We are about to head into the tail end of summer and the odd chilly evening is a reminder that winter will soon be on its way. Luckily for us we tend to escape a lot of the bad weather that moves up the coast from the Cape, as it often heads out to sea and dissipates before it reaches us. However, sometimes it does not move far enough out to sea and we still get some of the effects in the form of big swells; this in turn causes us to have surge on the dives with quite a bit of sand being stirred up, resulting in a drop in visibility. Visibility averaged at around 15-18 metres, with some days a wonderful 25-30 metres plus and due to bad weather the visibility dropped down to 8-10 metres for a couple of days. Water temperature was still a warm 27 degrees Celsius dropping to 25 degrees at the end of the month.
March marks the end of the turtle nesting and hatching season. Generally by the end of March it is quite rare to see a female turtle come ashore to lay her eggs but there were a few latecomers this year. Most of the turtle nests will have hatched out by the end of March but because some were only laid late, we might still see the occasional hatchling before the season is completely finished.
The ragged tooth shark season has also officially come to and end. The last time that we saw ragged tooth sharks at Island Rock was on the 4th of March. Guests were enjoying an Ocean Experience and were lucky to see the last two female raggies. We snorkelled at Island Rock a few days later and could not find them, and have not seen any for the remainder of the month. After spending approximately three months in our area, these sharks return home to the Eastern Cape, where they will give birth and wait until next year to start their migration all over again.
The old saying, “a dive is not over until you are back on the boat”, proved to be true on a couple of occasions this month and both times it was whilst diving at Aerial Reef that divers saw something special when they thought the dive was over. The first dive was at the beginning of the month and the divers were ascending to their safety stop at five metres, when luckily they looked down and saw a manta ray swimming along below them. If they had not been observant, the manta ray would have glided past without anyone being the wiser! The second wonderful sighting was as the divers had finished their safety stop and were actually swimming slowly to the surface, when Ondyne saw three bottlenose dolphins swimming past, she shouted to everyone and they quickly turned and watched the dolphins as they swam past.
Ocean Experience trips have been great fun with lots of sightings to keep everyone entertained. One trip was really memorable as we saw big patches of splashing water - as we got closer everyone could see the small bait fish jumping out of the water, trying to escape the tuna that were chasing them. We watched for ages as they darted around and jumped clear out of the water, sometimes you could actually hear the water “swoosh” as the small bait fish moved in unison trying to outrun their predators.
Other Ocean Experience trips produced sightings of a manta ray, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, hawksbill and green turtles and many different kinds of reef fish.
Although winter is slowly approaching, April and May tend to be the months with the best diving conditions, so we can’t wait to see what next month brings.
Congratulations to the following Divers:
Bobby and Janine Bullen and James and Sophie Lindsay for completing their PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course.
Freddie Cloke and Abbey Hulett for completing their PADI Bubblemaker Course.
Sarah Bloy and Kate Hulett for completing their PADI Open Water Course
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Ondyne, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team