Christmas gift guide 2018

Chaps, Festivus (for those of you who find tinsel distracting) is around the corner. This year, as a principle, the gifts that I’m giving to the people I care about are skewed towards experiences, and when they are things, I’m trying to make them beautiful things that will enable my chums to live more sustainable lives.

Before I get going, however, can I point you to this excellent, far more comprehensive, far more inspired gifting guide over at twyg? Their first suggestion is “don’t gift at all”, and this is probably something well worth considering, if it won’t cause a domestic diplomatic incident.

Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)
Tinsel from the sea (Champia compressa)

Here’s a quick list of ideas in case you’re struggling.

An experience

A dive course or boat dive with Tony, a family photo shoot, a day out at Cape Point or up Table Mountain in the cable car, a digital magazine or streaming television subscription – use your imagination!

Something water wise

It’s likely that most of us will never, in good conscience, be able to resume watering our gardens the way we used to. For this reason, water wise plants are high on my list of excellent gifts for keen gardeners. For ideas of what plants to choose, your local nursery will help, or you and the avid coastal gardener in your life can consult this excellent book.

Something to minimise waste

  • A set of stainless steel or glass straws (Sustainable.co.za is one stockist), glass or copper straws (check out EbonyMoon for these), or a pack of paper or other biodegradeable straws to keep at home and/or carry around like a dork for use at restaurants.
  • A reusable coffee cup – Seattle Coffee Company sells beautiful Keep Cups, as do Vida e Caffe and many supermarkets. ecoffee cup sells beautiful bamboo cups, with a range of designs to choose from.
  • A reusable shopping bag – most supermarkets stock bags of some description, as does Faithful to Nature. 3friends has beautiful Shweshwe printed bags that are very special. We should all have a reusable shopping bag in our handbags, as well as several in the car.
  • A bokashi bin, which you can find at Builders Warehouse or at many nurseries. Don’t be grossed out – we have significantly improved the soil quality in our garden, and don’t put out any food waste or scraps with our garbage any more, thanks to diligent use of this nifty indoor composter!

Something to lift up someone else

Some deserving, marine-related recipients of a donation on your friend’s behalf are:

There are many more excellent non profits than just these three, and so much need, but do your research carefully. My rule of thumb is, if the founder’s face is plastered everywhere and it looks more like a personality cult than an NPO, it’s not a cause that I want to give my bucks to.

A donation of time is a way to do something great, and spend time with someone you care about. Promising to join a friend for a beach cleanup followed by a coffee (in your reusable cup, your treat) gives a gift to the planet, and the gift of time to someone you value. To find a local clean up, follow the Beach Co-Op (facebook) and Cape Town Beach Clean Up (facebook). The Two Oceans Aquarium also arranges periodic beach cleans. (Non-Capetonians, facebook and google search are your friend.)

Looking back

Previous years’ gift guides, which contain some good ideas – if I say so myself:

  • 2017 – for info on Wild Cards or My Green Cards, small specific gifts for divers and water people
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013 – for info on gift ideas for readers
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010

Be safe, be kind, be frugal, be wise! Thanks for reading.

Newsletter: Better than nothing

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday and/or Sunday: Boat dives in False Bay

The forecast today is a little better for the weekend than it was earlier this week. There is some wind and some odd swell and swell direction changes but I believe it should be worth diving both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday will most likely be a little better. I have students on the boat on both days so there is not much space, however, if you are quick you can reserve a spot!

Zandvlei Nature Reserve
Zandvlei Nature Reserve

Things to do

It’s not as if one needs to actively seek out extra commitments at this time of year, but in case you’re at a loose end check out Wavescape’s Slide Night happening on Monday (you need to book in advance for this). You can get some adult education at UCT’s annual Summer School in January, and there’s something for you whether your interest is sharks or shipwrecks.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Many choices

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: A dive of some sort, boat or shore!

The Berg river dam and surrounds
The Berg river dam and surrounds

There is a better than average chance decent visibility will be found whether you dive Hout Bay False Bay, Table Bay or Gordons Bay. I think Sunday will be the better day and the most likely choice is False Bay for me.

The decision will, however, wait until late Saturday after I see what a drive around reveals. Text, mail or Whatsapp me to join.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Playing the odds

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives, location TBC

The odds are good that diving will be sort of okay on both sides of the peninsula, on both days of the weekend. We had 3-4 metre visibility yesterday in False Bay with lots of red tide patches. Strong south easterly winds tomorrow should push the red tide a little further into the bay.

The weekend has very little swell and although the wind does fool around a little, I think Sunday will be the best option. Hout Bay or False Bay I cannot say but will decide that on Saturday. If you’re up for a dive, get in touch.

Gannets at Bird Island in Lamberts Bay
Gannets at Bird Island in Lamberts Bay

Diversnight

Next Saturday, 3 November, we’re night diving at Long Beach. If you’re keen to participate in Diversnight, we’d love to see you. If you are going to need gear, let me know sooner rather than later.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Pick a side

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives either from False Bay Yacht Club or Hout Bay

Odds are that Hout Bay as well as False Bay will offer some decent diving on Saturday. I was out on the boat on Tuesday and Wednesday in False Bay and it was decent.

Hout Bay today was very green. A forecast of howling south easter for tomorrow may clean things up, but I think its best I decide where to go on Saturday after a look tomorrow afternoon. Let me know if you’re keen to dive.

Gull in Lamberts Bay
Gull in Lamberts Bay

Diversnight

Diversnight is on 3 November. It’s a night dive with a difference – learn all about it here. We’ll probably be at Long Beach this year to avoid the tricky conditions at the jetty at low tide (squelch!)x – here’s a facebook event to remind you of the date, and where you can post any questions you might have.

Shark Spotters / Little Optimist fundraiser

Monwabisi Sikweyiya, the original Shark Spotter and real-life hero, is participating in a race with a difference, having just learned to sail. He’ll be racing an tiny sailing dinghy against a host of other luminaries at the V&A Waterfront on 20 October. Sponsorships of Monwa will be split between Shark Spotters, who keep False Bay’s sharks and people safe, and The Little Optimist Trust, which assists ill and needy children to survive and thrive. Both very worthy causes! Donate here if you’re keen to lend a hand.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Summer’s due

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Monday: Boat dives from Hout Bay

Big anchor at Noup
Big anchor at Noup

I do wish for summer to arrive long before it’s due… For many reasons, but mostly because I’d like to reacquaint myself with my slip-slop collection. Along with summer comes the south easterly wind, and it is around this weekend. But I fear it’s too little too late to clean the Atlantic, and a bit too much for great False Bay conditions.

We will therefore have a dry weekend but will most likely launch from Hout Bay on Monday. If you can accommodate some weekday aquatic therapy, let me know.

regards

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

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A Day on the Bay: A Brydes whale for company

On a beautiful, calm day in early June this year, shortly after dropping my divers in the water, I was visited by a friendly Brydes whale. A Brydes whale – I suspect the same one – had been showing a strong interest in boats in western False Bay over the last couple of weeks.

The whale makes its presence known
The whale makes its presence known

I knew it was a Brydes whale because of the small, sickle-shaped dorsal fin far back on its spine. This one circled the boat a few times, and then headed straight for me like a submarine on the surface. It pushed a small wave of water ahead of it as it came.

The Brydes whale near the boat
The Brydes whale near the boat

It was a slightly intimidating sight as it ploughed through the water. It was an extremely calm day, so the boat’s motors were switched off. I waited with some anxiety to see what the whale would do.

The whale comes to investigate
The whale comes to investigate

After a close pass by the boat, the whale circled Seahorse several times, blowing lustily. It came back to the boat repeatedly over a period of at least half an hour. I kept the engines off, and made sure my life jacket was fastened. I hoped the divers might also be able to see what was happening! The whale was not hostile in the least, but an exuberant animal weighing between 12 and 20 tons, moving at speed, could accidentally tip me into the water in a heartbeat.

Brydes whale circling Seahorse
Brydes whale circling Seahorse

The whale lifted its head out of the water a few times, showing me the three rostral ridges on top of its head and the grooves under its throat, which also help with confirming its identification as a Brydes whale. Our whale book says that these whales often have small, circular cookie cutter shark scars, specially if they’ve been in tropical waters, but I couldn’t see any.

Brydes whale showing his head
Brydes whale showing his head

I find Brydes whales a little mysterious, because they can be seen year round in False Bay and somehow lack the predictability of the Southern right whales and humpbacks whose rowdy presence is apparent close to shore in False Bay between June and November. If you see a whale in the first half of the year in False Bay, it’s almost certainly a Brydes whale.

These whales calve year-round, because they don’t ever go into really cold water (False Bay is at the southern end of their range). This preference for warmer water is probably related to their relatively thin layer of blubber. They eat schooling fish and plankton.

Brydes whale off the bow
Brydes whale off the bow

Their blows are low and bushy, as you can see from my photos. They don’t aggregate in big groups like other whales seen along South Africa’s coastline, and you’ll see at most two animals together at a time, if that. These whales are still caught by the Japanese as part of their “scientific” whaling program.

After a while the whale seemed to lose interest, and left me to my thoughts as I waited for the divers (who were gloriously oblivious, it turns out) to surface. While it’s an incredible experience to have an animal like this approach you so close and with such confidence, I am glad it left. Ship and boat strikes are a very real danger to whales, and a whale that is so curious about boats could get itself into trouble in the busy boating areas close to shore in False Bay.

The whale disappears into the Bay
The whale disappears into the Bay

Regulations state that unless you’re in possession of a whale watching permit (and there’s only one operator in False Bay who has one of those), you are not to approach a whale closer than 300 metres, anywhere in South African waters. If a whale approaches you, move away if you can do so safely. If there are divers in the water, your responsibility is to stay close to the divers, so turn off your engines and enjoy the moment!

Newsletter: September calling

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Friday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Sunday: Boat or shore dives in False Bay, meeting at 0900

Norwegian fishing vessel Nordervon in drydock at the Waterfront
Norwegian fishing vessel Nordervon in drydock at the Waterfront

According to our weather station this week, the south easterly winds have arrived, and hopefully this is a signal for warmer weather to move in.

False Bay has been on and off this week with some swell, however the colour is not too shabby. I am launching tomorrow, and depending on what we find, on Sunday I’ll shore dive at Long Beach or boat dive from False Bay Yacht Club. If you’d like to dive, let me know.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Who you gonna call?

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

The forecast for Saturday looks rosy so we will launch from the Simon’s Town jetty at 9.30 and 12.00. Both dives will be shallow, most likely Roman Rock and Photographer’s Reef. False Bay is a little patchy so dive sites might change.

Yoshi the loggerhead turtle
Yoshi the loggerhead turtle

Turtles

Amazingly, we still meet people who don’t realise that baby sea turtles – and even big ones, if they’re poorly – can’t survive for long in the cold waters around the Western Cape. Luckily the Two Oceans Aquarium has a well-developed turtle rehab facility, where they look after turtle hatchlings and older turtles brought in by members of the public.

The turtles receive veterinary treatment, vitamin supplements, a healthy diet, and excellent care from a dedicated team of aquarists. The aim is to return all the turtles that regain sufficient health to survive independently, to the wild, as most sea turtle species are vulnerable. These turtles are released in each year in December, when the warm Agulhas current is at its closest to Cape Point, giving the turtles their best chance of survival. The most famous release story is Yoshi, who swam all the way to Angolan waters, and is now off Namibia again, heading south. Maybe she misses us.

If you find a stranded sea turtle, keep it safe and dry, and notify the aquarium as soon as possible. The NSRI can assist with large turtles, and know how to help. There’s more information on what to do here.

Like turtles? Want to read about turtle science in South Africa? We have just the book for you.

Diversnight 2018

This year, Diversnight is on Saturday 3 November. The aim is for as many divers to be underwater at 20h18 as possible. More details to follow closer to the time!

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Direction dependent

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club, conditions permitting

Karoo windmill
Karoo windmill

Saturday looks like the better diving option wind-wise, however Friday’s odd swell direction may trash the conditions, if it’s as southerly as the forecast says. I plan to launch on Saturday, weather permitting, but will make the call tomorrow afternoon. Let me know if you want to dive.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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