Tag Archive for: crustaceans

“The shadow of the seas”

This is  “Sikios” or “Pantelis” in Greek, the Brown Meagre (or Corb- scientific name: “Sciaena umbra”). This species spreads in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the East Atlantic. It is usually found in rocky and sandy sea bottoms with seagrass  meadows (in fact, the iconic”Posidonia oceanica” seagrass which is not an algae but a plant) in depths from 5 to 200 meters and is preying on small fish and crustaceans (crabs, shrimp etc.). A good-looking phantom!

Sikios is an amazingly beautiful fish of the Mediterranean, with golden and silver flashes in its body and impressively bright dorsal and caudal fins – yellow with black edges and white details, while its movement is full of grace. It is mainly nocturnal fish that can be seen during the day although it prefers to remain in the holes of the rocks.

The second composer of its Latin name  “umbra” means “shadow,” and is inspired by his ability to remain invisible- partly due to the colors of his body, and partly to the perfect buoyancy he can achieve by staying motionless in shadows in the depth of the cavities where is hiding.  The fish of this species (croakers) have two bone “hammers” in their head (called “otolithi”) with which they create sounds to communicate, especially as they are very sociable and live in small groups.  If keep quite silent and can approach such a “shadow”, a diver can distinguish the special sounds, as long as he is not to late for the show!


“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.

The wooden parts have long rotted away, but the main cargo of artillery shells (apart from the ammunition and medical equipment) is still there and was most probably destined for the coastal defense batteries of cape Mounda, in a dive into history for WWII enthusiasts. Among the 150mm 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.

Dive starts at the shot line that leads close to the wreck and at around 25m depth the pile of war supplies in the shape of a vessel, roughly 16 m long, is visible. Leaving the shot line at around 30 m, divers head towards the wreck “flying” 2-3 m above the bottom, so they do not stir the sand.  At the front of the wreck there is a load of 150 mm artillery projectiles and some cables. Picking any side of the wreck and continuing aft, massive white groupers can sometimes be seen in a tunnel they have created bellow the projectiles. This is also where wooden parts of the vessels can be seen exposed. The middle of the wreck is full of items such as projectile fuses, boxes with bullets, small bottles and items of medical supplies and more relics that occasionally are exposed by the currents. The wreck creates a small reef on the sandy bottom, creating a habitant for triggerfish, morays, grabs, nudibranch and more. Returning towards the “bow” more war relics can be found, before dive comes to an end heading to the shot line and initiate the ascend and safety stops.

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’.

A most impressive and vivid wall hides a surprise for divers. A wide opening from 15 to 25 m leads to an enormous underwater cave. Every surface is covered with colorful marine life such as sponges, soft and false corals, coralline algae and is inhabited by all kinds of crustaceans and bright colored fish. A smaller tunnel leads to a second dark chamber, a sanctuary for red narval shrimp and leopard gobies and a heaven for macro u/w photographers alike. But the most impressive venue is at the main chamber of the cave where the collapsed roof creates a saltwater lake at the bottom of a wide well curved in the rock, where sunlight on the surface turns water into liquid emerald..
The average depth of the dive is 18 m, while the max is 34 m, appropriate for advanced level divers. The visibility is usually greater than 25 m and temperature ranges between 19-26 °C in summer months, depending on depth. Occasionally a mild current may be encountered at the tip of the wall. Boat ride duration 30′.