Newsletter: Exclamation marks!!

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Atlantic ocean boat dives at 8.30 and 11.30 am

I completed an SDI Open Water course with students this week, and we dived Long Beach on two days. The visibility was 3-4 metres on both days, and later in the week it was extremely surgy.

Roosting on the catwalk at Fish Hoek
Roosting on the catwalk at Fish Hoek

It does appear that the Atlantic dive sites will be the ones to visit this weekend. False Bay is not great right now and the south easter won’t help, however it is exactly that strong south easterly wind that is needed to clean up the Atlantic. The south easter has been blowing for much of the day today, and is forecast to continue tomorrow and Saturday.

It really needs to be south easterly wind and not a southerly wind, and most important it needs to be blowing in Hout Bay. Strong wind in the northern suburbs, or over False Bay, doesn’t always translate into the same over Hout Bay.  It drops off for Sunday, so clean cold water should be the order of the day. We will be launching from OPBC or Hout Bay (so we can check out the desalination plant) at 8.30 am and 11.00 am.

Water

Here’s this week’s Wednesday Water File from the WWF. It’s all about groundwater, and you should read it. If you’re feeling stressed and helpless about Day Zero, remember that we’ve been given the gift of a bit of time to prepare for it – and, just maybe, avert it (by using a hashtag, apparently) – so make a to do list, ask someone sensible for advice if you need it, don’t get scammed by a dodgy rainwater tank supplier, and get going.

regards

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

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On the reef in Sodwana

We wrap up the videos from Sodwana with a couple of clips showing everyday life on the reef. Both these videos were filmed on a beautiful dive on Pinnacles, Two Mile Reef, which was strangely not marred by an absolute circus of an Open Water course that was being conducted in the vicinity. (Pinnacles is a popular training site.) Despite antics which included two people’s weight belts coming loose at the same time, we were able to stay away from that chaos and to enjoy some incredible reef life. (Perhaps I will share some footage of the weight belt fiasco when a suitable amount of time has passed.)

Clown triggerfish having a munch
Clown triggerfish having a munch

First up, a clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspiccillum) going about his business on the reef. These fish are fantastic looking, and if you ask Sophie nicely, she will show you the hand signal for them, which requires both hands to be free.

Here’s pair of barred filefish (Cantherhines dumerilii) at Pinnacles:

Schooling in Sodwana

In addition to lots of bluebanded snapper, we saw other schools of fish while we were diving in Sodwana. A calm approach with minimal body movement allows one to get quite close to them. Here, a school of lunar fuslier (Caesio lunaris) are led by a lone yellowback fusilier (Caesio xanthonota), filmed on Two Mile reef.

We also saw this school of handsome humpback snapper (Lutjanus gibbus) over Pinnacles on Two Mile Reef.

Newsletter: Up to all of us

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Shore dives at Long Beach

The wind, strong as it has been, has not been from the right direction to create favourable diving conditions. The Atlantic needs good solid south easterly winds and there has not been enough of that yet. Tomorrow and Saturday are forecast to offer up wind from the right direction, but a 3.5 metre southerly swell will make for bumpy conditions even if the water cleans up.

This leaves us with False Bay. The swell direction is not one that is kind to False Bay so I think I will skip boat launches and plan shore dives at sheltered Long Beach on Sunday.

I will also be shore diving with students on Monday and Tuesday. Fun divers are welcome to join us as long as you’re happy to let me focus on my students. If you’re keen to get wet, let me know.

Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach
Hobie cat at Fish Hoek beach

Water

I trust that all of you are doing your very very best to save water and that you are thinking about and making plans for Day Zero, which seems more likely than not by this point. The WWF has started a helpful weekly publication to assist everyone through this period – read the first one here (pdf).

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Reef life on Seven Mile in Sodwana

While we were in Sodwana in September, one of the dives I did was to Seven Mile Reef, which is further out and less busy than Two Mile. The dive was also slightly deeper than the Two Mile dives we did, which meant there was less surge and conditions were a bit easier all round.

We saw some lovely fish behaviour, and I’ll share two short videos taken with a new camera (more on that another time) to illustrate it. First, a redfang triggerfish (Odonus niger) slides its body into a crevice in the reef as I approach, to hide. This is typical behaviour when these fish are nervous.

Here’s a semicirle angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus) concentrating very hard on feeding. These fish look like nothing so much as gorgeously decorated sheets of A4 paper with fins and a snout!

Snapper in Sodwana

Snapper are one of my favourite coral reef fish to dive with, because sometimes they’ll allow you into, or very close to, the dense schools they form over the reef. This must be what it feels like to be a fish, albeit one that breathes loudly and blows bubbles!

We saw these bluebanded snappers (Lutjanis kasmira) on a dive at Seven Mile Reef in Sodwana, last September. Notice the pair of Moorish idols (Zanclus cornutus) at the start of the video.

 Here’s another school of snapper we came across shortly after the first one. There are often other kinds of fish, including other types of snapper, in the school.

The Reef Guide is a good place to learn more about, and identify, the fish you see on dives off South Africa’s south and east coasts.

Newsletter: Summer fun

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Launching from False Bay Yacht Club for Roman Rock and Shark Alley

Returning to the jetty on a cloudy day
Returning to the jetty on a cloudy day

We have had more diving days this summer than is usual, and 2018 has started well with pretty good conditions and warm water… There have also been a few darker days. On Monday we were in Smitswinkel Bay with 1 metre visibility, but it looks good for the weekend. We had 19 degree water with 5 metre visibility at Ark Rock today, and I hope for the same thing tomorrow.

Saturday will be a bit windy, so we will plan for Sunday in False Bay. The most likely sites will be Roman Rock and Shark Alley, I would like to see a bit more of the sevengills after their long vacation. If you want to dive, let me know.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Map puffer in Sodwana

This handsome, uncommonly seen map puffer (Mappa puffer – honestly) swam towards me on Seven Mile Reef in Sodwana, and hung out for a minute or two while I took his picture. His patterns look a bit like a circuit board, don’t you think? These fish are solitary and quite shy, usually staying near overhangs in the reef.

The Reef Guide is a good place to learn more about, and identify, the fish you see on dives off South Africa’s south and east coasts.

Cleaning stations in Sodwana

A barred rubberlips at Pinnacles
A barred rubberlips at Pinnacles

A barred rubberlip (also known as a red-lined sweetlip, Plectorhinchus plagiodesmus) at a cleaning station on the reef at Pinnacles on Two Mile reef in Sodwana. It was a surgy day, but if you look closely you can see the bluestreak cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus), with grey, black and blue stripes, swimming in and around the rubberlip’s gills. The rubberlip opens his gill slits so that the wrasses can eat parasites and remove excess mucous, maintaining good health for the fish.

We also saw this yellowfin surgeonfish (Acanthurus xanthopterus) at a different cleaning station, on Seven Mile Reef, also being serviced by bluestreak cleaner wrasses. These fish are usually blue-grey or even brownish, but at cleaning stations they often change colour to a light blue-grey (as this fish has).

Here’s a busier cleaning station, on another dive at Pinnacles. There are two yellowfin surgeonfish, one of whom seems to get a bit cranky with the cleaner wrasses at the end of the video, as well as a crescent tail bigeye (Priacanthus hamrur) at the beginning. The spotted unicornfish (Naso brevirostris) should be easy to spot; their colouration here is much darker than in my fish ID book.

The Reef Guide is a good place to learn more about, and identify, the fish you see on dives off South Africa’s south and east coasts.

Newsletter: Happy Blue Year

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Launching from False Bay Yacht Club at 8am for a Smitswinkel Bay wreck / at 10.30 am for cowsharks

African penguin at Boulders
African penguin at Boulders

I’m launching early on Saturday for a student dive to one of the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks, and at 10.30 am for (most likely) cowsharks. They’ve been spotted by a couple of reliable witnesses this week!

The boat is already almost full, but if you’d like a spot let me know as soon as possible. We may also be able to go out on Sunday – let me know if you’d like to dive.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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