Last month we were treated to the cutest sightings of humpback whale calves learning to swim and breach. September has proved to be a magical month for humpback sightings too. Towards the end of the month we began to see the southern movement of these whales as they start their journey back home - to the Antarctic, where the ice will start melting soon and they can once again feast on their staple diet of krill.
The water here has also started warming up again and we've enjoyed lovely 22°C temperatures the whole month long - yay! A sure sign of water temperatures rising is sightings of flying fish. It's such fun to watch these fish launch themselves out of the water and literally "fly" across the surface - sometimes travelling up to 30-40 metres out of the water as they frantically try to avoid becoming lunch for a kingfish, couta (king makrel) or tuna!
Pineapple Reef has provided the stage for some awesome dives this month. Christoph Schetelich was enjoying a dive on this reef, when Michelle spotted an orangutang crab - a tiny little creature which lives in a certain sea anemone and is seldom seen! A couple of days later Murray Saunderson and Christoph were treated to an unusual sighting of a white-weedy scorpionfish. Then a few days' later seven different rays were spotted on just one dive at Pineapple. These were: a porcupine, two sharpnose, two diamond, a honeycomb and a ray that she wasn't able to identify as it was swimming away from them when they spotted it. Wow? amazing what one dive can uncover!
Aerial is our lovely house reef - not even five minutes boat journey from our launch site. It has so much going on - turtles are often seen sleeping or munching away on seaweed here and the cleaner shrimp give superb manicures for divers who have never experienced this before! Christoph again had the luck of being the only diver on a dive to Aerial - and what a thrilling experience he had. Michelle was busy pointing out a paperfish to him, when upon closer inspection, she found that the paperfish had a shrimp in its mouth! Lucky paperfish - unlucky shrimp! Boris our resident potato bass on Pineapple had also decided to have a change of scenery and he was found happily being cleaned on one of the cleaning stations on Aerial.
Later on in the month, Aidan De Boer was partaking in his first ever sea dive with Ondyne and no sooner had they slowly descended onto Aerial Reef when they spotted a green turtle happily feasting away on some seaweed. Aidan was very excited and couldn't believe his luck when around the next corner we found a hawksbill turtle, posing just for us it seemed! We thought that would be the last turtle sighting but we were wrong. As we cautiously peered into one of the overhangs, out swam the biggest loggerhead male! We weren't sure who got more of a fright?us or the loggerhead! He was absolutely huge. The dive wasn't over though and to top it all off they found a Mauritius scorpionfish. This particular fish is very rarely seen, so what an incredible log Aidan has for his first sea dive, and what a wonderful introduction to the underwater world here at Rocktail! His family were thrilled to hear all about his underwater exploits - so much so, that his father, Kevin and younger brother Brendan have said they want to join Aidan underwater too when they plan their next holiday to Rocktail later this year. We look forward to diving with you all soon!
Our Ocean Experiences have been bearing lots of sightings of spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, eagle rays and of course lots of humpback whales and their calves. It's the start of turtle season next month, so we're sure to start seeing many more loggerhead turtles coming into the area. If we're really lucky we may even spot a leatherback turtle waiting for nightfall and the right tide to help her as far up the beach as possible to lay her eggs.
One little creature that has nothing to do with the underwater world, but has everything to do with the dive centre right now is a female grey sunbird. This little bird flew all around and after some deliberation, decided the best spot to build her nest was in our dive gear storeroom. A couple of days later her little nest was complete - hanging off one of our BCD's! She is certainly very clever, since building her nest in our storeroom, with the door always being closed, will prevent the vervet monkeys from getting to her eggs. While she was out one day, we carefully took a peep inside her nest and found two very pretty eggs, waiting to hatch. We'll keep you updated on the hatchlings in our next newsletter.
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Ondyne
The Rocktail Dive Team