Volume 1 - Dominica

We are hoping to do one of the Atlantic dives on the south side of the island but when we reach Scott's Head it is obvious from the sea state that the trade winds are blowing at full force, causing us to abandon our plan. Instead we dive Crater's Edge.

As is so often the case, this unplanned dive turned out to be one of the most exciting of our dives in Dominica. It encapsulates everything that is special about diving off this island. Stunning underwater structures, a vertical wall, ridges, and a throng of tropical marine life.Crater's Edge is the extension of the crater rim that runs west from Scott's Head.

The crater's rim emerges as a ridge, giving some sense of proportion to this submarine structure. Deep crevices and towering pinnacles add to an impression of powerful forces having carved this dramatic arena.

Dive Profile
Dive boats take a buoy attached to the top of a pinnacle, at 30 feet. The dive begins with an anticlockwise circumnavigation of a large pinnacle. We descend to 90 feet and marvel at the mosaic of colourful sponges confronting us. Then, we look out to the blue where rainbow runners, yellowtail snappers and cottonmouth jacks move effortlessly through the light current. Back to the pinnacle face to watch rock beauties munch on giant barrel sponges. Now our dive leader is pointing out two sting rays, one seemingly in hot pursuit of the other. We are going to get dizzy if this does not stop soon.

Back on the pinnacle wall we see brown bowl sponges like amplification horns for the hard of hearing. The bowls are 12 to 18 inches across. Octocorals have also claimed some of the substratum; colourful sea rods are sprinkled around much of the pinnacle. On the steepest face, tiers of gorgonians cascade down.

Another spin around to check the commotion behind us gives us a sight of schools of Creole wrasse and a crush of brown and blue chromis. It is getting crowded down here.

We are now on the west face of the pinnacle and we cannot believe we have seen so much when, at 100 feet, we happen upon a flurry of activity, in a chute under an overhang. A group of black margates seems to be having some kind of synchronised swimming contest. They rush to the top of the crevice do a fluttering dance and then shoot back down through those who are ascending. The fish behaviour experts would no doubt ascribe this bizarre behaviour to some form of ritualised mating ceremony. We thought they were just having fun.

Out to the right another ridge leads to a deeper pinnacle. The pinnacle marks the western outer limit of recreational diving around the crater rim. Depending upon the current, operators use this site for those wanting to do a deep dive.

Finishing the tour of the pinnacle we swim southeast along the main ridge, glad of the opportunity to recover our senses from the onslaught of the pinnacle, or so we think. Massive schools of sennets sweep across the ridge. Sennet have a perfect fusiform shape and they slide through the water, with only occasional spurts of energy. Immediately, their tail fins converge to reduce drag until they are needed again for the next spurt.

As we move along the ridge in 90 feet, rather less perfect examples of a fusiform shape and with considerably more drag, we are again focusing on the reef. Even the algae are attractive. Numerous bushes of variegated red algae are scattered along the ridge. Taking a close look at one I raise my head to find a 15 inch-long whitespotted filefish a few inches from my mask and another a few feet away.

Back to the buoy line for a safety stop, and a rest. There is only so much our eyes can take in and we have moved way beyond our brain's capacity to store and process the information. My note-taking slate looks as much of a mess as Brian's sketch map.

Back on the boat our dive leader, Simon Walsh, describes the orange ball corallimorphs which emerge on this reef at night, looking like miniature solar systems. It is hard to believe that this site has even more treats to offer.

Thanks to Simon Walsh of Nature Island Dive.
barbados sample dive site map
Craters Edge
30' - 140'

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