Diving Day in Dalyan, Turkey

Saturday, May 15th, 2004: Dalyan, Turkey

A free day. Most of the group head for the beach, followed by the mud baths. They collectively decide to take a pass on the ruins – we have all been feeling a bit ruined out, and there are more to come.

A Disappointing Dive

Greg and I, however, have decided to go diving. We are picked up at 8:30 this morning by Murat, who will be our dive-master, and his girlfriend Ann, who will stay on the boat when we are diving. On the 30 minute drive around the mountain to another town, Sarigerme, right on the Mediterranean, we talk about places we have all dived. Murat and Ann tell us that we must forget all our previous dives – diving in the Mediterranean is different. We had been forewarned of this, and tell them they need not worry that we will be disappointed.

We get to the most beautiful long white sand beach. It all belongs to a huge resort, with 700 rooms. Murat and Ann tell us that 500 new guests will arrive later today from Germany. (Germans appear, in our experience, to have a good fix on all the best beaches!) They tell us that although the season, which goes from late April to the end of October, is in its 3rd week, it has been slow so far this year, and they are looking forward to the arrival of these 500 people. We get our gear organized – this will be different for us, for the water is only about 20°, so we will wear thick wet-suits, a double layer over our torsos, with hoods as well. We head out in a little inflatable Zodiak to an island about 15 minutes away.

The dive is – different: Great visibility, but little marine life. The island is a mountaintop, and it has steep cliffs both above and below water. We circle around, swimming through crevices, looking at the dead coral, looking way down to the bottom. This could be the future of the Great Barrier Reef if something doesn’t happen soon to stop what was all too apparent there. We see some pottery shards, although this is not an ancient wreck site. Greg sees a stingray, but I do not. Towards the end we see more fish than we have seen so far, but upon seeing us they flee. Unlike most of the fish in the locations we have dived previously, these fish have learnt to be wary of humans.

Cave Dive

For our 2nd dive, we head to the mainland not too far from the island. This will be a cave dive, again different than the caves we have been in before, because this cave is an underwater tunnel, open at both ends, and we will swim through it, then back around the point to our starting place. We back-flip off the boat and down we go. We enter the cave, and as Murat has promised, we hear a booming that we feel more than hear, the competing waves coming into the cave from both sides. At the midpoint, both in front and behind the entrances are beautiful opalescent blues. We see a solitary lobster in the cave. We exit, turn out our lights, then have a nice swim around the point. There is more life on this dive. Murat tells us that one of the fishes we see, flute fish, is not endemic to the Mediterranean, but were brought here from the Red Sea during the time of the Greeks, 3,000 or so years ago.


We meet up with the group again and head out for dinner to a restaurant on the side of the river. Greg and I are reveling in the fresh produce that every restaurant in Turkey serves – wonderful tomatoes, lettuces and cucumbers. On a TV at the side of the restaurant is the pre-show for the Eurovision Song Contest final, where the winner will be chosen from the remaining countries. Haluk and I had watched a bit of the preliminary round a couple of nights ago, back in Selçuk; Haluk had expressed disappointment because virtually every country’s singer had sung in English.

Tonight, as part of the pre-show, they roll the names and years of previous winners across the screen, and I gasp with amazement when I see that Céline Dion was the 1988 winner, representing Switzerland. Although embarrassed to admit that she and I share the same nationality, I find that I am offended that she entered the contest on the Swiss ticket.

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