Wednesday 5 December 2012

The underwater experience

In an earlier article, I had written about the coral island of Netrani which is near Murudeshwar which is ten nautical miles away.
Many of my friend and visitors to the blog have asked me about the facilities available in and around the island and whether they can view the corals off Netrani island if they cannot swim.
Yes, you do not need to know swimming to see the corals. Swimming is a must if you want to go underwater exploring or or if you are interested in scuba diving. You need not know swimming to go for snorkeling.
Moreover, the waters off the Netrani island are clean and crystal clear. The depth too is not much. However, the Arabian Sea can be rough and the best time for scuba diving, snorkeling and diving is between mid October to May.
The underwater visibility is 15 metres to 40 metres.
However, you need to know swimming and undergo some basic courses in scuba diving and snorkeling if you are going to visit big fish spots which are deeper than 18 metres below water.
Murudeshwar  offers scuba gear, snorkeling and diving equipment. If you are in Bangalore many clubs offer vacations to Netrani including scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming. The prices start from Rs. 5,000.
If you are in Goa, the package to Netrani is costly as it is 225 kms away.
Get onto a boat to Netrani and enjoy water sports. If you are going for the first time, take a swimming costume, water proof cap, floaters and slippers, shirts and t-shirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, biscuits, energy drinks, water in bottles, torches, water proof watch, camera and allergy medicine.
If you are prone to sea sickness, get some tablets and medicine from the local chemist or medical shop. Avoid a heavy meal or breakfast before jumping into the water. Take some juice and it will come in handy when you surface.
Do not descend quickly. Take you time and go slow. You will enjoy the experience. If you happen to go in fast, your ears will start paining as you cannot equalise. Surface slowly and relax and after the pain subsides go in again and this time slowly.   
The marine life is worth an experience. The corals here my not compare to the corals in Andamans or the scuba experience in Goa. However, the calm and clear wayters and the abundance of marine life is worth a dive.
Marine biologists and locals blame the Indian Navy for some of the damage caused to the corals by repeated shelling in the Netrani island. The shelling has almost stopped and the coral is thriving with fishes.
This is corroborated by a survey which was reported in the Indian
Journal of Fisheries. The survey on the Coral fish diversity in Netrani waters by Sujitha Thomas, Miriam Paul, Sreerami, V. S. Kakati, Mary K Manisser and Rani Mary says the fish diversity associated with coral reef patches was investigated by visual
census method.
It sampled four sites around the island and recorded 69 species belonging to 39 genera, 19 families and 3 orders.
The prices for scuba diving starts from Rs. 3,500 and there are a variety of  water sports available. The prices go up if you go in for a regular scuba diving and snorkeling trip.
The best way to explore the underwater life is by diving from boats. The boats generally do not carry any eatables and it is also advisable not to eat heavily before going in for scuba diving. Eat light and rub your skin with creams you are comfortable with.  
Murudeshwar offers plenty of shops renting out scuba gear.
If you like photography, take a water proof camera.
The big fish are generally not be seen but I once saw a Whale Shark. Some of my friends and locals have also reported seeing this monster. The are  plenty of trigger fishes, butterfly fishes honey comb moray eel and scorpion fish.
All I san cat is that you have to go underwater to experience marine life. This itself is an adventure worth experiencing. Happy snorkeling and scuba diving.

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