Fakarava: South Pass Dives

The dive shops in south Fakarava were heavily booked, because the day before we arrived, all the staff from the resort’s dive shop quit their jobs. Apparently the owner is a bad boss. There was something else on the rumor mill about a shop losing its license, and we’re not clear on whether that’s the same one. But there was a big glut of tourists coming in to see the grouper spawning at the full moon (which had happened the next month), and everyone left in business was slammed.

Still, we managed to get added to a dive on a packed boat, and once again borrowed a leak-free second stage for Jazz from Sava, who had arrived shortly after us. We headed out into the pass and did two dives, both of which were drifts in more or less gentle current. Highly recommend the dives if you’re here, though we’d give the Enata dive shop a hard miss. Video first; we’re trying a new thing and including some commentary.

The coral was pretty healthy in the pass, which was nice to see.

Our first dive was aimed at “the shark ball”, and we stopped in a cave around 85 feet and watched just a huge number of sharks slowly circling. 85 feet is not ideal for photography, but this gives at least some sense of the scale of the event.

85 feet is also pretty deep to hang out on an air dive, so we moved on, and continued to see just an absolute ton of sharks.

There was also the occasional big humphead wrasse. On the right, the same fish as a much smaller (and more colorful) juvenile. Still big for a wrasse, but nothing compared to its 4′ later stage.

Here’s the rest of the group, aggressively chasing that same wrasse, and then again later chasing sharks. They were kind of a hot mess.

In the critter department, there was this one tiny thing we can’t identify. And there were a number of pineapple sea cucumbers. In general it was hard to see small stuff, both because we were drifting, and because the guide was hauling the group at a breakneck pace, apparently trying to out-distance the current. We both came up after 45 minutes with tons of air left over.

It was much easier to see the fish, partly because they were moving and because there were just so many of them. We saw a lot of big triggerfish, mostly yellowmargins like the one on the left, and titans like the one on the right (with its identifying Snidely Whiplash mustache).

Here’s a chevroned butterflyfish, two reticulated butterflyfish, and a regal angelfish.

A yellowfin surgeonfish, and achilles tang, bravely approached close to the camera; there were lots of both of these but most were more skittish.

A couple of parrotfish. These guys come in all kinds of colors; check out the pink on that second one! It’s tricky to identify the exact type when the colors are so distorted by the depth.

Here’s a sabre squirrelfish and a pinktail triggerfish, both helpfully showing identifying features.

A brick soldierfish, and some kind of bream; we can’t identify it but love how smug it looks sitting there.

There were some great big schools, like the blustreak fusillers in the first picture which just went on and on for days. Or the unicornfish in the last picture, going nuts and puffing up their dorsal fins.

All in all, two great dives. Healthy coral, tons of fish, and sharks sharks sharks!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.