Dive sites (Durban): Birthday Ledges

On the boat waiting to get in at Birthday Ledges

On the boat waiting to get in at Birthday Ledges

After the mask trouble I experienced on Bikini Reef on the morning of 19 June, I was tempted to lie queasily on the beach in my wetsuit (very like a whale) and feel sorry for myself. The rational part of my brain quietly suggested that I should get back in the saddle immediately, and I’m glad I did. The second dive of the day was to Birthday Ledges, which was appropriate given that one of us was celebrating his birthday…

The birthday Batman

The birthday Batman

The boat ride out to the reef is fairly long compared to what we’re used to in Cape Town (it takes around half an hour to get to the SAS Fleur, and that’s as far out as most operators go) and Sodwana. After crossing the harbour entrance (completely thrilling!), we headed south along the Bluff, past the old whaling station – now a police shooting range and out of bounds to the public. Birthday Ledges is at the southern end of the Blood Reef complex in Durban, and is so named because it always throws up some sort of surprise. (Or, because it was discovered on someone’s birthday… Take your pick!)

Raggy scorpionfish

Raggy scorpionfish

We enjoyed a fantastic dive, with lots to look at and wonderful visibility. The reef is quite raised, with the ledge pointing out to sea, and there are many places to look under and into. This high profile provides a lot of habitat for the very territorial tropical fish, and hence much joy to the visiting diver. We saw two large frogfish, resting less than a metre away from each other. I spotted nudibranchs, scorpionfish, moray eels, and trumpetfish.

There was some weird rubbish on the reef, including a huge sheet of yellow and red fabric that our Divemaster tried to untangle from the rocks, unsuccessfully. The Blood Reef system is not far offshore and just around the corner from Durban Harbour, and I think a lot of debris makes its way out there where it gets caught on the reef.

Baby raggy scorpionfish

Baby raggy scorpionfish

Dive date: 19 June 2013

Air temperature: 23 degrees

Water temperature:  22 degrees

Maximum depth: 19.3 metres

Visibility: 20 metres

Dive duration: 46 minutes

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