Newsletter: Cool opportunity

Hi divers

Long weekend dive plans

Tuesday: Early boat dives from Hout Bay

Last weekend we had boat dives out of Hout Bay, to two of the lesser dived sites (the Sentinel and Die Josie). Maori Bay was very green but we found lovely visibility right up against the mountains.

Happy divers at Die Josie
Happy divers at Die Josie

The water in False Bay is very clean and cold right now. Sadly, the wind for Saturday is at the limit of what I think will be pleasant. Sunday’s wind will be way too strong. Furthermore, the Navy Festival this weekend spells traffic chaos as well as parking issues for boat trailers and tow cars.

These reasons induce me to skip diving over the weekend and plan boat dives for Tuesday, which is a public holiday. The Atlantic will again be cool, flat and clean so we will launch from Hout Bay, nice and early. Text or Whatsapp me if you want to be updated on meeting times and dive sites.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: It is a weekend

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore diving at Long Beach, meeting at 10.00 am

Sunday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club at 9.00 am, to Roman Rock and the wreck of SAS Pietermaritzburg

It is certainly going to be the best weekend in a while, as far as diving goes. There has not been too much of that recently! There are light winds and a 3 metre swell, but it is a westerly swell so I don’t think it will affect False Bay too much.

We are shore diving at Long Beach on Saturday, and boat diving from False Bay Yacht Club on Sunday, to Roman Rock and the wreck of SAS Pietermaritzburg. If you’re keen to dive, let me know.

Huddle around the buoy
Huddle around the buoy

Dates to diarise

Next Sunday, 12 March, is the Cape Town Cycle Tour, so don’t make any plans to move around the city unless it’s by bicycle…

The following week(end), 17-19 March, is the SA Navy Festival in Simons Town, so we will try to schedule dives out of Hout Bay that weekend.

Don’t forget…

… to download the Shark Spotters app for updates on shark and other marine wildlife sightings, beach conditions, and more. You can find the app in the Apple app store, and the Google Play store.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Sitting it out

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sitting this one out

View from Crayfish factory towards Misty Cliffs
View from Crayfish factory towards Misty Cliffs

We’re going to give diving a miss this weekend. See you in the water next week, if the meteorologists give us good news!

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Purple crayons

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Possible dives out of Hout Bay if the wind and swell give us a break!

It seems the forecaster at WindGURU found the box of purple crayons and has been liberal with them. Other than a slight lull in the wind forecast for Sunday, it’s purple all of next week too. I very much doubt we will get out on Sunday as there is currently a 4 metre swell flexing its muscles. The Atlantic water colour and temperature show signs of great visibility so if the wind is acceptable on Sunday we will launch from Hout Bay. Text, mail or Whatsapp if you want to be on the list.

Diversnight 2016 at the Simon's Town jetty
Diversnight 2016 at the Simon’s Town jetty

Diversnight 2016 took place last weekend. We dived off the Simon’s Town jetty in a chilly wind. Luckily the visibility was excellent and the fishermen only arrived towards the end of our dive. There are a few photos on facebook.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Bird aboard

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday and Sunday: To be confirmed depending on what the wind does!

The day time temperatures are getting to a point where T shorts and shirts are a common sight. Despite the odd off day the sun has been doing good work and the water temperature is nearly 17 degrees in False Bay… In most places. Lest we forget, the south easter also makes itself known again at this time of year, and this weekend is a good example.

Heron on the NSRI boat in Simon's Town
Heron on the NSRI boat in Simon’s Town

It blows hard all day tomorrow and lets up a little for Saturday and a little more for Sunday. It is likely to be last minute call as to whether we head to Hout Bay or False Bay for the some dives. If you want to be on the list for either Saturday or Sunday get in touch and I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t forget

Diversnight is next Saturday, 5 November! Charge your torches!

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Copycat weather

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: shore or boat dives, depending where the viz is!

A cold front arrives tonight and will make itself felt until Saturday evening. Sunday will be best for diving. I have student dives to complete; if the inshore conditions are good, we’ll shore dive. If the visibility is only to be found further out, we’ll launch Seahorse. If you’re keen to get wet, let me know and I’ll update you on Saturday afternoon.

Storm clouds
Storm clouds

Keeping out of trouble

There’s lots going on as we sail into spring:

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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Newsletter: Swell weather

Hi divers

After a few days of rain and southerly swell False Bay does not look that great. This swell direction is set to stay for a few more days and in fact changes only on Monday. There is some south easterly wind on Friday and Saturday but not really strong enough to clean up the Atlantic enough for decent visibility.

Storm clouds at Zeekoevlei
Storm clouds at Zeekoevlei

I think it may well be a dry weekend as far as diving is concerned, however if things start to look more promising than they currently do, I will be in touch. Let me know if you’d like me to message you if we go diving.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

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A Christmas dive with cowsharks

One of Cape Town’s best known dive sites is called Shark Alley, located close to shore near Pyramid Rock in False Bay. Here, broadnose sevengill cowsharks may be seen fairly reliably. There are times when they aren’t around (perhaps owing to a recent orca predation, or some other mysterious cause).

Jerrel filmed this beautiful footage on a dive at Shark Alley in December 2014, on a calm day with pretty good visibility. Look out for our boat, Seahorse, and of course the sharks. Thanks to Jerrel for the video!

If you’re curious as to how one conducts a dive with three metre long apex predators, check our our protocol for scuba diving with cowsharks. An ethical dive operator will also inform you of the likelihood of seeing the cowsharks, and whether they have been seen recently (i.e. in the last few days) by divers, before accepting money to take you diving at the site.

A visit to the Blue Planet aquarium in Copenhagen

On our last day in Denmark, after a week-long family visit between Christmas 2015 and new year 2016, we went to Den Blå Planet, Denmark’s national aquarium. (Actually we were wrong about it being our last day in Denmark, but that’s another story involving Turkish Airlines, who seem to innovate in the field of disappointment.) The aquarium is situated in Kastrup, Copenhagen, quite close to the airport, and overlooks the narrow sound called the Øresund, which separates Denmark from Sweden.

The Blue Planet after the mist cleared
The Blue Planet after the mist cleared

We visited on 1 January, after (eventually) sleeping through the sounds of Copenhagen’s residents letting off five hundred metric tons of fireworks, starting at 5.00 pm the day before. We bought tickets online (a small saving in Danish krone that amounted to eleventy million ZAR) and arrived at opening time. The building is surrounded by a reflection pool, and is built in a spiral form inspired by the shape of a vortex. In the larger halls the high ceilings give a tremendous sense of space; at 10,000 square metres, the building is very large. The halls are generally wide and I imagine it could accommodate a very large number of people before feeling crowded.

Layout of The Blue Planet
Layout of The Blue Planet

The aquarium is divided into three sections. The first is focused on the life found in the lakes and ocean of Denmark and northern Europe. I particularly enjoyed this first part of the aquarium. The animals are adapted to the cold water, so some of them were very similar what we find around Cape Town, and the displays were creative and interesting. There was also the obligatory “anchor with fish” tank, which was (as always) mesmerising. One of the pictures in the gallery below is of Tony checking it out.

Two sea otters live at the aquarium, having been rescued as infants and raised by hand. The male and female otters were found in Alaska when they were four months old with a broken jaw and wounds after a boat strike, and as a 1.5 kg abandoned one day old respectively. As usual, seeing such an intelligent animal in captivity stirs up all sorts of conflicting feelings. That said, you are a stronger person than I am if you could have left these two baby otters to their natural fate (that is, death). The otters spend a lot of time (up to six hours per day) grooming, and in between keep very busy, requiring a lot of enrichment from their four keepers. It was magical to see them.

Also in the northern seas and lakes section is the puffin exhibit, mimicking the cliffs of the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory. Here, also, we found a touch pool (which the Danes call a sensing-aquarium), and a terrifying ambulatory mascot.

The second section of the building is devoted to tropical lakes and rivers, with incredible freshwater exhibits. We saw piranhas, terrapins, frogs, little black rays the size of pancakes, with white polka-dots, and electric eels. The rainforest exhibit is kept at a temperature and humidity level that are impressive in the Scandinavian winter, and I can imagine that this part of the aquarium is popular with expats from warmer climates!

The third part of the aquarium is for the rest of the ocean, and although it’s a big ask to cover (or summarise) so much in the remaining space, it does a fabulous job. The Ocean tank holds four million litres of water, and is home to rays and hammerhead sharks, and other warm water fish. Amongst many other things, there are seahorses, leafy seadragons and coral reef fish to see.

Feeding time in the Ocean tank
Feeding time in the Ocean tank

We watched feeding time for a while, which was quite funny – the aquarists row out onto the water in a small inflatable boat, and administer the snacks from on board. Standing in the tunnel, we could see the boat from below, with the oars working frantically against what I imagine was a bit of surface current.

One of the things that Den Blå Planet does really well is to integrate multimedia, virtual reality and interactive technology into the aquarium experience. This reduces the number of animals required to be on display, and – for the most part – probably takes care of itself, requiring no cleaning and feeding. My favourite such exhibit was the bouncy plankton wall in the ocean section of the aquarium. The photo below is pretty terrible because the display moves all the time, but I put a video on instagram which shows how the plankton clear a space for you when you walk along the wall.

Plankton multimedia display
Plankton multimedia display

We finished off our visit with a flæskesteg sandwich at ØST, the restaurant at the back of the aquarium. It was still a bit misty, but the large windows looking out over the sound let in a lot of light. There is a play area outside, and despite the midwinter temperatures, children in snow suits were making the most of it.

The restaurant at the aquarium, ØST
The restaurant at the aquarium, ØST

I did not get the same strong conservation message from my visit to The Blue Planet that I think the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town works so hard to propagate. This could be because of different cultural approaches to living a “green” lifestyle; in Scandinavia the government does a lot of the work for you, providing renewable energy, prioritising  pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and making it ridiculously easy to recycle, for example. In South Africa it is more of a conscious personal choice and effort to reduce one’s environmental footprint, and there is there is thus perhaps more of a requirement for direct conservation messaging.

Anyway, if you’re in Copenhagen, visit! Next time we’re in Denmark, we’ll check out the little Øresund Aquarium at Helsingor, which is entirely focused on local fauna.

Newsletter: Whether the weather

Hi divers

We ventured out to Long Beach last weekend and found the conditions to be less than ideal: surgy, especially for a 10 year old student, and with 3-4 m visibility. Winter diving is around the corner and we look forward to improved conditions.

The forecast for the weekend is not that great. The visibility is reasonable, but there is currently a 17 second period swell in False Bay and that won’t do much to maintain the viz. Saturday looks to be the best option for boating, but an early start is needed as the wind picks up around midday. I will make the call late tomorrow afternoon as to whether we have launch weather or not. Text, email, call, or Whatsapp me if you want to dive.

Strepies at Long Beach
Strepies at Long Beach

Cowsharks

It’s been an exciting week at Shark Alley, unless you’re a cowshark. Several dead cowsharks have been found this week, and no live ones have been spotted. The dead cowsharks appear to have been skilfully predated upon by orcas! We observed a similar phenomenon exactly a year ago. There’s some more information and a photo of one of the sharks on the Spot the Sevengill Shark facebook page (and a further update on the dissection results here).

This is also a good opportunity to remember what a privilege it is to dive with the cowsharks by viewing a video Jerrel recently compiled from footage taken at the site just over a year ago. We have a cowshark diving protocol as a reminder of how we approach this amazing dive.

Dive gear sale

Monty of Scuba Culture is having a stock clearance sale, so if you’re in need of a hose, a cutting tool, or something else shiny or cool, contact him to find out what he’s got available.

MPA Permits

Please remember to bring your permit to dive in a marine protected area with you when you come for a dive. Ideally they should be on the boat with you when you come diving (as that’s where they’ll get checked). If you don’t have a permit, the post office can help. We also have temporary permits available, valid for a month, but not very cost effective.

regards

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099
www.learntodivetoday.co.za
www.learntodivetoday.co.za/blog/

Diving is addictive!

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