The Hunt For Mola-Mola

With one thing in particular on everyone’s mind we were all looking forward to a great weekend ahead. A relaxing few days away from the hubble and bubble of Dubai; no phone signal; no internet coverage; good company; amazing diving, etc., etc. You get the idea. The main topic of conversation on Thursday evening and throughout the weekend was the probability of seeing a Mola-Mola (sunfish). Normally pretty illusive in Musandam waters, but not unheard of, the excitement was palpable. Riding on the crest of a wave of frequent sightings during recent weeks and social media buzzing with videos and pictures taken by fellow divers (‘The Mola-Mola Whisperer’ himself being one of them), our confidence was high.

Day One started off well enough, with a relatively current free dive on White Rock (unheard of), followed by Mother of Mouse and the last dive of the day, Ras Dilla.  Vis on all three dives was reasonable with a variety of marine life keeping the photographers busy. All the signs of a successful diving weekend! Or so you would think!

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As each dive passed, the list of kit issues grew. At one stage it seemed as if we had inadvertently wandered onto the set of a ‘How Not To Go Diving’ educational film. What with ‘Grumpy Pants’ scooter not working on Dive One and a damaged mask sometime before Dive Two he wasn’t having the best morning. Likewise, ‘Chuckster the Huckster’ was having fun and games with his tank. With a suspected blown O-ring, he was using gas faster than normal and after taking off his kit underwater to take a closer look, took the sensible decision to abort his dive. The kit issues didn’t stop there either. Dive Three brought more bloops and bloomers with ‘The Girl With The Curl’s dry suit leaking (the result of a sea urchin puncture from an earlier dive) and a forgotten memory card making her camera a redundant item throughout the dive – a sure sign that the Mola-Mola would finally turn up. With teasing comments regarding buoyancy control and thorough pre-dive kit checks flying around during the fast boat trips back to the Dhow, it is probably no surprise that the end of the diving day came as somewhat of a relief. At least if the diving had finished for the day, no more kit problems could surface.

All that said, despite ‘a few’ unforeseen kit challenges, the day went well. No Mola-Mola yet, but plenty of other marine life to enjoy. Shoals of jack, barracuda, turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, moray eels, and much more. All topped off by a stunning sunset and some light refreshments whilst dinner under the stars was prepared.

It is amazing how, after a day of diving and fresh air, 2000hrs seems much later and with a crack of dawn dive planned for the following day, most were early to bed. So early in fact that ‘The Girl With The Curl’ was wide awake and ready to start diving again at 0100hrs! Hmmm, a bit early even by Sheesa standards!

Day Two brought the usual early morning start with ‘The Mola-Mola Whisperer’ leading the rest of the pack into the unknown. (It was Ras Sarkan actually but that doesn’t sound as dramatic!).  At first it always seems like an insane concept, getting up in the dark at 0445hrs just to jump into cold, pitch-black water. But once you have had that first cup of coffee, enjoyed the pre-dawn stars and the amazing phosphorus luminescence as the boat speeds across to the dive site, it quickly starts to feel like a good idea. So good in fact that those opting for a lie in and later start seem like the stupid ones. And today, as is often the case, we were in for a good dive. Defensive cuttlefish, sleeping turtles and sting rays, that surreal lightening of the water as the sun starts to creep over the horizon above us, surfacing just in time to witness a glorious sunrise. Magical.

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After a hearty breakfast (the variety of food Chef Rajesh produces in the tiny cubicle laughing called a kitchen never ceases to amaze me), Dives Four – Marovi Island and Five – Wonder Wall, quickly followed. Again, with good (for Musandam) viz and slightly increased water temperatures, we had some great dives. Seahorses, more rays and turtles, the list goes on. A slight current on Marovi Island, but anything worth having is worth working hard for. Right? Those who had mocked the previous day were soon eating their words as they too succumbed to kit issues.   Leaking camera housing, corrupt memory cards (credit should at least be given for remembering the memory card I suppose) and half empty tanks at the start of the dive meant that there were very few, if any ‘kit issue free’ divers left by the end of Dive Six.

The Mola-Mola? It wasn’t to be unfortunately. With each dive, we hoped the next corner would bring that magical moment where, through the gloom, its distinctive shape would appear. Of course we weren’t holding our breath (as that would be silly and dangerous), but the anticipation that any minute we would be screaming into our regs and frantically snapping away on the cameras was there throughout. Right until the very end of the last minute, on the last dive, of the last day.

With kit packed and the Dhow heading back to port, all that was left was for everyone to catch a few z’s in the afternoon sun in preparation for the drive home. Making port in good time and reasonably quick queues at the border checkpoint, the journey home was swift.

All in all, a lovely weekend with great diving, lots of fun, frolicks and banter.  Just what a Sheesa weekend is made of!

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