Newsletter: Just swell

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No dives planned  

Anemone at the Two Oceans Aquarium
Anemone at the Two Oceans Aquarium

Given the time of year, the large swells we are having are not all that unusual. Neither is the odd day or two of south easterly wind. Friday and Saturday feature both these gremlins, so conditions won’t really be great. Sunday’s forecast is a little rosier, however I doubt the visibility will have recovered and the surge will still be a lingering factor. This weekend my choice is to stay home.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Divers’ choice

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No dives planned

Rough seas at the Cape of Good Hope last weekend
Rough seas at the Cape of Good Hope last weekend

False Bay is not exactly horrid at the moment, but nor is it spectacular. There has been a few weather systems one after the other so if you must dive, take a drive and look around before deciding where to get into the water. Windmill and Long Beach should be diveable and Sunday would be the better day of the two. Expect some surge. I have no dives planned.

regards

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

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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: Keeping current

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

We dived Long Beach today in surge, strong current and lousy visibility. It is full moon and we have had some swell but I was hoping it would be ok – it wasn’t.

Weekend conditions do not look ideal for recreational (fun!) diving. Better luck next week I hope.

Rock lobster munching a sea jelly
Rock lobster munching a sea jelly

Date to diarise

There’s a talk on South Africa’s inshore marine resources, with special reference to West Coast rock lobster stocks, happening on Wednesday 18 October under the auspices of Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group. It starts at 7.30pm at Kommetjie Christian Church. There’s a blurb with more info here. It should be an extremely interesting event, and I’d particularly encourage you to attend if you are a keen crayfisher in season…

regards

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

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Newsletter: Snack time

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives from Simon’s Town harbour, suitable for Open Water divers

Cormorant eating a pipefish
Cormorant eating a pipefish

It is a long weekend, however not one suited to three solid days of diving. As we speak, the swell has just reached 7 metres on the the CSIR buoy off Cape Point. The swell climbs and drops during the weekend, as does the wind.

All things considered, I think Sunday will be the only decent option. The water should be clean and the swell has more of a westerly tendency than it has today.

We were out last last Friday just after the storm swell and the surge was heavy. It was also by far the most trying conditions I have ever had to launch and retrieve the boat in. There were huge kelp islands and much foam all over False Bay. This week was a lot better and yesterday the visibility was 6 metres plus, and the surge manageable. It is that time of year where we have storms and swell and they often disappear as fast as they arrive.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Load shedding tips

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No diving!

Conditions report

It is once again a weekend that does not bode well for diving. We are looking at pretty much the same conditions that were around last weekend and from what I have gathered the conditions last weekend were somewhere between lousy and appalling. A 3-4 meter swell arrives tomorrow. It drops but lingers on Sunday and reappears in force on Monday. Both False Bay and Hout Bay are very green and brown and viz reports have been very poor.

I doubt the weekend will deliver any good diving, sure if you really need to dive and can deal with the surge and low viz then try sheltered sites from shore. For us, we will stay high and dry.

Congratulations

Life of Brian
Life of Brian

Brian, whom many of you will know from the time he spent here in late 2013 during which time he did his Advanced course and got comfortable diving in cold, not always clean water, qualified this week as a diving instructor in Hawaii. He has accepted a job at a dive centre there, and if you head out that way be sure to visit him. He is pictured above doing the aircraft recovery specialty, the raw egg specialty, and his best Grumpy Cat face. Well done Brian!

Load shedding tips

One way to guarantee that your area will not experience load shedding is to buy a generator, fuel it, wire it for connection to the mains, and then wait, with the excitement of a child, for the power to go out. It won’t, I promise. You can thank me later.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

To subscribe to receive this newsletter by email, use the form on this page!

Diving in Sodwana

We enjoyed a beautiful few days diving in Sodwana in April. My photos were really poor, but I did take some videos that are marginally better simply because the water was so clean and the surroundings were so lovely. So here is a taste of what it’s like to dive at this wonderful diving destination. All of my dives were done on Two Mile Reef, the most heavily dived part of the Sodwana Reef system.

Here are some of our group of divers at Chain, a site at the southern end of Two Mile reef.

Chain is named after a ship’s anchor chain that (apparently still) lies across it. I have never seen this chain, and word is it’s practically invisible under all the encrustation of marine life by now.

I had never dived Zambi Alley before this most recent trip to Sodwana. It’s also a site on Two Mile, in the southern part of the reef adjacent to Chain. It’s named for the fact that fishermen used to see Zambezi (bull) sharks swimming up and down the sandy alley here. There aren’t any of those left here any more, but it’s still a beautiful dive site.

Stringer is one of my favourite dive sites on Two Mile reef. It is a nursery area for juvenile fish, and some lovely elusive specimens can be spotted there with a bit of patience.

Another site that was new to me this trip is Garden Route, which we dived more than once because it’s roughly in the middle of Two Mile reef and thus protected from the swell and surge to a certain degree, as well as from sand kicked up by the water movement. The coral here is magnificent.

Sodwana diving photos (April 2014) – part I

We’ve been back from our Sodwana trip for almost a month, and I’m starting to look forward to my next dive trip, which has not been planned yet. Alas. With this small problem in mind I had a rummage through the underwater photos I took while we were in Sodwana, to try and recreate the experience.

Under the boat
Under the boat

I haven’t done a lot of diving this year, and no underwater photography to speak of, so I viewed my camera as a strange, unfamiliar machine when we arrived in Sodwana, and spent most of the six dives figuring out how it all worked (again). Furthermore, my confidence in my buoyancy wasn’t great at the start of the trip, so I didn’t want to go too close to anything. I want to punch divers who crunch the coral, so I didn’t want to be that diver this time around!

Swimming across the sand gap at Stringer
Swimming across the sand gap at Stringer

As a result my underwater photos from the trip are mostly quite questionable. I include some here, more to show you how beautiful the reefs and clear water can be in Sodwana, rather than for you to marvel at my prowess in underwater photography. I took several videos, which I’ll share in the coming weeks – you can get an idea of how good the visibility is and how abundant the coral is from a bit of moving picture footage.

Angie photographing snappers
Angie photographing snappers

We struggled a little with the surge on one of our diving days in particular, but this is something that is a fact of life when diving on South Africa’s north coast. We mostly did shallow dives, and the reefs at Sodwana lie along a very exposed stretch of coast with few natural bays to protect divers from wind and swell. These factors combined to expose us to some near-washing machine conditions at times! Relaxing in the water and letting the surge move you about is the only way to deal with it, assuming you’ve got a handle on your buoyancy. Holding onto the reef or swimming against the surge are bad ideas.

You can see some photos from past Sodwana diving trips here.

Clownfish in their anemone
Clownfish in their anemone