Tony swims over the rocky bottom

Dive sites: Roman’s Rest

Tony swims over the rocky bottom
Tony swims over the rocky bottom

Roman Rock lighthouse stands near the entrance to the navy harbour in Simon’s Town. In its general (I use the term very loosely) vicinity one finds – amongst other sites – Tivoli Pinnacles, Castor Rock, Wonder Reef, Rambler Rock, and, of course, the Roman Rock reef system, which is right under and around the lighthouse. Grant didn’t drop the shot line right at the lighthouse as one would to dive Roman Rock itself, but at a set of pinnacles called Roman’s Rest which are at the eastern end of the Castor Rock reef complex. Wonder Reef is at the western end.

A flagellar sea fan swaying in the surge
A flagellar sea fan swaying in the surge

Tami and I agreed that this was one of the most beautiful dive sites we’ve visited in False Bay – it’s comprised mostly of large granite boulders and huge flat, sloping rocks that are rich with invertebrate life. The whole area is populated by various types of sea fan, giving the effect of an underwater forest.

Flagellar sea fan
Flagellar sea fan
Lots of cauliflower soft coral on top of the reef
Lots of cauliflower soft coral on top of the reef

I was a bit cold (it was the second dive I did that day, and I had not put on enough layers of wetsuit to compensate for the freezing boat rides to and from the sites!) so I didn’t manage any half-decent photos of fish. But we saw Roman (of course!), and a large school of hottentot or other nondescript silver fish hanging in midwater over the reef. There were many nudibranchs – contrary to our usual experience of seeing one at a time, we saw several that were often so close together that I could include them all in one photo.

Sea fans stand like small outcrops of trees over the reef
Sea fans stand like small outcrops of trees over the reef

The part of Roman Rock that we dived is a newish area, I think, that Peter Southwood is busy mapping for the Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay wikivoyage site. It’s a very, very special site – highly recommended. With the right equipment and good visibility, lovely wide-angle photographs can be possible.

A six-legged granular sea star
A six-legged granular sea star

There are a couple more pictures from this dive in the newsletter Tony put out in the week after we dived the site. The surface conditions were horrible but you can see that the visibility was very good indeed (by False Bay standards!).

Dive date: 27 August 2011

Air temperature: 19 degrees

Water temperature: 14 degrees

Maximum depth: 21.4 metres

Visibility: 10 metres

Dive duration: 42 minutes

Floating egg ribbon (?) at the safety stop
Floating egg ribbon (?) at the safety stop

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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