Weather conditions were unsettled at the beginning of the month due to a big system out to sea. We were not the only ones affected as this weather system caused enormous swells all the way along the coastline – to the south towards Durban and north up into Mozambique. We were unable to launch for a couple of days due to the big swells. It brought some much-needed rain to our area though, so we were grateful for that. Once the system passed, conditions returned to normal for the rest of the month with visibility averaging between 15 and 25 metres and water temperatures of 25-27° Celsius.
Ocean Experience trips were wonderful with regular sightings of bottlenose dolphins as well as a few sightings of spinner dolphins. There were a few really memorable trips this month. The Potgieter, Williams and Waters families are regulars at Rocktail and the kids love spending their holidays together at the beach. The kids all decided to do an Ocean Experience and they were so excited – they got to snorkel with a pod of bottlenose dolphins, right behind Island Rock and were also lucky enough to see a potato bass and a grey reef shark, not to mention all the corals and reef fish. They couldn’t wait to rush back and tell their parents what they had missed.
On another occasion we came across a huge pod of spinner dolphins, some jumping out of the water and spinning, whilst others raced alongside the boat. They were very playful so we decided to try and snorkel with them. As we got into the water, a huge group swam right underneath us. What an amazing sighting! It is not always possible to snorkel with them as they swim so fast.
Yet another great trip provided guests with the opportunity to see a sailfish, a green turtle and a spotted eagle ray – all from the boat before they even got into the water to do some snorkelling.
Ray sightings were plentiful during dives and included marbled electric rays, blue-spotted stingrays, blue-spotted ribbontail rays, big black round ribbontail rays, honeycomb stingrays and dragon rays. A baby sharpnose stingray was really exciting to see, it must have only been about 30 cm in size; not often that you get to see a baby.
A dive at Yellowfin Drop produced a huge spotted eagle ray being followed by a grey reef shark, the pair of them swimming, nose to tail, down the outside edge of the reef. Not sure what was happening there!
As far as the little critters go, sightings were also excellent. Purple paperfish, orangutan crabs, whip coral shrimp, nudibranchs, flatworms and tiny mantis shrimps were all seen. The pair of harlequin shrimps that have been living in one of the caves at Aerial Reef was still there at the beginning of the month but by mid-month there was only one. We are hoping that perhaps the other one was off searching for a new starfish for them to share. We will keep you updated next month.
Yours in diving, Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team