July began with good weather and sea conditions, visibility averaging around 16–18 metres and a water temperature of 21° Celsius; however, towards the end of the month a huge weather system moved up the coast bringing with it rough seas and heavy rain, frustrating divers as we could not launch for a few days. Some areas received over 300 mm of rain!
Even after the rough sea conditions, “Froggy,” the painted angler fish was still seen hanging out at Elusive and the pineapplefish that Sam found last month at Pineapple Reef was still hiding out in its little cave. Fingers crossed that they stay for a while longer.
Humpback whale sightings were more frequent, including quite a few sightings of mothers with their calves. The best sighting of the month seemed to be a showdown between two adult whales. First they were rolling around on their backs, flapping their long side fins on the water’s surface, then they disappeared only to surface again in style – breaching right out of the water! They must have breached about a dozen times!
Humpback whale songs were also heard during quite a few dives. As the divers descended at Coral Alley, they instantly heard the whales calling to each other. The songs were so loud, the divers felt as though the whales must have been right next to them. Sound travels well in water, so it is hard to know how far away the whales actually were.
There were two separate manta ray sightings this month. The first was on the 15th with just Gary and Jared Abrahams diving with Sam at Gogo’s. They had been snorkelling with a pod of very friendly bottlenose dolphins on their way to the dive site; then as they were diving they saw a huge potato bass with a juvenile golden kingfish accompanying it, a big school of sea pike, painted crayfish, paperfish, and a tiny geometric moray eel. Sam looked up and saw the boat above them and when she looked again she noticed the manta ray swimming right under the boat; then it swam down to the reef and they all got a great view of it.
The second sighting was at the end of the month. Anne and Sam were diving together and the sea was still a bit unsettled after the rough sea conditions and the visibility was not the best at about 8–10 m, but what an incredible dive they had at Pineapple Reef. The water was thick with schools of fish, including surgeonfish, coachman, rainbow runner, fusiliers and slinger; there were also some barracuda hiding in amongst these fish; they saw five potato bass, a big honeycomb eel and a grey reef shark; then to top it all off a manta ray swam right past them, did a little circle, swam back towards them and then off into the distance!
Yellowfin Reef is one of our prettiest dive sites; it has stunning topography and is covered in all sorts of beautiful corals as well as a large abundance of fish life. Huge shoals of slinger, blue banded snappers, surgeon fish and fusiliers hang in mid water; trumpetfish hover quietly above the reef, grey reef sharks are often seen in the distance. Johan and Megan Bouwer were lucky to see a stonefish hiding under a plate coral. These fish have incredible camouflage and look just like a piece of rock. Megan got this picture which shows just how good their camouflage is.
Our Ocean Experience trips have also been exciting. On one occasion as Darryl was driving along the coastline he noticed a plastic drum floating in the water surrounded by juvenile fish. Some of the guests got in to snorkel next to the drum and see the fish. Suddenly there were excited screams from the snorkellers as a group of about 8–10 dorado swam up to them. These beautiful game fish are an incredible iridescent blue with bright yellow spots. They are also very curious and swam around the snorkellers for a while – a very special encounter.
Dolphin sightings were spectacular, with bottlenose dolphins sighted often throughout the month. The highlight was however when we had a huge pod of spinner dolphins in our area for a whole week. These dolphins are usually seen in deeper water, in the open ocean and they travel in huge pods at quite a speed. This pod however had decided to stay closer to shore and we saw them every day for a period of one week. They seemed to be hunting some of the time, although we are not sure what; it could quite possibly have been squid as this forms part of their diet.
Congratulations go to:
Kemba & Joseph Fletcher
For completing their PADI Discover Scuba diving pool experience
Marian & Michelle Van der Merwe
Laurent & Alex Jurvillier
Julian & Niels Volken
For completing their PADI Discover Scuba diving experience
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team