More about the Car Cemetery
The Car Cemetery is an underwater graveyard of discarded vehicles which stretches about four nautical miles from Khor Fakkan port. Around 200 wrecked vehicles consisting of cars and trucks were intentionally submerged in 1988 to form artificial reefs to renew habitats and boost biodiversity in Fujairah. When cyclone Gonu hit UAE in 2007, the number of vehicles was reduced to 50 and the center of the site currently encompasses about 60 square meters.
The wrecks are connected with ropes which make it convenient to get from one wreck to another. Some wrecks are just fragments of vehicles such as tires, steering wheels, fenders, and chassis and there are fishing nets over some cars. With a depth of 16-18 meters and greatly varying visibility, this wreck dive site is suitable for Open Water Diver or higher.
This unique and interesting dive site gave unwanted cars and trucks a new purpose in life and after more than 30 years underwater, the wrecked vehicles are now fully enveloped with marine life such as algae, barnacles, and red, blue, and orange corals. Aside from creating intricate structures, the corals also provide food for a variety of fish and other creatures.
Taking photographs of your marine animal encounters
Car Cemetery is a popular site for nature photographers, especially those who love macro photography because it is home to many stunning small animals beginning with nudibranchs which come in varying colors, shapes, and textures. Also called nudis, these creatures are perhaps one of the most photographed marine creatures because of their striking beauty. Although some use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings, many nudibranchs project bright hues and kaleidoscopic markings to warn predators not to mess with them. If you want to take a picture of these vibrant animals, the first thing to do is to spot them during your dive which is not hard when you’re diving in Car Cemetery.
As a matter of fact, an estimated 300 different varieties of nudibranchs live in the waters of the UAE which is 10 percent of the 3,000 currently known species. The Red-ringed purple spots Dorid Nudibranch Sea Slug, Red-Papulose Gymnodoris Nudibranch, Red-lined Flabellina Aeolid Nudibranch, and Yellowish-Orange Spotted Chromodorid Nudibranch are just a few of the fascinating species found in these waters. Here’s a trivia: Did you know that nudibranchs are not endemic to the UAE? They are actually invasive species and according to speculations, their eggs may have been carried to the Emirates through its shipping ports.
This wreck dive site is also known for seahorses which is another favorite of nature photographers because of their distinctive shape. These shy creatures may be found clinging on sea fans but sometimes you have to take a second look at the branches because they are capable of changing colors to blend with their environment.
They also permit encrusting organisms to attach on them which can make them more tricky to detect. If you yearn to capture a great image of a seahorse, it’s advisable to stay still and observe it using your viewfinder. Patience is often rewarded so wait for the right moment and take a shot as soon as you get great eye contact. You may also want to shoot from the side to emphasize the seahorse’s unique shape.
Another small dweller that you can photograph is the blenny, a fish known for its elongated body shape which varies in color and exhibits spots or stripes. Blennies have distinctive teeth which earned them the nicknames “comb-toothed” and “saber-toothed”. You are likely to find them in the sandy bottom or crevices of the wrecks where they hide their eggs. They eat algae and invertebrates but they can also survive by nipping the skin, fins, or scales of other fish. Some holes may shelter moray eels like a resident honeycomb moray eel that’s just waiting to pounce on prey.
You might want to take a look under crinoids for a chance to photograph the Omani clingfish which are scaleless fish with wide and flattened heads. They use their sucking disk to hold on to crinoids or maintain their position on the bottom.
Keep your eyes peeled for stingrays that may be partially buried on the sandy bottom of the Car Cemetery and if you encounter one swimming, watch how it undulates its body like a wave. When you’re taking photos of these creatures, remember to keep a safe distance to protect yourself from the stingray’s spine or barb.