CORAL GALLERIES TO THE SPIKE

The long submerged wall or drop off located between the northern entry/exit point to the coral Galleries and the Spike is a dive of great interest, comprising of various rocky overhangs, a number of small caverns and an extensive area of Neptunegrass (Posidonia oceanica) on a lower slope. Depths of up to and over 30m may be reached, however most marine life of interest is usually found at shallower depths in and around the caverns and overhangs.
The dive can be made in any of three ways. Part of this wall is usually visited when diving the Coral Galleries, however for the more experienced diver, who has already visited and explored this site previously, it is possible to exit the northern exit of the Coral galleries and swim the entire length of this wall, around the Spike and then back across the reef flat behind the small islet back to the anchor point for the Galleries. Another option is to visit this wall when making a dive to the Spike. The Spike itself being divided into two separate dives; the first to explore the spike and the bay leading to Orions Caves and the second option being to explore this wall.
With the boat anchored in the bay between the Spike and Orions Caves, begin by descending to the base of the Spike and take a good look at this incredible feature.

Divers explore the drop off and shallow rocky reef between the Spike and Orion caves


The north wall between the Coral Galleries and the Spike...........Drawing © Oceanic Research & Publishing Ltd
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Barracudas Sphyraena sphyraena hover almost motionless in open water off the north wall of the Coral Galleries.
This rock formation towers upwards from a depth of 25m to just over 1m below the surface, where huge shoals of Blue damselfish (Chromis chromis) are usually seen swirling around in the open water close by. Now return to the base of the tower where one will find a small cavern, this leads all the way under the Spike and out towards the Wall. The cavern is home to many Bryozoans (False corals), Sponges, anemones and a number of different species of ahermatypic corals, it is also a good place to encounter Dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) hiding deeper within crevices in the far corners of the cavern.
From this swim through, continue the dive along the base of the wall at a depth of approximately 15m until reaching a larger bay or inlet leading to yet another small cavern. Here in the sandy bottom at a depth of 17 metres, a number of artifacts have been recovered over the years, this being the site of the sinking of a small French warship the 'La Laurette' in 1883. The cavern itself is also very interesting for the myriad species of sponges, Bryozoans (false corals) and small anemones that encrust the walls and ceiling. This cavern is also the turn around point for the Coral Galleries dive.
At this point, begin the return towards the Spike, this time however swimming up and along the base of the upper wall at a depth of no more than 8m. Thus conserving air at this shallower depth, one may discover a great variety of Mediterranean marine life. This wall is an amazing patchwork of small crevices, holes and even small caverns, where not only are there many sponges, corals and algae but also many species of smaller fish such as bright red Cardinal fish (Apogon imberbis) which prefer the shaded areas of these caverns, numerous Small red Scorpionfish (Scorpaena notata), Painted comber (Serranus scriba), small Moray and occasional Octopus who take advantage of the numerous hideaways to stalk their prey.
Off the wall, into open water it is not uncommon to see a small shoal of Mediterranean barracuda (Sphyraena sphyraena) whereas Amberjack (Seriola dumerili), are more likely to be seen later in the year from August onwards, both these species taking advantage of the very large shoals of Blue damselfish as one of their favoured prey.
Now, depending upon where the boat is anchored, there remain two options to finish the dive. If the boat is anchored in the bay between the Spike and Orions caves, then the wall or drop off located between the Spike and Orions Caves is also of great interest, where there are a number of alternating overhangs and shelves. (See image at top of page) If however one is returning to the dive boat anchored at the Coral Galleries, then swim back over the reef top behind the islet. The water here is very shallow, generally no more than 3m and is home to a great number of small colourful Wrasses, both the Ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo) and Mediterranean rainbow wrasse (Coris julis). This rocky reef is also one of the best places in the south east for snorkeling and swimming.
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