PONDICHERRY COASTLINE IS EXCEPTIONALLY PHOTOGENIC, WITH SOMETHING TO SEE RIGHT FROM THE SMALLEST CREATURES TO THE LARGEST MONSTERS! Pondicherry diving is known for its versatility. Ranging from the Great Aravind’s Wall to the Cuddalore Wreck, this variety of dive sites provides for a fine training ground for students and instructors alike, and makes for interesting (and sometimes challenging) dives for recreational and holiday divers.
DIVE SITES IN PONDICHERRY...
THE WALL - The famous Aravind’s Wall is the prime dive location that Pondicherry divers love to visit. It is a deep dive site (30-40 m), and it is several kilometres long. Most parts of it still remain unexplored. However, within the Wall, around 10 known dive sites exist, where fan and whip corals, several big fish (groupers, barracuda, tuna and more), a few friendly sea kraits and equally diverse macro life (nudibranches in particular) can be found. The Wall is also suspected to be the end of the Indian continental shelf, 15 km off the coast of Pondicherry. Therefore, guaranteed is a wonderful topography, lots of swim-throughs and very often, a surprise or two!
TEMPLE REEF - A mere 5 km from the Pondicherry shore is Temple Reef, a creation by the team of Temple Adventures. The instructors in this Dive Centre saw the adverse effects of trawler fishing, which was rampant within 30 km of the shoreline. It had destroyed almost all marine ecosystems in the region. As a result, the Temple Team created a giant metal structure that was in fact, temple-shaped, as a place in which fish could live without the trawler nets reaching them. Soon, it became a feeder reef, and is now surrounded by several types of fish (including the trumpet fish, silver moonies, barracudas, lionfish), a couple of moray eels, lots of bottom dwellers, and the occasional ray or two. The success of Temple Reef was stupendous, and it has resulted in a series of artificial reefs created around the same area, made from bottles, an old van, a few scooters and even a second metal structure. With a maximum depth of 18m, it is the ideal shallow dive, with plenty to see.
DANNY’S EEL GARDEN - Located 800m North East of Temple Reef, Danny’s Eel Garden is one of the later discovered sites in Pondicherry. As the name suggests, it is the home of several types of eels, particularly morays. In the right season (February to May), this site is also home to several cuttlefish during their mating frenzy. Pondicherry’s biggest lobster was also spotted here. Interestingly, the dive sites bottom consists of rocks, all approximately of similar sizes, arranged in the shape of a long ship (40 m). Pondicherry divers therefore believe that their beloved site is in fact the remnants of a wooden ship, where today, nothing but the ballasts can be recognised on the seafloor. At 17m, one can enjoy a nice, long dive at this mysterious location.
MACRO GARDEN - If one drifts off of Danny’s Eel Garden (ideal South West), they are surrounded by what appears to be nothing more than sand on the seafloor. However, a closer look will prove immediately that even boring ol’ mud can house some of the most interesting species underwater! Macro Garden is a site that appeals to those who love the small animals - nudibranches, seahorses, baby stingrays, octopi, and several species that haven’t been identified yet. One can enjoy a long, peaceful drift dive there, as no one knows where this dive site begins, or where it ends!
PIRATE’S BOOTY - Known in short as Pirates, this 24 m deep site was discovered during a mini liveaboard trip hosted by Temple Adventures, when a friendly fisherman or two told them where they get their best catch. Pirates is a large site, approximately the size of a football field. The rocky bottom hosts a number of smaller corals, lionfish, moray eels, and lots of torpedo rays. Not to mention the larger guys such as barracudas and tunas, who usually greet the divers during their ascent. For anyone who loves to help conserve marine life, there’s always a fish or two that is stuck in an old net, and Pondicherry divers love to do their part to help conserve this beautiful reef that is so fun of life. Pirates too is a relatively new discovery, and plenty remains to be seen there that even the Pondicherry divers don’t know of!
CUDDALORE WRECK - Cuddalore is a fishing town 45 minutes South of Pondicherry. Within 1km of it’s coast is the MV Mothi, a ship that was sunk by the Indian government due to its participation in contraband exchange of illegal exotic animals and animal products between Sri Lanka and India. The wreck that has been submerged since Christmas Day, 1984, is a great site to spot barramundi, scorpion fish, freely swimming morays, a grouper or two and plenty of great swim throughs. The wreck is the ideal place for an interesting penetration. As it lies at a mere depth of 12 m, one can explore the wreck thoroughly on the inside, without compromising their safety, nor PADI Standards. The wreck is a great place, without doubt, for any recreational diver who loves an adventure.