Sunday, October 15, 2017

Summer sailing and snorkeling in Dalmatia - part 2

From Lastovo we sailed to Korčula, it was a fast and bumpy sailing with more SE wind than forecast. We made a stop in small bay Uvala Poplat in late afternoon. We were anchored quite near the rocky coast and some other boats, so it was definitely not a place for the night. So after a short deliberation we decided to do a night sailing to Vis. The forecast was almost no wind and a clear night, so we were anticipating a couple of hours of motoring under the moon and stars with a drink in our hands. We sailed off right after the dinner and waited for the wind to die. But it didn't, it even got stronger. So we had fast and again bumpy sailing with no moon and stars and definitely no drinks. Near island of Vis wind even turned to N and sailing got more uncomfortable. Shortly after midnight we were in a bay in front of town Vis. Since last time we were there they placed the buoys almost across all the bay so it took us another hour to find a spot for anchoring. Water was deep, almost 15m, and captain was not very happy with how we were anchored. But space was limited and we were too tired to search for another spot. Finally we got to bed. 

But we didn't sleep for long. At about 5 in the morning it started to rain and the wind picked up. Captain and myself got up, he checked our anchor and the situation outside and I checked the hatches. Everything was fine, except for the big catamaran that was dragging the anchor and was coming directly at us. Captain got quite nervous at the prospect of Heron being straddled by such a big cat, our anchor surely wouldn't hold both ships and behind us were some more boats and the coast. We stayed outside and watched what was going to happen. As the cat was coming closer we saw that the whole crew was on deck, each holding a bumper, and that with a bit of luck they are going to miss us. What we couldn't understand was why they had the engines on, but were just standing around and watching. In couple of minutes they were at our side, crew holding the bumpers between the boats. And that was it. The cat's engines were on, but they were just hanging at our side while the rain was making us all wet. Captain said there was no need for both of us to get wet and he sent me inside, and I thought he will be in in couple of minutes. After half an hour I went out again and the situation was unchanged - cat was at our side, Hungarian crew were holding bumpers between the boats and the cat's engines were on. I got quite angry and Captain and myself started to urge the cat's captain to do something - they would need to lift the anchor and re-anchor the boat. After a lot of persuasion, some with raised vices, they took our advice and moved the boat further away and re-anchor. Happy that we weren't in their "line of fire" any more we finally went to bed.

Next morning crew dinghied to town of Vis for a bit of sightseeing, some shopping and of course some ice cream. Later we moved to Uvala Parja just outside of the bay for a swim and a walk through abandoned military tunnels. In the evening we made a short but fast sail to island of Šolta and anchored in Uvala Tatinja. Šolta is one of my favourite snorkelling places in Adriatic, especially it's West side. There are several bays there, almost fjords, with deep water and steep shores, and there are no hotels or mass tourism, so it's very rich with life.

It was too late already for snorkelling that evening, so it had to wait until after the breakfast the next day.  This is a Sredozemski stožec or Mediterranean cone (Conus mediterraneus), and although ti looks quite harmless it is actually a predator with small poisonous harpoon.

This pretty slug was one of my best discoveries - it is a Kodrasti perjaničar or Giant Doris (Hypselodoris picta).

This one might be a bit less spectacular, but it is also my first - it is a Blenny, named Velikooka babica (Lipophrys trigloides). Though at first glance I thought it was a Goby.

This year was definitely a year of small slug called Pisanček (Thuridilla hopei). I never before saw so many, and as I was going through the photos on my computer at home, I discovered them on many photos where I actually photographed something else and didn't see the slugs at that time.

In the afternoon we sailed towards North, it was time to turn back. We made a stop in Luka Grebaštica for dinner.

Later, after the sunset, we sailed off again, only a couple of miles further and anchored for the night between island Prvič near Šibenik and mainland.

Next day we sailed back to town of Tribunj. After some swimming at small island nearby and later a great lunch at Konoba Bepo we said goodby to our crew. Captain an I sailed back to island Zmajan, this time there were more boats and people on land and it wasn't as idyllic and quiet as the first time we were there.

Next morning I went snorkelling and I met this shiny fish, which looks like Orada or Seabream (Sparus aurata), just without the dark spot on the gills.

And this was another big discovery - I managed to find a Pikasti perjaničar or Dalmatinček or Dotted seaslug (Discodoris atromaculata). It is one of the prettiest slugs and I thing the name Dalmatian (as the dogs) is very suitable. It is eating the sponge it is on and you can see the damage it has already done. The small crown on his upper part in first photo is his gills.

Next morning we sailed further South. We made a stop near Rogoznica, had a breakfast and I went snorkelling. I've seen many of the "usual suspects", I even found a small octopus. One of the most interesting things I saw was green algae named Grmičasti kodij (Codium vermilara).

That afternoon we anchored on island Drvenik Veli in bay Uvala Solinska. It was less crowded than Krknjaši, but also less pretty.

Next morning we sailed further on to island Šolta again, this time to bay Uvala Kasjun on East side. The bay is very pretty, rocky with lots of pine trees on the shores. I was surprised that Heron was the only bigger boat there, all others were smaller motor boats that we knew would not stay for the night.

Right after anchoring I put on my mask and fins and jumped into water. I was very pleasantly surprised! I didn't expect as much life here in a channel facing the big city of Split as on the outer side, but it was just as beautiful.

There were many Hydroids Morski Grmički (Eudendrium), of different forms and shapes.

This Solitary coral is named Kamnita čašica (Caryophyllia).

This Jelenka or Mistery blenny (Parablennius incognitus) was posing for me, displaying it's fins and horns.

The coast was rocky with lots of overhangs and there I found Mrki glavač or  Rock goby (Gobius paganellus).

And one more kind of Blenny that I haven't seen before - it is a Dalmatinska babica or Adriatic blenny (Lipophrys adriaticus).

On the rocky shore I saw many crabs - this is a Marogasta rakovica or Marbled crab (Pachygrapsus marmoratus)

This one is not new to me, but it looked so pretty sitting on an orange sponge - it is a Črnoglava babica or Black-headed blenny (Lipophrys nigriceps)

We had all this beauty to ourselves from evening to next morning. Probably thanks to the fact that there were no hotels or restaurant nearby.

Next morning I went snorkelling even before breakfast - I was so impressed with what I saw the day before. This is a Marmornata morska vetrnica  or Trumpet anemone (Aiptasia mutabilis).

This is a Rdeči sprehajalček or Red-black triplefin (Tripterygion tripteronotus), this time in more dull, non-mating colours, but with parasite.

Under one of the overhangs I found two Brancin or  European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).

There were also clusters of Jadranska kamena korala or Pillow coral (Cladocora caespitosa), it is the only coral in Mediterranean that is building coral reefs.

These guys are really big, this one looked like it weight 1kg. It is a Kosmelj or Warty crab (Eriphia verrucosa).

Couldn't resist this pretty face - it is again Jelenka or Mistery blenny (Parablennius incognitus).

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Summer sailing and snorkeling in Dalmatia - part 1

Oh my. This must be the longest break in our blog until now. I'll try to make it up in next couple of posts with lots of photos.

This year's sailing season started much later than usual. Our lives got more complicated and busy over the winter and on top of things Captain had a meniscus surgery at the end of April. So it wasn't until end of June before we even started to think about sailing. 

We decided to spend most of the summer in Dalmatia. Captain left Krk and sailed South already at the beginning of July and I joined him later that month in Tribunj, small town near Šibenik. We also had some friends aboard. 

Let me first say that Dalmatia is really beautiful, thousands of small islands with abundance of anchorages and clear emerald sea, true paradise for sailing. And for snorkelling as well. Ok, it takes a bit of planning to find an anchorage where there isn't already 500 anchored boats, where you can anchor without paying for anchoring or for the obligatory mooring buoy, and where you're not too close to the route of the big ships that would produce a huge swell every 15 minutes. Luckily our friends wanted a quieter holiday as well, so we focused on bays without a town or village or even restaurant, and managed to mostly stay away from the crowd. We had a rough idea to sail South to Pelješac peninsula and back to Tribunj in 10 days.

We spent first night in Uvala Zaražanj on island Zmajan. It is a very pretty place and while there were many small motor boats in the bay during the day, only two more boats stayed for the night. Next day we sailed South and made a stop in town of Primošten. We had three teenagers on board and you can't just sail all day without making a stop for an ice cream or at least towing them behind the boat on a rope with a fender, and we did both. That night we made it to Uvala Mala Rina on island Drvenik Mali. Not the prettiest bay or the best anchorage, but it was already late and we had enough sailing for that day. 

Next day we started early and sailed to Uvala Krknjaši on Drvenik Veli. This is a really pretty place with almost tropical feel to it, unfortunately lots of boaters like it as well. We had a big late breakfast and did some swimming there. When the anchorage got too crowded we sailed on towards Šolta, the plan was to just sail on the SW side of the island until we find a pretty bay to anchor for the night. But once we reached NW tip of the island, wind was almost from E and we realised it would be much easier to sail to island Hvar than to tack (zig-zag) along the Šolta. So we set sails for Hvar, sailed by the town of Hvar and then meandered through really big boats to Pakleni otoci and anchored in Uvala Taršče on Sveti Klement. We were surprised to have found only a few boats anchored in such a pretty bay.

The crew went for a swim in lovely warm blue-green sea, and I just had to go snorkelling. It was already my third day on the boat and I haven't done any snorkelling yet. I snorkelled in this bay already couple of years back, so I knew what to expect. One of the prettiest things I saw was a Cardinal fish or Morski kraljiček (Apogon imberbis), it is just of such a pretty colour. And it reminds me of Caribbean, I've seen Cardinal fish there very often.

The brown sponge next to Orange encrusting sponge is Krompirjasta spužva or Chicken liver sponge (Chondrilla nucula), the thing that looks like a pendulum is how it does asexual reproduction.

This is a delicate Črnoboka babica or Longstriped blenny (Parablennius rouxi).

After swimming we changed plans again - while we were actually going to cook dinner on boat that night, we decided it would be a waste to not visit Dionis reasturant, since we were already so close. And a short walk over the island would do us good. We were glad we decided this way - the walk was pleasant, scenery beautiful, and the food fantastic. I'm so glad Dionis manages to maintain the high quality of food even in high season and so it remains one of my favourite restaurants in Adriatc.

The weather started turning already after we returned to the boat, the wind got stronger and stronger, changed the direction to  SW and unpleasant waves were getting into the bay. So in the morning we sailed off even before breakfast. First two hours were wild and bumpy, but then the weather started to calm down a little and in early afternoon we found shelter in Uvala Porat on island Ščedro. What a contrast to bumpy sailing in an almost cold breeze! After a big brunch we all enjoyed the sun and clear warm see.

Needless to say - I went snorkelling. I think this is an overgrown Grbasti čeladnik or Helmet schell (Galeodea echinophora).

I also met this poor guy - it is Jelenoroga babica or Zvonimir's blenny (Parablennius zvonimiri) with Ribja uš or Parasitic Isopode (Anilocra physodes). You can see the structure of the eyes of the parasite and the hooks with which it is attached to the fish

This pretty blenny is Jelenka or The mistery blenny (Parablennius incognitus). I'm still wondering what the black oval thing with white rim and three white dots left below the fish might be, it is too symmetrical to be a rock or a piece of algae. But I wasn't able to find any shell or snail  that would look like that.

I know I posted a lot of photos of Pisani pokrovčkar or Red tube worm (Serpula vermicularis) already in previous posts, but this one is again so pretty.

And another blenny - it is again Jelenoroga babica or Zvonimir's blenny (Parablennius zvonimiri), in a bit different colours.

Later that afternoon we sailed off and in the evening anchored in a bay near Kučište on Pelješac peninsula. After some swimming and a delicious dinner we had a long and peaceful night.

Next morning we took a closer look at town of Korčula.

Then we sailed along Pelješac peninsula to the town of Orebič.

We anchored near the island Majsan for a break and some swimming. And I did some snorkelling. I met this pair of Fratrc or Two-banded seabreams (Diplodus vulgaris).

This is a particularly "blond" Skalni glavač or Giant goby (Gobius cobitis).

And another beauty - Rdeči sprehajalček or Red-black tripplefin (Tripterygion tripteronotus).

Already the scenery, even without fish, was pretty and colourful.

I think I managed to take photos of more blennies than ever before - this is Rdečepikasta babica or Caneva's blenny (Lipophrys canevai).

If it wasn't for the sea grass, this Morski jezik or Flounder (Arnoglossus) would remain invisible.

Since we managed to sail this far in only couple of days, our ambitions grew bigger and instead of turning back we decided to sail to Lastovo next. On the way we stopped for a short swim at one of the small islands called Lastovnjaci, and in late afternoon anchored in Skrivena luka in Lastovo where we stayed for the night.

Next morning we moved to a bay just around the corner called Uvala Uska. After a big breakfast it was time for swimming for everybody and for snorkelling for me.

I found my first octopus this year. I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but I really see less and less of them every year. And the ones I see are smaller than what I was seeing some years ago. I hope that more of them survive in deeper water (where it is too deep for me to snorkel), or that they manage to bounce back during winter, but I'm really worried for them. I've seen many boats hunting for them in the late evenings and the spears people use for hunting are getting longer, and more and more locals and boaters do spear fishing. The problem is that they are delicious and although I eat them very rarely, I might have to stop eating them altogether, it could be the only thing I can do to help.

I was so happy when I took the photos of this pretty crab I haven't seen before. I immediately checked all my books to find out his identity, but he was nowhere to be found. Regardless of how much I studied the photos, my books, on-line resources, there was no crab in references that would have little blue horns, gold spots on every joint and wear eyeliner. When I already gave up, I accidentally checked this link  that I bookmarked a few years ago when searching names for the fish I photographed. And there it was, my crab. The only thing that seemed really strange was that it was photographed in Tobago. But at least I had the name - it is a  Nimble spray crab or "Sally Loghtfoot" (Percnon gibbesi). I did some more on-line searching and find out that it is native to both sides of Atlantic and to Pacific coast of North America, and that it is an invasive species in Mediterranean, first recorded in 1999 on Sicily, but already spread to Adriatic in 2014. That explains why it isn't mentioned in resources about Adriatic and Mediterranean. It is not yet known wether it has any negative implication for the native species. But then invasion is almost never good, human, animal or otherwise. It is very pretty though and I hope it is not one of the "really bad guys".

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thailand, Koh Tao - part 4

When the wind from NE or E was stronger, there were many fishing boats anchored in our bay, since it was so well protected. But on this morning it was very calm, and still these two were dancing around one another for almost an hour to get anchored and tied side by side. Maybe the crews just wanted to have breakfast together.

Only on two days wind was blowing from SE and rolled some waves into our bay, normally sea was calm and visibility in the water good even when the E or NE wind was strong. From what we've seen, the bays on E, N and even on W side got quite choppy and water less clear. I guess we were really lucky with our hotel and it's location, especially since I chose it from the photos on the Internet without any deep knowledge about the location, winds and surroundings.

Here are some more snorkelling photos. We found this pretty Cowry shell in our bay.

I know you've seen one or two of these Groupers in my previous posts, but I just couldn't stop photographing them. I named them Pyjama groupers.

These are Buterflyfish, very similar to Racoon buterflyfish from Maldives.

I was amazed of how many Mushroom corals there were in some places.

I'm not sure what this is, could be a zoanthid, but even more mysterious are the round things on the left lower edge of it - a couple of anemones maybe. I only discovered them while studying the photos on my computer at home.

This one has many names, my favourite is Zig-Zag oyster.

These must be Cup corals, I've never seen green ones yet.

And this one looks like Acropora coral.

This one is quite similar to Blacktip grouper, that we often saw in Maldives.

Again I don't know what this shiny turquoise stuff is, it looks like it is encrusting a branch of Acropora coral.

Different Parrotfish

And a Pyjama grouper once more - this time because of it's pretty blue fins draped around him.

With this one I'm totally clueless - I've never seen anything like it, so I'm not even sure if it's a plant or an animal. I saw several more, but they were difficult to spot despite their colour, since they were 1 - 2 cm small.

Here is the sea urchin section - first is a Slate pencil sea urchin ...

... these are Diademas or Long spine sea urchins ...

... and here is a Diadema detail.

This photo is not just pretty because of the colourful anemone in which the Clownfish are sitting, but I also think that the orange spots above the anemone where the smaller Clownfish is, are their eggs.

This is a Fan worm, I've seen plenty of similar ones in Caribbean and in Adria.

Couldn't resist posting another photo of Christmas Tree worms.

A blue sponge

And one more Parrotfish.

We had a really great time in Koh Tao, lots of adventures, snorkelling, nice people and great food. If it weren't for the long journey, I'd go back tomorrow.

Here is one more sunset, photo was taken from our balcony at Pinnacle hotel.