By James Bryce - The Olive Express
A pair of unblinking eyes stare at me down a long snout that looks like it is permanently puckering up for a kiss.
While elsewhere, a snail-like creature no bigger than my thumb displays fearsome-looking horns and a striking colour scheme, giving it the appearance of a drag queen.
But despite their unusual appearance, pipe fish and nudibranchs are just two examples of the bizarre residents inhabiting the underwater world surrounding Gibraltar.
Octopuses, seahorses and moray eels are regularly spotted, along with huge shoals of fish including mackerel, bream and mullet.
Much rarer visitors to these shores include eagle rays and turtles.
But the marine life is far from the only attraction.
The waters around the Rock are littered with ship wrecks of all shapes and sizes, offering a fascinating insight into the area’s sea-faring history.
Among those accessible to divers are Batty’s Barge and the 482, an ex-admiralty cable-laying barge that was deliberately sunk in 1990 as part of a conservation project to help attract sea life to the area.
Sarah Hunt from Dive Charters Gibraltar is explaining the wreck’s history to me in between helping me get into my gear and providing safety briefings.
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