H.M.S Hermes - Expedition IV - (www.DiveSriLanka.com)

Fish life at the Hermes

By Dharshana Jayawardena.
August 22nd, 23rd, 24th of 2008
Depth: 53 Meters. (Technical Decompression Dive)

A thrilling encounter with a whale during the long deco stops

A high contrast image of the whale - a Minke or a Brydes whale.

In the afterlife of a great ship it was was a celebration of life.

H.M.S Hermes, the worlds first purpose built air craft carrier; one of only three divable air craft carriers in the world; the only aircraft carrier that went down in action and is divable, has lured us to its deep & mysterious world again.

Two months after our last dive at the Hermes we have returned. The seas are calm but the currents are strong, causing the descent to be almost horizontal and a struggle. With great effort we fight the stiff current and finally descend on the mid-section of the great ship; an area immediately recognized as a place we dived in June 2008 during Expedition III.

On our left we see one of the large Bofor Guns pointing almost vertically and surrounded by a large schools of Mangrove Jacks. We swim towards the South-East and explore an area just before the collapsed island superstructure. Under the enormous cavern of the Bofor Gun several lion fish stand guard; instilling a sense of trepidation to our minds under the influence of mild narcosis. Perhaps guardians & gate keepers of a world beyond, they forbid our entry further and force us to turn back. In the crowded space under the gun, a sting from a Lion Fish is a consequence we dare not contemplate at this great depth.

We ascend to the deck that is almost covered with sporadic clumps of beautiful Black Coral Trees. They sway gently in the strong current. The resemblance to a mystical & enchanted white forest on a day of gentle and cool breeze makes an arresting diversion from the hulk of the wreck. Suddenly a large form separates from the white and swims out of the forest. Its a large Potato Cod. It observes us with mild curiosity and obviously having more important chores to attend to, disappears back into the foliage with a disdainful wave of its brown tail.

As we make ourselves up to the keel an entourage of Dog Tooth Tuna approach the port side of the wreck. They settle into formation and start swimming in large circles. Perhaps the looming cloud of Mangrove Snappers are their target. As the cloud lumbers towards us Great Barracuda, Pick Handle Barracuda and Giant Trevally float into sight. It seems that the Hermes is the stage for an eternal game of hide and seek as predator and prey constantly try to outwit each other.

Time is running short. Our twenty minutes bottom time is up and we find our way back to the anchor line. As we ascend we longingly look at the amazing subterranean world we are about to leave. It is with a great sense of sadness we realize that it will be many a day before we are blessed with sight of this wonderful ship again.

We start our deep stop decompression sequence and initiate our long ascent. As we rise above the murky depths the visibility improves and we are in considerably clear blue water. But it seems the dive is not over. At six meters a sleek gray form suddenly appear in our vision. Surprised, at first we are unable to make out what exactly this large creature is; even though our minds are now completely free from the webs of narcosis from down below. While we fumble desperately to switch on our video gear, it slips gently away, rising towards the surface at the same time. It is a Whale. Not a leviathan but a smaller Minke or Brydes Whale. It is now too far away to aquire clear footage. However we continue shooting as the Whale takes a deep breath at the surface and then plunges to the depths of the ocean and disappears for ever from our entranced gazes.

Just as we were leaving this world of water, Hermes had given us a parting gift. The sight of the whale had just made what was a great dive a fantastic dive. A dive to be forever remembered & constantly revisited in our trips down the memory lane in years to come.

Perched in a pedestal of history and surrounded by fantastic big fish action, the H.M.S Hermes is undisputedly one of the greatest wreck dives in the world!

Other expeditions to the Hermes

Pictures & writing is the property of DiveSriLanka.com - view our copyright policy

Large dog tooth Tuna can be seen in August & September

So can large Potato Cods which can be approached quite closely

The huge schools of Mangrove Jacks are like huge dark rain clouds over the Hermes

<Back to the Hermes home page (for details of other expeditions)

Pictures & writing is the property of DiveSriLanka.com - view our copyright policy