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Scuba Diving Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Dive Site: Petit Reef
Location: Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Depth: 8 - 10 metres (26 - 33 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres + (100 feet)
Petit Reef is just that - a 'small' reef located 5 minutes boat ride from the beach at Vao. It is a coral formation on a flat seabed with the maximum depth around 8 - 10 metres. At a slow pace it probably takes an hour to circumnavigate the reef in its entirety and during our dives here there was only a slight current. The conditions and topography make it an ideal site for a night dive, so about 30 minutes before sunset we departed the Kunie Scuba Centre to make a sunset dive.
As we left the centre the last words I heard were, 'I hope you like snakes'. Once kitted up we dropped into 7 metres of water alongside the reef where there were small coral outcrops and coral heads dotted on the flat sand bed. After only a few minutes I spotted a large brown sea snake loosely draped over a table coral. A huge yellow pufferfish was hiding in the reef and then as we swam against the slight current a white spotted pufferfish came swimming past. Before long I spotted a white banded sea snake and as the light dimmed another sea snake and then another. Using my torch for the second part of the dive I counted a total of 16 sea snakes of varying type and size on this dive. Some were a good metre plus in length and there was one which was free-swimming along the bottom of the reef before it headed for the surface. I don't know why there was such a proliferation of these creatures in such a small place but it was quite eerie diving in the dark with so many snakes.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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