoll the richest on Earth). Tikehau remains a pelagic gold mine for shoaling barracuda, manta rays and the usual shark denizens. And on Rangiroa, a veritable underwater Serengeti awaits.

“The concentration of colors and species was a sensory overload,” remembers Katharyne Daughtridge Gabriel, a diver who lives near London. “We saw gray sharks, whitetip sharks, barracudas, manta rays. And on the exit, I remember thinking, ‘I just foated through Jacques Cousteau’s dreams.’”

Ripping Drift Dives

Drift dives are a bit of a misnomer for the experience that awaits when you find yourself aviating through the famed atoll passes of Rangiroa, Fakarava and Tikehau in the Tuamotus. Sites like Tiputa and Avatoru passes in Rangiroa and Fakarava’s famed south pass, Tumakohua, are considered advanced dives due to the strong tidal currents pushing you into the lagoon that range between 3 and 8 knots. (Plan some refresher-level drift dives on Huahine in the Society Islands if you’re out of practice.) “It felt like I was flying next to a mountain-side,” remembers Guinto, a pilot who teaches military parachuting, of a dive at Tiputa Pass. “As a sky diver, I’ve had similar sensations.” Indeed, if any diving experience approaches the sensation of aerial acrobatics underwater, it’s the roaring passes of the Tuamotus — one reason FP was lauded as Best Advanced Diving in its region.

Pearl Farms

One of the pleasures of French Polynesia is shopping for Tahiti’s famed black pearls — which come in many sizes, shapes and colors, from black to shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine and even pink — at a local pearl farm. At destinations such as Rangiroa and Tikehau, you can borrow a bike from your dive resort and pedal along sandy lanes fringed with palms to inspect the goods, or take a tour at farms such as Gauguin’s Pearl in Rangi or Fakarava’s Pearls of Havaiki.

The Land of Gauguin

The goal is to spend as much time as possible underwater, but some of the planet’s most jaw-dropping tropical landscapes — old volcanoes glinting with rainbows and emerald slopes lapped by perfectly peeling waves — make any time spent topside a treat too. From the mist-carpeted mountains of the Marquesas, where the French artist Paul Gauguin spent his final years, to Moorea’s lush Route d’Ananas (Pine- apple Route), best explored by scooter, and the iconic extinct volcanic peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora, you’ll need extra memory cards. Add to all that lushness the barren beauty of the atolls — sandy rings lapped by turquoise water and dotted with tiny motus (islets) that materialize as you descend toward the Tuamotus — and it’s visual overload in the very best sense, making it clear why readers named French Polynesia Best Overall Destination. “Everything feels exaggerated in its beauty,” remembers Janet Malin of time spent snorkeling with sharks and rays in Moorea’s lagoons. “The electric green of the land, fuchsia flowers, water this crazy royal blue, even the locals’ tattoos.”

French Style Crepes

Shutterstock

EAT

For dining on the (relatively) cheap, alongside locals in Papeete, look for food trucks called roulottes. Skirted with picnic tables, they serve things like grilled mahimahi and French-style crepes and steaks. Can’t decide which? Look for the most crowded.

Le Cocos restaurant in French Polynesia

wedotahiti.com

DRINK

One of the best wine lists in French Polynesia — heavily French, of course — awaits at the new Moorea outpost of Le Coco’s, opened in March 2015 in Haapiti (lecocostahiti.com). Try the three-course sampler option to get a wider range of tastes.

Bungalow in Ninamu Resort

Courtesy Ninamu Resort

SLEEP

Mingle with big-wave surfers and kite surfers who also enjoy diving at Ninamu Resort (motuninamu.com) on Tikehau. The property has six bungalows and is completely of the grid, producing its own solar power and filtering its drinking water.

NEED TO KNOW

When To Go You can dive year-round in French Polynesia, but it’s rainier during the Southern Hemisphere summer, from November to March.

Travel Tip If you’re coming from the East Coast, consider staying a night in Los Angeles on your way to Tahiti. That way, you will arrive refreshed and ready to dive.

Dive Conditions Visibility in French Polynesia can reach up to 150 feet, and the water temperature averages 80 degrees.

Drive and Dive: Cold-Water Diving in British Columbia

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Every diver remembers his first time. My baptism in British Columbia waters was 25 years ago, in Discovery Passage. The midwinter plunge at a site called Whiskey Point opened my eyes to just how great cold-water diving could
be. Granted, I nearly froze to death. (You would think with 1,000 dives under my belt I would have known better than to wear a ratty, old hand-me-down wetsuit. Chalk it up to the follies of youth and the poverty of a college student.) I survived, emerging from the emerald seas stuttering excitedly about the remarkable color, the diversity of life and the magic of wolf eels.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Flash forward to February 2015. I smile to think that seminal voyage to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island began much like this one. I’ve just convinced the border agent that, yes, the purpose of our visit to Canada in the middle of a gray winter drizzle is indeed scuba diving, that we’d be taking only pictures, leaving only bubbles. Our little car is stuffed to the gills with dive gear, tanks clinking merrily at each turn in the road. We’re making a beeline for the Tsawwassen ferry, which will whisk us across to Vancouver Island. We’ll arrive at Campbell River in four hours and be underwater in the morning. Tunes are blaring. Life is grand.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Tapping his smartphone, Bill Coltart consults his favorite app and then announces that the time is nigh. “Slack should be in about 10 minutes. Make your final buddy checks and hang tight. We’ll move the boat into position.” Coltart, owner of Pacific Pro Dive, gently nudges his 30-foot, custom-built aluminum Ata’Tude close to the rocks, then stares intently downward, reading the gray-green water. Even with a lifetime of midisland ocean experience, he admits that predicting slack water in Discovery Passage — the interval between tides when water movement is at a minimum — is part science, part experience, and part adapt-on-the-fly.

Thankfully, we nail it at Whiskey Point. Dropping down a series of rocky steps carpeted in bright-yellow sponges and strawberry sea anemones, I’m amazed once again that such tropical hues exist in the cool Pacifc Northwest. At 70 feet, my computer shows 47 degrees, but who cares? (This time, we have drysuits.) Hulking lingcod are lounging about, begging to be photographed. A Puget Sound king crab clambers past like a Technicolor Humvee on a mission.

My plan is to keep moving south in hopes of finding my wolf eels of memory. But we are waylaid by a giant Pacifc octopus. It’s a pipsqueak, no bigger than my fist. This little guy is all attitude, launching off the wall and squirting a cloud of ink to bamboozle us. My wife, Melissa, sees through his anemic smoke screen and follows him down to 80 feet, where he settles on a pink-coralline-algae-covered rock and does his best sea urchin imitation. Unfortunately, a building flood tide 30 minutes later encourages us to ascend.

As soon as we break the surface, I begin babbling about the remarkable color, the diversity of life, and the magic of the octopus.

A CURRENT-POLISHED JEWEL

Vancouver Island’s bulk does a splendid job sheltering Campbell River’s dive sites from open-ocean storms and the punishing Pacifc swell. Currents, however, can scream through these inland waters — up to 16 knots in Seymour Narrows, just north of town. Current is the region’s lifeblood, a conveyor belt bringing nutrient-rich, oxygenated seawater and plentiful food to marine life large and small. It’s no surprise that Seymour Narrows is a superb dive whose sheer walls are plastered in a kaleidoscope of anemones and sea stars.

Along the Quadra Island side of the passage, at Row and Be Damned, we make a leisurely, hourlong ramble in 55 feet, over boulders smothered in billions of red anemones. We discover kelp greenlings zinging back and forth, nudibranchs, weird scaled crabs, and a reclusive tiger rockfsh, all amid ruby splendor. Our submersion coincided with the calm of slack water between modest tidal exchanges — otherwise, we would have sucked through our air in a few moments fighting against Poseidon’s sea wind.

Day two finds us weaving beneath the Argonaut Wharf, a forest of pilings from which ghostly plumose sea anemones sprout, and under which critters creep and scuttle about. Accessible by shore or boat, it’s an excellent place to encounter octopuses in less than 40 feet. Second slack is reserved for Steep Island and its garden of giant feather duster tubeworms starting at 50 feet and cascading past 100. Quillback rockfsh hover near their purple, pompom-like blooms, and divers with eagle eyes will spy outrageously painted candy-stripe shrimp under the tentacles of snakelocks anemones.

One of the few sites accessible while current is running is the HMCS Columbia, a 366-foot destroyer sunk by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia in 1996. Well prepared, with plenty to see between 60 and 120 feet, it’s a good intro to B.C. wreck diving. For the nocturnal, a night dive in Quathiaski Cove provides an opportunity to poke around the shallows, hunting for micro beasties.

STELLER SHOW

On our final day, we drive over an hour south into Comox to meet up with Coltart again at the municipal marina.

We transfer gear onto Fast Forward, his ex-Coast Guard Zodiac, and greet our dive mates, filmmakers Russell Clark and Trisha Stovel, on assignment for seaproof.tv.

Under leaden skies, we race along at 20 knots to Norris Rocks, just off Hornby Island. The raucous barking and the smell offer irrefutable proof that we’ve arrived. Hundreds of huge Steller sea lions shamble about on the low-lying rock.

Coltart smiles, asking, “Ready for the full-contact action to commence?” Trisha chimes in: “It’s like running around the woods among a massive wolf pack that uses newcomers as chew toys — in the friendliest way possible!”

We back roll into the green. Silence greets us. As do 50-odd marine mammals, eager to play. At first, the sea lions politely swim around us at arm’s length, tilting their heads like curious puppy dogs and ogling us with dreamy eyes. Minutes later, they’re mobbing us. They cuddle, lean heavily on us, and take “exploratory” bites, mouthing our arms and legs. They nuzzle against my camera, pull at coiled strobe cords and nibble our fins. If you don’t fancy being in the middle of an underwater rugby scrum, consider skipping this dive.

Two hourlong dives pass too quickly, and the boisterous throng seems truly sorry to see us go. We will dearly miss the sea-lion loving.

ITINERARY B.C., CANADA

Day One Feast on the loggers breakfast and morning glory muffins at Ideal Cafe. Dive. Dive again at an off-slack site like the Columbia. Dick’s Fish and Chips is a no-brainer for grub to refuel yourself for the third tank. Dive. Afterward, enjoy the authentic Greek and primo steaks at Acropolis Kuizina. Sleep very soundly.

Day Two Between today’s two slack dives visit the Museum at Campbell River to immerse yourself in the thousands-year-old art, culture and history of the First Nations coastal peoples. Picnic under a seaside totem pole. When you climb out of your suit after your last dive, head to funky Freddie’s Pub to meet other scubakind over wings and brew.

DAY THREE Use this as a wild-card day to customize your getaway. Be harassed by sea lions, do additional dives at premier sites such as April Point Wall and Copper Cliffs, or become one with salmon in the Campbell River. Mountain bike in Snowden Demonstration Forest. Watch grizzly bears and whales with Aboriginal Journeys, or shred the slopes at nearby Mount Washington. Let the season — and your style — decide.

NEED TO KNOW

When to Go Diving Discovery Passage is possible year-round. Visit between November and April to add sea lion dives at Mitlenatch Island or Norris Rocks. From August to October, join Pacific Pro Dive for a drift snorkel down the Campbell River to witness mighty Pacific salmon concluding their epic journey to spawn and die.

Dive Conditions Sea temperatures range from 45 to 55 degrees, and visibility 20 to 80 feet. Winter generally delivers the best viz, and summer and fall the best topside weather and warmest water. Drysuits or thick semidry wetsuits are strongly recommended. Dive with experienced locals, use a live boat, plan a submersions for slack water, and be wary of boat traffic, especially during summer.

Operators Pacific Pro Dive (pacificprodive.com)

Price Tag Custom charters are from $99 to $120 (Canadian) for two-tank air dive charters.

Diving with Schools of Barracuda

Friday, September 4th, 2015

One of the most recognizable fish that divers encounter throughout the world’s oceans is the barracuda. Its pike-shaped body and gaping, toothy mouth give it away immediately. The fish can prove surprisingly docile despite its appearance, often hovering casually in the shade of a dive boat or alongside a coral head.

There are actually more than two dozen species of barracuda, and they range widely in size. The great barracuda — a common sight in the Caribbean — can grow to nearly 6 feet long. In the Indo-Pacifc, the yellowtail barracuda tops out at only 2 feet.

Most commonly, divers spot barracuda swimming alone or in small groups of five or six, but some species can form vast schools, especially when they’re still young, because schooling provides protection from larger predators. Few underwater encounters are more thrill- ing and sought after than swimming into a spiraling vortex of barracuda.

Barracuda schools can happen all over the world, especially in deepwater destinations like the sea- mounts of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula or the mid-Atlantic Azores islands. But the reliable barracuda tornadoes that captivate underwater photographers usually happen among a specific species: the chevron barracuda (Sphyraena genie — also called blacktail barracuda), which ranges across the Indo-Pacifc.

Chevron barracuda are easy to recognize, thanks to the pattern of V-shaped black bars that adorns the sides of their bodies. And while it’s possible to see these fish form their massive schools in spots from Ras Mohammed National Park in Egypt’s Red Sea to the seamounts of Papua New Guinea’s Kimbe Bay, there’s one place that is universally renowned for encounters with thousands-strong schools of barracuda: Sipadan Island of the Malaysian side of Borneo.
The Sipadan site called Barracuda Point starts along a sheer wall where gray reef sharks and bumphead parrotfish make regular appearances, eventually leading to an underwater plateau that is ground zero for huge shoals of barracuda in tornado-like formations. There are no guarantees in diving, but this site is frequently lauded for being a sure thing for divers seeking conglomerations of the barracuda kind.