Ever had a 14-metre long, 40 tonne humpback whale come over and have a look at you? I mean really come and have a good look at you? A few of us very lucky Rocktail divers did this August! Damien, Morgane Petit, Olmo von Meijenfeldt, James and Grant Mackenzie and I were all hanging at five metres, completing our safety stop, when Damien turned suddenly and pointed into the gloom. The visibility was not great, only about six metres. I looked and saw a white shape in the water and as my mind was starting to think, ‘Wow, that’s a big shark,’ I registered that it was not a shark at all but the long side fins of a humpback whale! As it circled closer around us we saw that there were not just one but two whales. They circled us and then disappeared into the gloom. We all looked at each other signalling excitedly and then the whales returned and circled us again, looking right at us! Damien and Morgane were closest to the whales this time and they also saw a manta ray swimming along, escorting the whales! It was a moment all of us will remember for ever!
James was completing his Open Water course because he is really passionate about fish life. By the time he finished his four dives, he already had a pretty extensive list of fish species that he had sighted, not to mention the whales! Well done, James, look forward to diving with you and dad again soon.
The remainder of the month produced many more humpback whale sightings. A lot of the whales were still heading north but there were also many that were already heading south, on their homeward journey back to the Antarctic. We were pleased to see a few mothers with calves as we travelled to dive sites. Two days after Olmo had seen the whales during his safety stop he was back on the boat with Pam, who was going to be completing her Discover Scuba diving course. As we travelled to Gogo’s we spotted two different sets of humpback mothers with babies, a pod of bottlenose dolphins and then a spotted eagle ray. All this before we even began the dive! Pam was a natural in the water and what a wonderful dive she and Olmo had. They saw potato bass, a hawksbill turtle, a geometric eel swimming along the reef, a big honeycomb eel and a grey reef shark that was very relaxed and circled around us a few times before continuing along the reef.
Lillian Muller and Carl also had a great introduction to diving when they completed their Discover Scuba diving experience. The Muller family have been coming to dive at Rocktail every year for the past 10 years and finally it was Lillian’s turn to experience diving. Family friend Carl was also excited to give it a try. They both had a wonderful dive at Aerial Reef where they saw a green turtle, schools of blue-banded snappers, big parrotfish and a huge round ribbontail ray sleeping in a cave. Lillian was extra lucky as she was the only one to see four blacktip sharks! The sharks swam right in front of Lillian and me but by the time we signalled to the rest of the family the sharks had already gone. Other great news is that the frogfish Samantha found at Elusive last month is still there, hanging out in its favourite spot.
Despite all the excitement of the whales, sharks and dolphins, we have not forgotten the little critters on the reef. This month we saw many paperfish (one a tiny little baby just 1cm in size), an orangutan crab, octopus, razor wrasse, rockmover wrasse, scribbled pipefish, porcelain crabs, squat shrimps and, in one little cave at Pineapple Reef, a total of five different shrimps – Durban dancing shrimps Rhynochocinetes durbanensis, scarlet cleaner shrimps Lysmata amboinensis, clear cleaner shrimps Urocaridella antonbruunii, banded cleaner shrimps Stenopus hispidus and ghost shrimps Cuapetes tenuipes.
Looking forward to more humpback whale sightings next month – if you want to see them don’t miss out, the season will be drawing to a close soon!
Congratulations go to:
Pam von Meijenfeldt
For completing their PADI Discover Scuba diving experiences
Charles & Dylan Wells
For completing their PADI Open Water Courses
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team