Friday, April 06, 2012

Sea-walking with Nemo in the Andamans

It’s been a while since I used this blog as anything other than a warehouse for my official writing, but since I've just returned from a very nice trip to the Andamans, here's a recommendation for anyone who plans to visit those lovely islands in the near future.

A big highlight of our stay was the sea-bed walk a little way off the North Bay coast (which is a 20-minute ferry ride from Port Blair). This wasn’t on our initial itinerary, but we lucked out massively: a company named Sea Link Adventures brought this activity to India for the first time last month, which means we were among the first few groups of people to try it here.

It was terrific. Basically you go down to a depth of around 20-25 feet, walk around on the sea-bed (in a net-enclosed space of roughly 400 square metres) and spend around 20 minutes gaping at corals and fish. For the first-timer, it’s simpler than scuba-diving (which we also did): you don’t need to practice breathing through your mouth; the only apparatus you carry is a (fairly heavy) helmet that keeps your whole head dry and lets you breathe as you do on land. Which means that once you’ve adjusted to the buoyancy and the general otherworldliness of the setting, you can walk about with the guides and take in the sights without worrying about such things as water getting into a face mask or regulator.

We have some nice pictures from our walk (see below), but even these don’t capture the more ethereal aspects of the experience: I had something resembling an out-of-body moment when I fed a school of fish with my bare hands and felt dozens of little mouths nibbling at my fingers.

“With fronds like these, who needs anemones?”

Also loved the Clownfish flitting in and out of their sea anemones. Finding Nemo was a great film, but when you see the real thing up close you realise how quickly the line between animation and live-action can get blurred. The colours here matched anything created by the best Pixar technicians working on that movie. You can see them in these two photos (click to enlarge):






(Don’t miss the little one on the left of the second picture, who appears to be sitting on the anemone. And the pen-shaped fish floating just above him. The great thing about the photos we have is that there are many little details in each one – you have to enlarge and look two or three times before you can take it all in.)

I’m told Sea Link is planning to take the sea-bed walk to Havelock Island too, which sounds excellent because the waters there are clearer than on North Bay. Do put this on your schedule if you’re going (and email me for contact numbers etc – I don’t think the company has a functioning website yet).

16 comments:

  1. How were the photos taken? Underwater camera?

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  2. Ashok: yes. The accompanying divers have their own cameras and you get the photos on a CD after the walk.

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  3. How much does the trip cost for 2 people (modest budget)?

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  4. what a thrilling experience it must have been...this activity wasn't there when we visited A&N in 2005..

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  5. This should have been an interesting experience! You are quite right about the warehouse comparison. Before a couple of years (or was it longer), we used to visit your blog for those occasional humorous posts. But these days, your blog seems to have become very serious!

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  6. Dropping a message to get the contact details - the family is going for a trip in November and I really want them to do this! Thank you so much for sharing this. My email is naina@aside.in

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  7. these days, your blog seems to have become very serious!

    DI: hmm, I don't really get the correlation between "non-work-related" and "humorous" posts. A lot of my reviews have had a light-ish tone - and then there are always pieces like the one about the Hrishikesh Mukherjee zombie film!

    Naina: just mailing you.

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  8. Planning to visit Andamans next month. My mail id is ravikri@yahoo.com. Do mail me Sealink's contact numbers.

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  9. Awesome. read this Just in time. I am going to Havelock on the 13th.What are their contact details? Do they operate let evenings and early mornings? We have 15th late evening and early 16th morning in Port Blair.
    My e mail id
    msthakar@gmail.com
    Thanks

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  10. Exactly. You used to write quite a number of non-work related posts in your blog earlier. I remember a nice piece about earthquake in delhi and a tv journalist messing up his interview with AB. I hope you write more general topics (like this post) in future.

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  11. harshsoodhs1@gmail.com

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  12. Hi..thanks for the info..sounds exciting..we are going to andaman next week..can u please post sealinks contact no???

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  13. Okay, finally read a blog about our company. I'm really very delighted! By the end of this year we also plan on introducing other water related activities. For further details and booking related information please contact:
    Mr. Faiz Asif
    Owner
    Sea Link Adventures
    Ph: 09474263636

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  14. I did the Sea Walk just a few days back.It is awesome and one doesn't have to go to Pattaya or Mauritius to do it.The school of fish play with you and the feeding time is thrilling.Your Andaman trip remains incomplete till you do the Sea Walk.The cost includes your transfer from the hotel to the jetty to a trip by speed boat, sea walk (30 mins) and back to hotel.

    Sudipta, Kolkata

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