HMS Perseus (N36)

Perhaps the top WW II wreck dive in Mediterranean, British Overseas Patrol submarine HMS/M Perseus, (N36) lies virtually intact on the sandy bottom, at 52 meters depth, about a mile off the south coast of Kefalonia.

Perseus submarine is not only among the most impressive wreck dives a diver can experience, but has an amazing history as well. The vessel was on combat patrol in December 1941, and while cruising at the surface at night hit an Italian naval mine and sunk. From the crew of 59 only one, the Royal Navy leading stoker John Capes managed a daredevil escape from a depth no one has attempted before, swam his way to Katelios and with the aid of locals escaped capture from Italian and German occupation forces and finally transferred in Turkey. While legendary in Royal Navy, almost nobody believed his adventure until in 1997 a team of Greek divers located the submarine and verified details of his described escape.

The divers approaching the submarine encounter a magnificent vessel 88 meters long, with a large conning tower, the ship’s gun and the rear hutch still open indicating the escape route of John Capes, while a look in the interior is possible. Among other things, the torpedo tubes and the ship’s propellers and rudder are visible.

The submarine is practically an artificial reef and colorful sponges, small fish and aquatic creatures take shelter here, while predators like amberjacks and snappers are frequent visitors.

The average depth or the dive is 40 m, while the max is 50, reserving the submarine for experienced and technical divers. The visibility is usually greater than 25m while temperature ranges between 18-24 C in summer months, depending on depth. Occasionally there may be strong currents close to the surface. Boat ride duration 15′.

 

 

Kakava Amphorae Yard

“Kakava” is an extended ancient wrecks site, once believed to be a submerged village. There is an abundance of amphorae, primarily from Roman era wrecks with at least one from 2nd century BC. Around the reef more evidence of ancient to modern day wrecks are present, such as steel ship parts and huge coal pieces, marking the resting place of an unknown steamboat. Schools of damselfish hover against the current attracting predators such as snappers, Mediterranean barracudas and amberjacks. Parrotfish, brown meagres, groupers and octopuses occupy every recess and crevice along the reef. The dive site is situated between the two main nesting beaches for Loggerhead sea turtles around Kefalonia “Kaminia” and “Skala”, so chances to catch sight of one looking for her next meal, are quite high.

The average depth or the dive is 8 m, while the max is 12 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 22-27 °C in summer months. Occasionally a weak surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 6′.

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Tilemachos’ Cave

Out of the seagrass meadows (“Posidonia oceanica”) a lone reef rises, a death trap to ancient vessels passing through the area. At least 2 of those wooden merchant ships once roaming the Mediterranean, have found their final resting place here, scattering their ballast stones, lead and bronze parts of their hull and rigging and scores of amphorae – their primary cargo, proving the area a puzzle to seamen through the ages.

On the underside of a long shallow rocky ridge, a small yet impressive underwater cave awaits to be explored. The dark chamber in the rock features two side-openings and one on the top acting as a skylight shedding ample light into the interior, rewarding the daring diver with spectacular views. Also a variety of fish and quite often Loggerhead sea turtles are frequent visitors to the site.

The average depth or the dive is 7 m, while the max is 12 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 22-27 °C in summer months. Occasionally a weak surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 5′.

Sponge Walls

There is no better spot for macro photographers to capture all the amazing micro flora and fauna of the Mediterranean. On the under-the-surface portion of the cliff walls, in the crevices and caves and within the same small extent of rock face, pseudo corals and all species of Mediterranean sponges can be found in a distracting variety and abundance. All together they create an ideal habitat for nudibranchs, moray eels, scorpion fish, blennies, gobies, wrasses, starfish and many more. Divers return again and again to capture colorful images one can hardly believe that belong in the Mediterranean and often witness schools of amberjacks hunting small fish, whilst a Triton’s trumpet or a Slipper lobster are anything but a rare sight.

The average depth of the dive is 9 m, while the max is 19 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 24-26 °C in summer months. Usually no surface currents are present. Boat ride duration 5′.

Cape Kapros

Cape Kapros marks the northern tip of Skala’s coastline, and just around it one is at the doorstep of Kefalonia-Ithaca channel. The water movement and the occasional currents around the cape is as intriguing, and create a habitat for huge noble pen shells (fan mussels), nudibranch species on the bottom, whilst schools of bogues, picarels and damselfish feed against the current, just above the noticeable thermocline and attract predators like red snappers and amberjacks. The cape has probably a turbulent past, as ancient merchant vessel anchors and broken clay jars (“amphoras”) lie scattered around.

The average depth of the dive is 12 m, while the max is 26 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 19-25 °C in summer months. Occasionally a moderate surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 7′.

 

Cape Kapros German Wreck

 

 

“At 13:30 in the afternoon, five English planes and one American, flying low, almost at sea level, made their appearance. A caique had left Zakynthos. Strafed from above, the caique caught fire. The Italians immediately came on board our caique and asked us to head for the wreck in order to collect the shipwreck survivors”.

This is what Captain Houmas, an agent of the Greek branch of MI9 that helped the sole survivor or HMS Perseus John Capes in his escape from Kefalonia, logged on May 23, 1943, referring to the commandeered by Germans vessel that lies at -39 m just off Cape Kapros in Skala, south-east Kefalonia.

Divers approaching the wreck encounter a pile of war supplies in the shape of a vessel that its wooden parts have long rotted away, in a dive into history for WWII enthusiasts. The main cargo of artillery shells (apart from the ammunition and medical equipment) was most probably destined for the coastal defense batteries of cape Mounda. Among the 5‘’ cells, the cordite propellant, bullets and fuses boxes, barrels and metal parts of the boat, numerous small crustaceans, fish and other creatures, such as hermit crabs, shrimps, morays, saddled seabreams, gobbies, tube worms and more, making the wreck a heaven for macro u/w photographers. A large white grouper usually dominates the wreck whilst red snappers often are preying in the cloud of damselfish inhabiting this artificial reef.

The average depth or the dive is 38 m, while the max is 42 m, for experienced and deep divers. The usual visibility is 20 m and temperature ranges between 19-25 C in summer months. Occasionally there might be medium currents. Boat ride duration 6’.

Snappers’ Alley

On the eastern boundaries of Kakava reefs, before water depth drops significantly, there is an area where Posidonia sea grass, rocks and sandy patches alternate. This is the place where colourful wrasses, brown meagres and all kinds of breams find shelter, whilst sea turtles and eagle rays are common visitors, but without a doubt the stars are the red snappers that are foraging around this alley, preying on schools of damselfish and parrotfish. This is probably the site more likely to spot a snapper especially from May to July, as they never fail divers in early morning dives.

The average depth of the dive is 16 m, while the max is 22 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 23-25 °C in summer months. Occasionally a weak surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 7′.

Twelve Anchors

 

Located at the northern extents of the Kakava reefs, this site is the most representative example of Mediterranean seafloor landscape and biodiversity in shallow coastal waters and provides excellent chances for u/w photographers. Collapsed caves and holes, along with meadows of Posidonia sea grass create the perfect environment for parrotfish, wrasses, gilt head breams, scorpion fish, young groupers and snappers. Around the reef fragments of ancient clay jars (“amphoras”) can be spotted, however the highlight of the site are the 12 enormous, probably Byzantine era anchors, presumably ditched by a ship struggling to escape crashing on the reef.

The average depth of the dive is 7 m, while the max is 12 m, suitable for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 22-27 °C in summer months. Occasionally a moderate surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 5′.

 

Lighthouse

At the northern end of Skala beach, the rocky coastline provides an u/w landscape of walls and rockslides, which create an ideal habitat for most Mediterranean species. In this dive site, marked by the Cape Kapros lighthouse, boulders scattered among Posidonia seagrass provide a haven for all kinds of breams, wrasses, brown meagres and octopuses, especially when water temperature is below 23 °C, up to the end of June and again from early September. Huge schools of juvenile saddled sea breams and damselfish, along with often passing Loggerheard sea turtles, create scenery so rich that rarely can be matched by Mediterranean waters.

The average depth of the dive is 8 m, while the max is 17 m, appropriate for divers of all levels.

The usual visibility is 25 m and temperature ranges between 24-26 °C in summer months. Occasionally a weak surface current may be encountered. Boat ride duration 5′.

 

Gonies Cove

An impressive reef concludes in a wall at the tip of the cove. Divers can observe remains of an ancient, roman era wreck that stretches across the levels of the dive. Fragments of broken amphorae but also an intact one, a lead stock of a composite anchor and ballast stones mark the final resting place of the long gone vessel. The reef is abundant with most species of Mediterranean aquatic life while Loggerhead sea turtles are anything but a rare sight.

The average depth or the dive is 16 m, while the max is 31 m, appropriate for divers of all levels. Boat ride duration 9′.

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