Askold Island


We met at the parking lot, as usual, at 10 am. The sky were clear and the sea were calm. In such weather conditions, the choice of divesite is obvious — the Askold island! We loaded the equipment into the «rocket» of my buddy Dmitriy Rudas and moored. The boat rushes under a 3-kilometer bridge, that hangs over  the Bosfor Vostochniy straight. I make some pics of  "flying" past Basargin Cape and Skryplev Island. We study the horizon, they say, the orcas came . We pass a swivel buoy and island appeared on the horizon. The path to the island took a little less than an hour. On the western side of the island we are greeted by a waterfall.

The island is located 50 kilometers south-east of Vladivostok. The outlines of the island resemble a horseshoe, lowered horns down. The island is mountainous, it has three peaks more than three hundred meters high. The shores of the island are steep. At Cape Elagina, an old lighthouse has survived and continues to operate.

Island Askold is known among divers as one of the best and most difficult dive sites. There are vertical walls and sandy bay and rocks, depths up to 70 meters, strong currents. And in the waters around the island you can meet anyone.

We decided to chose the cape of Koshelev as the fitst dive place.We grab scuba, put on dry suits and, according to tradition, fell overboard at the count of «three». The captain gave us the cameras, and we «flew into the depths.» At the depths I felt the cold water pour into my glove.  I snapped the ring badly, but there is no time to distract. At a depth of 26 meters on one of the boulders we met an opillio crab. While it was posing for Dima, I looked around. The whole bottom was covered with shells and legs of a king crab. Most likely, the crab chose this place for annual molting. On another boulder we met a pretty antlered sculpin. The calmness of this fish can only be envied, the fish did not budge during the photo session, . On the third boulder, I met an actinia (senile metridium) with unusual color. Her leg and mouth were colored in orange, and the rim on the tentacles was black. On the twentieth minute of the dive, we decided to investigate the shallow part of the cape. Here I found a young king crab. Young crabs do not go to depth with large relatives, and continue to grow, hiding among the sea anemones and algae.

On the 40th minute of the dive an unknown deafening sound resounded, resembling a clang of iron. The sound lasted about a minute, then disappeared. In a moment I was already smoothly rising to a depth of 5 meters to make the safety stop. The safety stop dragged on, since on  I discovered a whole macro world on one of the rocks. The entire stone was strewn with hydroids, and the nudibranches  coryphella athadona crawled on them with clusters. This species can be easily distinguished from others, by the presence of brightly expressed white bands on the oral tentacles. Coryphylla atadona is the most massive species in the Far Eastern seas of Russia, but I saw such a large cluster for the first time.

  • coryphella athadona
  • coryphella athadona
  • coryphella athadona
  • молодой камчатский краб (young king crab)
  • двурогий бычок (antlered sculpin)
  • opillio crab

The second dive was at Cape Palchatiy. Here there is an underwater rock with a deep base and a peak on a 5 meters depth. But first, we need to make a surface interval. Just time for dinner. We condemned the unusual sound that was heard under the water. The captain said that the surface was quiet, and he didn't hear anything.

During the surface interval, my dry glove managed to dry out. I carefully lubricated the o-rings on the glove rings, and we began to prepare for the second dive. We decided to fall right away with the cameras, since it is likely that we will be demolished from the point, while the captain will give us the equipment. The decision was justified. Visibility in the water was about two meters. We did not see each other, not even a rock. With increasing depth, visibility improved to 6-7 meters. We fell to the mark of 30 meters. Here among the algae and hydroids we met the lebbeus guenlandicus shrimp. I have met this species before, also at great depth, near the island of Bolshoy Pelis. Near the empty mussel shell I noticed two nudibranchs onchidoris muricata and an unknown worm. A little lower Dima has already shot an unusual shrimp spirontocaris prinota. By the time I made a couple of shots of this shrimp, my computer showed that I fell into the deco for 5 minutes. At this depth, the air is consumed very quickly, and still it is necessary to make the safety stop with the deco minutes. I start to go up. At a depth of 12 meters, among the thickets of kelp,  I met two «lovers» —  weed crabs. During the mating season, crabs squeeze each other's claws and can remain in this state for up to a week. A little higher I meet another beautiful shrimp — paracrangon echinata dana. The upper part of the underwater rock is abundantly overgrown with laminaria. In the surf wave among the algae something to look for is a waste of time. I throw out a buoy and wait the counted minutes of decompression. Computer of Dima generously endowed his master with 14 minutes of the deco time, as he was for a long time at great depth an the first dive.

  • Lebbeus gruenlandicus
  • unkown worm
  • onchidoris muricata
  • sspirontocaris prinota
  • Opisthocentrus ocellatus
  • seaweed crabs "in love"
  • Paracrangon echinata dana

I go out on a boat. I take the «land camera» in my hands, I want to take a couple of pictures of Dima in the water. And about 20 meters from the boat I notice the back and a huge orca's fin. After 2 minutes we saw it with the captain once again. We give Dmitry a signal to finish the dive. The camera managed to catch only the upper tip of the fin. Already on the shore, we learned that the strange sound that we heard in the water can make killer whales, driving the fish into the jamb.

On this day our team had an honorable mission. Our captain was to fulfill his grandfather's last wish, dispelling his ashes in the sea. The captain fulfilled the wish of the deceased, laid flowers, and we honored the memory with a minute of silence. At such moments you realize that we are just guests in this vast world. Our life is very short and it is necessary to live it in dignity in harmony with nature.

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