Long-time UAE resident Zeek Zorkany has been diving in Fujairah since 2010.
But when he re-entered the sea this weekend after a two-month hiatus due to restrictions surrounding the coronavirus, he was taken aback by the scenes that greeted him.
In a single dive, Zorkany spotted three Blacktip sharks, two Guitar sharks, three Eagle rays, a Cowtail stingray, four turtles and numerous barracuda, and was able to capture some of this thriving sea life on video.
“On a normal day, in exactly the same spot, we’d be lucky to see a single turtle in one dive,” he says.
While dive centres are currently not allowed to take boats out, shore dives are permitted. A lack of noise pollution and inexperienced divers in the waters has seemingly emboldened marine life, notes Zorkany.
“The fish were coming right up to us, and at one point, there were even sharks approaching us. Normally they would be freaked out and disappear immediately.”
The long-time Dubai resident, who works in cyber security and teaches diving “as a passion”, was also struck by the improved visibility under the surface, and by a noticeable lack of rubbish.
“The major thing was the number of schools of fish that we saw. The amount of fish has probably quadrupled since I last went diving two months ago, in early March.
"It was like being in a forest of fish. The visibility has also really improved, and there was no rubbish and no plastic to be seen. We did see a couple of gloves and face masks, though.”
Nonetheless, it was a marked change from some of the scenes he has witnessed in the past that highlight how careful we should be when disposing of our rubbish. “A lot of times we will see dead turtles that have choked on plastic bags,” he says. “Humans have a tendency to make things worse. It would be great if people become more responsible as a result of the current situation.”
While the boats at Divers Down, a dive centre in Al Aqah, Fujairah, are currently being kept out of the water, that hasn’t stopped the centre’s operations manager, Michele Collela, from witnessing a similar revival of marine activity.
“We went down to the centre to check the boats the other day, and there were dolphins in the water, jumping around. They seemed to be saying: “We are enjoying that you are not here!” she jokes. “I think marine life is taking its revenge.”