It is really difficult to know where to begin and how to put into words some of the most magical moments that we have been lucky enough to experience at Rocktail this month.
David and Carla travelled up from Cape Town for a week’s diving at Rocktail – and what a week they had. The weather was wonderful, the water temperature was 27° Celsius and visibility averaged around 15-20 metres. They even decided to stay an extra day and they were so glad that they did. During their week of diving, they snorkelled with bottlenose dolphins, saw various grey reef sharks during dives at Yellowfin Drop and Brewers Garden and Carla watched as a whitetip reef shark swam around the group of divers and then casually swam right up to her as if to say hello before heading off across the reef. They saw the pair of harlequin shrimps, still in their cave at Aerial Reef, guarding their starfish. They saw a beautiful leopard shark at Coachman’s Ledge and watched a green turtle sitting in a ‘blanket’ of seaweed at Elusive. But the best sighting of all was of a big brindle bass at Pineapple Reef. It was just hovering under a ledge being cleaned. These huge bass are really awesome to see and with a few of the resident potato bass swimming around it was easy to make a size comparison and realise just how big these brindle bass get.
Everyone talks about beginner’s luck, but wow, were there some beginner divers with great luck this month! Father and son, Ken and Jake, decided to try diving and completed the Discover Scuba Course. Their dive was at Gogo’s and they really enjoyed themselves; they watched a green turtle swimming along slowly, saw a school of blue-banded snappers and a school of pick-handle barracuda. It was time to ascend and they were slowly heading up, looking down at the fish below them. As Ondyne turned to look around she saw a whale shark swimming right behind them! She screamed into her regulator for Jake to film it with his GoPro as in the excitement he had completely forgotten that he had the camera. They tried to get some video footage of the whale shark but it was unfortunately not that steady due to all the excitement; however, they did manage to get these photographs from the video. Thanks for sharing your video with us, Jake!
Also on the same dive were Yannick and Valerie, and Renz. We were all diving on the slightly deeper section of the reef and also having a great dive. Unfortunately, Yannick had been having hassles with his mask and had to go up early. I handed the buoy line to Renz as I ascended with Yannick, to make sure that all would be okay with his mask until he surfaced. The water was clear enough that we could still see Renz and Valerie below us as we ascended. I turned to look across the reef and also saw the whale shark. I grabbed Yannick’s hand with my left hand and swam pointing towards the whale shark as we swam together towards the buoy line, so that I could try to get Renz and Valerie’s attention. I tugged on the buoy line and did get their attention but all they saw was a big dark shark shape swimming along in the distance. In fact, during our frantic discussions later, it turned out that Renz thought it was a really big tiger shark! Both whale sharks and tiger sharks have very square head profiles.
It turned out that the whale shark must have circled Ken and Jake as they ascended and then circled Yannick and myself about five minutes later as we ascended. What a special dive for everyone.
Renz spent eight days diving with us and had some really special encounters too. The best dive of all was at Brewer’s Garden. The visibility must have been 30 metres plus, the water was like gin and there was hardly any current. As we moved along the reef we saw honeycomb eels, a dragon ray, and schools of slinger, potato bass and a big razor wrasse swimming across the sand. We then spotted a beautiful leopard shark resting on the sand in a little gully next to the edge of the reef. It was so relaxed it just lay there being cleaned by a couple of cleaner wrasse. Renz and Milanie lay on the sand in front of it for what felt like ages, whilst I filmed them all. We could have sat there for the rest of the dive time, it was so peaceful. After a few more minutes we moved away and continued our dive. As we moved along the reef, catching up to the rest of the group, Renz saw a bowmouth guitarfish swim right in front of him! I saw it in the distance but was unfortunately a bit too far behind to get a good enough picture of it.
Sea conditions changed towards the end of the month. We experienced a couple of thermoclines and the visibility dropped to about 10 metres. We would normally not be too happy about reduced visibility but this richer water brought with it some great sightings. As we were ascending from a dive at Gogo’s we spotted two devil rays gliding past. They were a great distraction from the slightly cooler water temperature. Then on the 30th, we had an amazing dive at Pineapple Reef. A few minutes into the dive a big manta ray with lots of remoras swam right past the divers. What a great way to end an action-packed month.
Can’t wait to see what April has in store for us all.
Congratulations go to the following:
For completing their PADI Discover Scuba diving introduction in the swimming pool
Melodie, Violette and Salome Palix
Gabriel and Lea Natali
Ken and Jake O’Kennedy
For completing their PADI Discover Scuba diving Course
Izzy and Honor Gibbs
Oscar and Coco Falconer
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team