Daymaniat < OMAN EXPLORER

Hidden Beauty of the Daymaniat Islands

 

 

TRUE beauty lies within,' goes the maxim which, more or less, encapsulates the underlying charm of the string of nine islands called Daymaniat Islands.

Though nothing much to look at, these islands in the Gulf of Oman provide sanctuary to a great treasure in bird and marine life.

Along with the waters around them, they are protected by Royal Decree as a nature reserve and a national bio-treasure. It takes about 40 minutes by boat to reach the islands from Al Sawadi Forum Resort.

Permission from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment is mandatory before embarking on a trip to the islands. One can explore the waters around the islands, but cannot set foot on the outcrops themselves as they are the nesting grounds for the Hawksbill turtles.

What appear to be mere clumps of rocky outcrops in the sea turn out to be an enchanting haven for coral, besides a rich variety of marine and bird life, says Jeanina Santiago

PORCUPINE pufferfish, known for inflating themselves with water or air when threatened.

 

Also called tortoiseshell turtle, the Hawksbill turtle is a sea turtle with a hooked upper jaw that resembles a hawk's beak, and two pairs of large shields on top of the head, between the eyes. In past years, demand for tortoiseshell had made the Hawksbill an easy target for poachers and hunters, driving the creature towards the brink of extinction.

The Omani government, in an effort to safeguard this national treasure, has thus restricted access to island outcrops. But divers, snorkellers, nature-lovers and tourists are permitted to explore the waters around Daymaniat.

 


TWO photogenic Blackspot
squirrelfishes.


THE underwater world promises a rare experience
with schools of clown fishes encircling the corals

 

To this end, the management of Al Sawadi Forum Resort obtains permits, renewable on a weekly basis, to take boatloads of tourists and others to the islands.

But much of Daymaniat's beauty lies beneath the waters that surround these islands. Magnificent coral gardens and marine life in resplendent colours make the islands among the best dive sites in Oman.

Snorkelling in these clear, pristine waters, one can see a vast expanse of coral reef with schools of fishes encircling the corals. Indeed, Daymaniat's underwater world promises a rare and exciting experience for both beginners and professional divers and snorkellers.

I've been diving in these waters for the past many years. This is my thirtieth visit to the area," said a British diver, who has been resident in the Sultanate for the past 12 years. Good visibility and the variety of fishes thriving in these waters make the Daymaniat Islands a popular dive location, he adds.

 


SEA anemone, a marine flowerlike polyp


A PICTURESQUE bank of coral in the
waters around the Daymaniat Islands

 

After every dive, the divers exchange notes on what they have seen. They report sightings of green turtles, the predatory barracuda that is known for its fanged teeth, fusiliers, clown fishes, rays and others.

"You also encounter leopards — also called zebra sharks — in these waters," adds an Irish diver, who visits the Daymaniat Islands every time he gets a break from his Sohar-based assignment.

Sharks frequent these waters, but are not the predatory kind that can pose a threat to swimmers and snorkellers. "Divers and snorkellers are safe in these waters. The kind of shark that inhabits this area does not attack or kill human beings," assures Azzan, the friendly 20-year-old Omani guide-cum-'skipper' from Al Sawadi Resort's diving centre, Ocean Extreme.

Professional divers advocate a hands-off approach when it comes to admiring the creatures of the sea. Some varieties of sea-life can be dangerous when touched, notably the lion-fish, moray eels and sea snakes.

Beginners, who would like a glimpse of these underwater treasures, can try snorkelling. It is advisable to wear a lifejacket or hold on to a buoy. For as long as one is within reach of a guide-cum-lifeguard, and one respects the creatures of the sea, there is nothing but an exhilarating experience to enjoy!

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