Newsletter: No weather available

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Nada! Stay safe!

The weather man has decided not to send any weather our way for diving this weekend. Instead, we get an 18 second, 6 metre swell with some wind speeds of around 40 km/h. The sane and safe thing to do is to stay out of the ocean; however for those that do brave it… Please post videos.

Storm clouds
Storm clouds

Diversnight

Curious about the origins of Diversnight? Read all about it here. Remember, it’s on Saturday 3 November.

regards

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

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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: Wet and windy

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

Driving through the Karoo
Driving through the Karoo

Actually, it is first going to be windy and then wet. Saturday’s wind is mostly northerly, which doesn’t clean the bay as quickly as a good amount of westerly wind does. To top that, Sunday has wildly different forecasts of between 5mm and 25mm of rain, depending on you choice of weather site. I prefer to use Yr.no and Windy.com for rain, and these two sites forecast rain all day on Sunday. I think it best we have a dry weekend.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Signs of summer

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Sunday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

The Admiral's Waterfall after heavy rains
The Admiral’s Waterfall after heavy rains

We are certainly seeing some strange signs of summer despite the fact that this time of year is supposed to be wet and cold. While the warm weather this month does make surface intervals pleasant, they do also mean we’re not having the rain we need, and they encourage plankton blooms, which reduce the visibility.

There are some large patches of algae blooming around but I think there will be clean conditions by Saturday if the current north westerly winds hold. I am keen to launch on Saturday and Sunday but will decide tomorrow on where and when. Let me know if you want to dive!

regards

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

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Newsletter: Clean bay

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club, conditions dependent

View of the Atlantic from the top of the tower
View of the Atlantic from the top of the Kommetjie lighthouse

The wind direction has been great and False Bay is very clean, if a little cold. The weekend has some southeasterly wind forecast and we will still feel the effects of the current 6-7 metre swell. Luckily the swell is westerly so it won’t be that harsh.

I have a dry day planned for Saturday, but will launch on Sunday if the weather behaves. I will have limited access to my phone tomorrow and Saturday so please let me know sooner rather than later if you want to dive.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Signs of winter

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No launches planned – diving on Tuesday and Wednesday next week!

The weekend has typical winter conditions. A long period swell of around 5-6 metres with 30 – 40 kilometre/hour winds means really rough and bumpy surface conditions, not the kind of conditions I enjoy diving in. We have no planned launches. Go flower hunting instead. (The flower in the picture, Hessea cinnamomea, only blooms the winter after a fire, and then goes dormant, sometimes for decades, until the next burn.)

Hessea cinnamomea at Cape Point
Hessea cinnamomea at Cape Point

The visibility is decent and that won’t change too soon. Tuesday and Wednesday have less swell and very little wind so we will launch then. Download a leave form and complete it, and send it in to whoever will miss you if you don’t turn up at work… And join us for some aquatic therapy.

regards

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

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Goose barnacles on the beach

A (lovely, rain-bringing) onshore wind left great rafts of kelp all over Noordhoek beach one weekend in mid May. Finding anything of substance on this beach is unusual; it’s on an exposed piece of coastline and all but the most robust objects are dashed to pieces before they arrive on the sand. Seeing all the washed up kelp also reminded me that frequenting the beaches inside False Bay, that are daily cleaned of washed up kelp by the City of Cape Town, is liable to give one a skewed idea of just how much kelp naturally washes up on the sand.

Kelp stipe covered in goose barnacles
Kelp stipe covered in goose barnacles

This time, there was kelp, and lots of it. Several of the pieces of kelp had been colonised by goose barnacles. There are several species of goose barnacle that occur off South Africa’s coast, but these ones are Lepas testudinata. They are incredibly strange looking animals, and some of them were still alive and writhing slowly in the drying sun.

In parts of the world (I’m looking at you, Iberian peninsula), goose barnacles are an expensive delicacy. I have nothing to say about that.

Goose barnacles, with my paw for scale
Goose barnacles, with my paw for scale

Lepas testudinata larvae most often attach to free-floating pieces of kelp (Ecklonia maxima) and plastic debris, which is why you have probably never seen these mesmerisingly gross-looking creatures while on a dive. In the picture below, you can see that they’re attached to the bottom of a kelp holdfast, where it would ordinarily attach to the rock. This shows that they attached after the kelp broke off.

A kelp holdfast encrusted with goose barnacles
A kelp holdfast encrusted with goose barnacles

Each barnacle is possessed of a long fleshy peduncle, or stalk, which attaches to the kelp holdfast, stipe or fronds. On the end of the peduncle is a carapace (shell) made up of five separate pieces. The large part of the barnacle on the end of the peduncle (what you’d think of as its body), covered by the carapace, is called the capitulum. The apparatus that the barnacle uses for feeding – essentially six pairs of hairy legs – reside inside the carapace, along with the mouth. There’s some more detail and a nice diagram at this link. If you are familiar with other kinds of barnacles – the volcano-shaped ones that live on rocks, ships, whales and piers for example, then most of this (except the peduncle) should sound familiar to you.

Lepas testudinata goose barnacles
Lepas testudinata goose barnacles

Research done around South Africa’s coast (published here) by Otto Whitehead, Aiden Biccard and Charles Griffiths, identified the marked preference of Lepas testudinata for attaching to kelp. The researchers surveyed a selection of beaches around South Africa’s coast, from the west coast of the Cape Peninsula up to northern KwaZulu Natal, between June and October 2009. When they found goose barnacles washed up, they recorded the species of barnacle, the type of material they were attached to, the dimensions of the object, and its location. They also estimated the number of barnacles in each colony they found.

Lepas testudinata was the species they found most commonly, of the six species in total that they identified along the area of coast that was surveyed. (There’s a nice picture of the six species in their paper, which I used to identify the ones I found.)  This species of goose barnacle was found to prefer kelp, as mentioned, and also tended to colonise large objects compared to the other species (this could, of course, be because pieces of kelp are usually larger than items such as bits of plastic, glass, feathers, and shells that some other species prefer).

Kelp fronds with goose barnacles
Kelp fronds with goose barnacles

Lepas testudinata was the only species of goose barnacle that the researchers regularly found to form colonies comprising more than 1,000 individuals. It is also the only species of goose barnacle recorded by the survey that is only found in temperate (cooler) waters, which happens to be where kelp is found, too.

The researchers note that the goose barnacles of the Lepas testudinata species that they found on kelp seemed to have exceptionally long peduncles, some more than 25 centimetres long, and that this seems to differ from what has been previously known about them (which is that they have “short, spiny” peduncles). They suggest that perhaps the variety of Lepas testudinata that colonises kelp may even be a separate species from the one previously described (more research obviously required to ascertain this). You can see from my photographs that the peduncles of the washed up Noordhoek beach goose barnacle colonies are also quite long, some easily 20 centimetres in length.

Clusters of goose barnacles on a kelp stipe
Clusters of goose barnacles on a kelp stipe

They also found that the increasing prevalence of long-lasting and buoyant plastic marine debris and other anthropogenic objects around our coastline, which some species of goose barnacles preferentially attach to, gives these weird little creatures increased opportunities to form colonies, and to spread to new places. This is one of those interesting phenomena to keep in mind, as humans inexorably alter the environment. Some creatures will benefit in strange ways from warming oceans, and others will find new homes in the garbage we leave lying around.

Newsletter: Awesome Autumn

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach

Sunday: Boat dives from False Bay Yacht Club

Autumn is a good time for False Bay diving! False Bay is currently pleasant, not too cold and the weekend does look decent after the latest weather updates. My plan is shore dives on Saturday, when it will be a little more windy, and boat diving on Sunday. Let me know if you’d like to get in the water.

Spring low tide at Muizenberg
Spring low tide at Muizenberg

Shark Spotters binocular fundraiser

Don’t forget to donate to the Shark Spotters crowd funding campaign to raise funds for new high powered binoculars for the spotters. Shark Spotters does fantastic work – read more about it here and here. You should also make sure you download their very cool shark safety and beach information app – available for both Android and iOS.

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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Newsletter: Seasonal changes

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Staying dry

Both days this weekend have swell, and wind blowing from the wrong direction, and the current dark colour of False Bay means we are definitely staying dry. The weather does look better on Monday and Tuesday for those that have a flexible work schedule – if you’re one such, get in touch.

The Shark Spotters centre at Muizenberg
The Shark Spotters centre at Muizenberg

Binoculars for Shark Spotters

The Shark Spotters team are running a crowd funding campaign to raise money for new, high powered binoculars for the spotters. I can tell you that the right pair of binoculars makes all the difference. Cape Town’s Shark Spotters program is an international model for a beach safety solution that protects both sharks and people. They are very deserving of your support – please consider contributing to the campaign at this link.

Citizen Science Day

I promised to remind you again about the SANBI Citizen Science day, and it’s rolling around this weekend. There’s a full program of short lectures from representatives of various projects on Saturday, free of charge, in the conference venue at Kirstenbosch Gardens. There’s more detail at this facebook event link, and a list of the talks here.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Red tide

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach

The last week has been interesting in False Bay with the huge patches of red tide that seemed to drift around aimlessly. There is still much of it around although it has diminished somewhat. The surface layer today at Outer Photographers Reef was a little dark, yet deeper than 16 metres it was clear.

Red tide near Simon's Town
Red tide near Simon’s Town

Tomorrow looks much like it did today as pertains to wind, with a touch more swell. The swell builds during the day tomorrow so I think Saturday will most likely be a shore dive day. Text me if you want to join in. Sunday, much windier, looks like a good day to mow the lawn… Wait… What lawn?

regards

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

Diving is addictive!

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