Moorish idol

Sodwana diving photos (April 2014) – part II

What is Kate doing on the sand?
What is Kate doing on the sand?

Here are a few more underwater photos from our late April trip to Sodwana. Not great – see my disclaimer in yesterday’s post, for what it’s worth – but there you are.

Happy Otti
Happy Otti

Some of the sites we visited on Two Mile Reef were noticeably more barren – with less coral and more sand and rock – than others. I wonder whether this is a seasonal (or annual, or multi-year) variation, or whether it’s a slow process of the reef becoming silted up. Sites towards the middle of Two Mile, such as Garden Route, were covered with coral and looked exceptionally healthy.

Sodwana sees a lot of divers doing a lot of dives, year-round. There are at least eight dive charters operating from the beach, and Two Mile in particular sees some heavy traffic – including Open Water divers (many from Johannesburg) doing their first sea dives. During a recent conversation, Gerard blamed the heavy boat traffic for what he perceives as a slow decline in the health and biomass of the reef life in Sodwana; I wonder if the fishing activity that somehow co-exists with the dive charters has anything to do with it. Or perhaps we are imagining things, and just happened to dive on a few parts of the reef that were having a quiet day.

Sea fan on the sand
Sea fan on the sand

Sodwana is a Marine Protected Area, but perhaps it is not getting the monitoring and policing it requires to be fully effective. This is a widespread problem in all of South Africa’s MPAs, as well as a concerning lack of scientific thinking in the government ministries that are supposed to be keeping an eye on these things.

Freckled hawkfish
Freckled hawkfish

Whether we are imagining the changes in the reefs in Sodwana or not, it’s still a very beautiful place to dive, and worthy (as are all wild places on this earth) of our protection. You should go there and see for yourself!

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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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