Africa with Wilderness Safaris
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August was an action-packed month here at Rocktail – sharks, whales, dolphins, manta ray, balls of bait fish – I hardly know where to begin.
There were lots of shark sightings throughout the month including blacktip, grey reef, tiger sharks and even a mako shark! We were travelling along watching some humpback whales and spinner dolphins when Clive spotted the mako; it did not hang around for long but you could clearly see its long pointy nose. We were very excited to see this shark as they are usually found out in the open ocean and not so close to shore.
A dive at Elusive with just Christopher Bartlett and me proved to be one to remember. As soon as we began the dive, Chris settled in to take some pictures of a big honeycomb moray eel. I was looking around the area at some small things – nudibranchs, porcelain crabs, squat shrimps in an anemone – whilst waiting for Chris to signal that he had finished taking photographs of the eel and was ready to move on. I casually turned to look behind and saw a big tiger shark heading in our direction. As soon as I turned it also turned and started to swim away, I swam over and tugged on Chris’s fins, he turned and I signalled shark but it was too late, it had swum away. As we continued on the dive we saw a big black ribbontail ray, which posed happily for some photographs… as we continued we watched two spotted eagle rays swimming off into the distance. Good thing you decided to go with the wide-angle lens for that dive, Chris!
Pineapple Reef is a favourite and never disappoints, it has something for everyone from the small critters to the big boys to lots of wonderful corals. Niclas and Lenny enjoyed a very active dive here. First we saw a blacktip shark. As we continued along the reef we came to a section where all the fish were hunting. We sat on the sand next to the reef and watched. There were schools of slinger, fusiliers and scads racing around across the sand. Squadrons of blacktip kingfish and bluespotted kingfish charged the reef, chasing a ball of small silver fish. Two small potato bass charged in and out of the ledge, followed by mangrove snapper and a lyretail rockcod. These big fish were getting in on the action and trying to chase one another away so that they might have a better chance of catching something in all the commotion. We watched, mesmerised, until it was time for us to ascend. As we ascended we saw another blacktip shark. It swam in close to us then turned quickly and was gone. It must have heard all the commotion and came to see what was happening.
The following day, Edward Paul joined Niclas and Lenny for a dive. The Paul family and the Muller family have both been coming to dive with us for about ten years now and we had all been discussing how we had watched the kids grow up over the years and that we couldn’t believe how time had flown by. Edward had remarked to Clive in the past that the next time he saw Clive, he had better be in a suit. Well, Clive decided to do just that and surprised Edward on the beach! Edward had not noticed anything until he reached up to hand Clive his fins. Clive was standing on the boat and smiled as Edward looked up to see Clive in his jacket and tie. A good laugh was had by all. It was a pity that Edward’s children, Karl and Anke, could not be there to share in the fun; they were on holiday elsewhere at the time.
Also regulars at Rocktail, Arne and Lisa Gething from Cape Town were back for a week’s diving. They had some wonderful dives – octopus, harlequin shrimps, potato bass, razor wrasse and a filamented sand eel – though there was much to see travelling to and from dives as well. They saw humpback dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and big balls of little bait fish being chased by tuna. One of these balls of anchovies was being eaten by two grey reef sharks; Arne got in the water to try and get some photographs but unfortunately the sharks moved off. Arne got in with another bigger ball of fish and watched as about 15 diamond rays hunted these little fish. Thanks Arne for these fantastic photographs.
We enjoyed a spectacular dive at Gogo’s; as we moved down the reef we saw a big honeycomb moray eel sitting in a hole, watched a razor wrasse dancing across the sand and then saw a green turtle going about its business, swimming along the reef. As we approached the southern end of the reef we saw a grey reef shark, then another, then another. There were four of them circling above a cleaning station, we hovered and watched them for a while before they moved away from the area. As we continued we saw another shark in the distance. Gauthier and I ascended and as we were doing our safety stop we saw a big manta ray swimming towards us. The other divers had seen it as well and were swimming along underneath it, we watched as it swam past us and then followed it for as long as we could keep up.
The last dive of the month was at Elusive and it did not disappoint. There were three big black round ribbontail rays, one was resting on the sand and the other two were swimming around in circles. Then the divers saw two honeycomb moray eels also swimming around, they watched for a while and then as they continued along the reef they saw a little hawksbill turtle sleeping under a ledge, a green turtle and a loggerhead turtle.
Can’t wait to see what next month brings.
Congratulations go to the following divers:
Stien and Toon Vandevoorde – For completing their PADI Bubblemaker Experience
Jacqueline Cuffley – For completing her PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience
Elke Vandervoorde and Ben Vandervoorde – For completing their PADI Discover Scuba pool session
Lara Tanziani – For completing her PADI Open Water Course
Dario Tanziani – For completing his PADI Advanced Open Water Course
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team