Diving in Dubrovnik
The first stop we made was for a cave dive. It was just the two of us, so Anton dropped his gear into the water after filling his BCD vest with air, and helped me into my two wetsuits, one with a hood, and then into my BCD. I dropped into the water and then he followed. I was glad that he had suggested the second wetsuit, since the water was clear but extremely cold, and got colder as we went deeper.
As we went around the walls near the island, we saw countless beds of coral, some with orange colored algae, but most with a dark green. There were sea urchins everywhere. Most of them had a half shell stuck in their thorns, despite the fact that there is no way their spines could pierce a clam shell. I think this is the same phenomenon as teenage boys who wear “Elevate and decide in the air” basketball t-shirts. Sort of a ridiculous badge of honor. Their were even albino sea urchins down there, or perhaps they were dead and had lost all their purple.
After trolling around the edge of the island, we came across a black hole in the wall. I had only about a fourth of a tank left, but Anton motioned that this was OK, and we proceeded into it. On the surface he had said that it went back about 200 meters. It seems now like this was much exaggerated, maybe my excitement caught up with me. Anton held an underwater flashlight, and I followed the light more than I followed him. The “cave” was in reality more of a crack in the wall, and I slithered through with my tank bumping against the walls on the side and above me, and tried to keep up with Anton. As we came around the edge of the cave his light disappeared several times which was unconfortable. Finally we arrived at a open area and I could see the surface of the water as Anton pointed the flashlight upward. Ascending slowly, we broke the surface. Everything was black inside the cave without Anton’s flashlight. When he shined it on the roof, a few feet above us, we could see tiny stalagtites, brownish and gooey. Anton said they looked like shark’s teeth, and I thought this was a pretty inappropriate observation at that time. We then went back into the water and he pointed to the entrance, and we could see the light blue crack from the opposite side.
As it turned out we descended to about 38 meters. I didn’t have a depth gauge on my regulator, so I had no idea. The water was so clear and bright that I had thought we hadn’t dropped beneath 15 meters or so. We were under for around 45 minutes, which was a pretty long time for the depth we were at, although this wasn’t our total bottom time.
After we ascended and rested a bit, Anton said that we would then visit a bomb dropped during WWII by the Germans, and then proceed to a wreck and then see another cave. In fact we saw three German bombs at the bottom. All of them were completely corroded and you could see that they were empty inside. Borin the cab driver had told me that some people here in Dubrovnik would take mines found around the area and stuff them into fish which would then explode in the water later. Didn’t look like there was much in the way of live ammunition down there, due in part to the heavy salt water. But one thing is for sure, war leaves even more than just death and hatred.
After we looped around the first German bomb, we descended to see the sunken ship. The hull had almost completely settled into the ocean floor so you could only see the top of it, but many other pieces of the boat remained scattered about. Anton said it was a tourist boat which had unfortunately encountered engine problems, and the Serbs had shot it down with machine guns. Only a few people had died apparently. It was strange to see such geometric shapes in the water after seeing the smooth rockiness of the coral in the earlier dive. Another bomb sat on the floor next to the wreck. Lots of fish gathered about it as well; wrecks usually provide shelter similar to natural reefs for the marine life, and this one was no different. In a few years the sea will probably have beaten it to a pulp and the ship will return to the dust. As we went in the direction of the cave, Anton seemed almost clairvoyant as he found several little octopus, and a sea eel which had a head the size of a a coke bottle and probably several feet in length. Maybe even the sea animals are interested in improving tourism in Croatia? After he found his friends, I looked and looked, but nothing ever looked different than grey sand until Anton pointed his light at something and it jetted off in a cloud of black ink.
Finally, we reach the other cave. As a now experienced cave diver, I had less anxiety in entering this one. This again was somewhat like a crack in the wall. This cave, however, opened into the air within some rocky walls going up. “This is like a little lake,” mentioned Anton. We then descended back into the water, and followed the crack down. After we reached the boat, Anton informed me that we had reached 28 meters at the lowest depth. Getting back into the boat, the fillings in my teeth stung a little bit from the pressure over the two dives.
These two dives, stretching over a few hours, cost me around $80, two dives ($58), including equipment rental ($20), the Croatian diving license good for one year (about 100 Kuna or $12), and the free boat ride out. Well worth it. Anton can be reached at 435-737, via email at [email protected] or http://diver.vdu.hr/