I've been pining to dive the Cabbage Patch in Somosomo Strait for years. In the IMAX movie "Coral Reef Adventure", Jean-Michel Cousteau was seen diving down to a 7 meter patch in crystal clear water, while Fijian children snorkeled above. I thought for sure that this "Cabbage Patch" was the cabbage patch in the film. I was wrong. (See my latest video Cabbage Patch and you'll understand!)
Named after Cabbage Coral (aka Scroll Coral) or turbinaria, this site is at about 20 meters deep and covers an area of about 4000 square meters or an acre. The Cabbage Coral grows to about 5 meters high and all the colonies are uniformly green in color. The base of the coral is white: shaded from the sun, the skin recedes to reveal the calcium carbonate skeleton.
I pause to say this, for surely no dive is bad in Fiji, but in rating dive sites in Somosomo Straits - this one ranks . . . last. Most dive masters would agree with this consensus. In fact, when I requested to dive this site, the captain and dive masters rolled their eyes. I asked for clarification just before I jumped into the water. The captain replied, "You'll see soon enough. Besides the cabbage coral - there's not much there."
When I came up from the dive, the captain said, "Well,... was I wrong?"
"Nope. It was murky, surprisingly deep, and there wasn't much to see."
"Yes. That's why we don't come here that often."
"Oh. I now understand."
In hindsight, I'm glad I did the dive. If I hadn't, I'd always feel incomplete. Also, as a marine water hobbyist, I'm intrigued by how big these corals get. They're very popular in the aquarium trade - but if hobbyists knew how big they got, they'd have second thoughts. These corals in an aquarium are the equivalent of having a mastiff dog in a small studio apartment filled with furniture.
This dive is the last of my underwater camera photos. My housing flooded at this site and the camera stopped working (even though it, a CoolPix, is rated to 12 meters). Aw well.