Newsletter: Rolling on

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Sunday: Boat or shore dives in False Bay

The weather has certainly started warming up a little as we roll towards summer. A few days of north west winds will have helped improve the visibility this side of False Bay, however there is some swell heading our way. The swell doesn’t always arrive as big as it is forecast, so I am going to plan dives for Sunday (the better day swell-wise at this point). Depending on what False Bay looks like late on Saturday, I will then decide whether we launch the boat or do shore dives. Let me know if you want to join.

See through fish at the Dubai Aquarium
See through fish at the Dubai Aquarium

Dates to diarise

  • Don’t forget about Shark Night at the aquarium this coming Tuesday – details here.
  • Diversnight this year is on Saturday 2 November, and the dive clubs are hosting. It’s a super fun evening of night diving, and I suggest you put it in your planner. Facebook event details here.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Here’s a challenge

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Friday: Shore dives at Long Beach at 8am

Saturday: Shore dives at Long Beach at 12pm

I have students so I will shore dive both tomorrow morning and Saturday afternoon, after the marathon road closures. Sunday and Monday don’t look like good weather days.

Autumn on Fish Hoek beach
Autumn on Fish Hoek beach

City Nature Challenge

Besides a few days of challenging weather for the long weekend there is a different and way more interesting challenge heading your way: the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2019. This is a worldwide bioblitz event, happening this year from 26-29 April, during which you get a chance to get outdoors, spot species, and do some citizen science.

Cape Town is participating! If you like competition, we’re pitted against other cities around the world (last year San Francisco had the most observers, who saw the most species, and logged the most observations). Otherwise, it’s a fun opportunity to go diving (or hiking, or paddling, or however you like to get outside), and to share what you see with others.

With the iNaturalist app (for iOS or Android) or on the website, you can photograph (or upload photos you took with your camera) and record all kinds of wildlife and plants. You don’t even have to know what you’re seeing – experts will weigh in with identifications if you are unsure. These citizen science observations are invaluable for mapping species diversity and distribution and are used for all sorts of projects. You can use the iNaturalist app (or website) any time, not just during the City Nature Challenge, and it’s a great tool for recording flora and fauna that you come across, even in your own garden.

On Wednesday 24 April, Georgina Jones is giving a talk at False Bay Underwater Club about the challenge, and the sorts of species you could spot and record. More details on the facebook event page.

We’ll be diving next weekend, conditions permitting, and hope to have some observations to contribute to the City Nature Challenge. We’d love it if you joined us.

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

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Newsletter: Sorry, kids

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

No diving

The weather forecast for the weekend is wild and windy, and definitely not diving weather.

Diversnight 2017 at Long Beach
Diversnight 2017 at Long Beach

We had a great night dive last Saturday evening at Long Beach. It was calm but crisp, and we spent a lot of time watching a vast array of fish and invertebrates marauding around on the sand, hunting for their dinner. Clouds of fish fry, so thick that at the beginning of the dive we couldn’t see our feet, provided food for an array of predators. There were a lot of divers in the water, and it was great to see the dive clubs take ownership of this community diving event. Watch out for Diversnight 2019!

regards

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

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All about Diversnight (and the unifying power of cake)

November is around the corner, and with it one of the regular fixtures on our diving calendar: Diversnight. Diversnight is a community diving event, which aims to get as many divers underwater as possible for a night dive on the first Saturday of November, at a time corresponding to the current year. So last year we dived at 20:17, and this year, we’ll all try to be underwater at 20:18 (8.18 pm). Get it?

Night diving for Diversnight 2017
Night diving for Diversnight 2017

Diversnight is a Norwegian invention that has spread around the world. It’s a great way to meet and mingle with fellow divers. The event is for everybody and the aim is a collective one (which is very Scandinavian, now that I think about it) rather than a quest for individual glory. In the past we’ve been grateful to share the shallows with divers from various local clubs and origins. I’d encourage you to join in if there’s a Diversnight event near you, or start your own one, even if it’s small.

There is some information about the history of this mysterious Nordic scuba event on the Diversnight website, but (as usual) I had a lot more questions, so I contacted the Diversnight team to see if they’d be willing to submit to an interview.

Ludvig and the rest of the team were very kind to answer all of my questions, and the interview follows below. When Ludvig mentioned the Diversnight team’s belief in the unifying power of cake, I felt that we were kindred spirits. Hope to see you at one of the Diversnight events in Cape Town on Saturday 3 November at 20:18!

Traffic on the jetty for Diversnight 2017
Traffic on the jetty for Diversnight 2017

Who is the Diversnight team? Is Tone, who founded Diversnight (according to your website) still involved? Do you all live in the same town, or are you spread far and wide?

The Diversnight Team consists of three people:
Tone Svee Dahl – The founder of Diversnight. Still involved in keeping the rest of us in line with the Diversnight spirit.
Thomas Kalve – Designed and built the new Diversnight website, keeping all the technical doohickeys up and running making sure people can register both sites and numbers.
Ludvig F. Aarstad – Mainly running Diversnight communications on a semi-daily basis. Keeping the Diversnight Facebook page up to date with registrations from the Diversnight website, and generally trying to bring the word out to as many people as possible.

What kind of diving do you all usually do – are you recreational divers, or hardcore ice or cave divers?

The Diversnight Team is all recreational divers, though some of us has been known to dive under the ice on a couple of occasions.

How did you start to spread the word of Diversnight outside Norway?

According to the Diversnight History, Diversnight started off as a regional night dive through the website dykkesiden.com. Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish divers frequented this site. Most of the foreign users of the site were Swedish, and when they heard about Diversnight they wanted to participate and the Danes were also offered to join. When we saw that this was a great success, we actively contacted various diving websites on the internet.

How do you publicise Diversnight every year? It looks as though the number of divers participating each year changes quite a lot (up and down) – do you know why?

The date and time of Diversnight each year is published at both the diversnight.com website and the Diversnight page on facebook. We have also sent out this info via email to all registered contacts on the website, but we are now mainly focusing on using facebook as the communications channel.

Every year we see some sites dropping off and new ones joining due to various reasons. The weather has a huge impact in some areas, but it also boils down to how good we are in promoting the event.

Still we see that this has now become an important, yearly event for many divers, dive centers and diving clubs.

There was a very big increase in number of divers and number of countries from 2008-2009. Can you remember what caused that jump in numbers?

The reason for the huge jump in numbers from 2008 to 2009 is probably due to the massive use of facebook, and a real effort from all the Diversnight Team, when promoting the event. The Diversnight Team used to be bigger, and we then had more capacity then we have today. More people reach out to more people.

Can you tell me what a typical Diversnight dive is like for you in Norway? I am from Cape Town, so the sun sets at around 7.30pm in November. So it is not yet dark when we get into the water. The air temperature can be 15-20 degrees and the water 14-16 degrees. So it is a little cold, but not terrible. Most people wear wetsuits not drysuits. I imagine it is a bit different in Scandinavia?

In Norway, based on where you are located, the water temperature will range from 6 to 8 degrees. Surface temperature will be about 3 degrees, and it will be dark. Drysuit is a must :).

Speaking for my own club, the actual dive/event takes place like this:
People will gather maybe an hour before the actual dive time to ready their gear and register with the dive leader. We also usually have a treasure hunt during the dive, where sunken tokens can be exchanged for prizes, if found. If many prizes are left, the remaining will be in a raffle amongst all the registered divers.

Cake, coffee, mulled wine (non-alcoholic) etc. is served, and we have bonfires. Also, one year in Estonia they were more than 20 divers, diving between ice flakes. Still they were in the water with huge smiles after a fantastic night dive, even if most of them were using semi-dry suits!

On that subject, why did you choose November (originally December) and not June or July, when it is warmer weather? Or was it just by accident that it ended up being at that time of year?

The reason it was started in December is that the idea of a nationwide night dive was conceived by Tone at a place called Scuba Bar in Oslo, one November night in 2005. It took her/them roughly three weeks to get the concept together, with the idea of showing everyone that diving wasn’t just a summer activity and that even if the temperature shows -10 degrees celsius and it is pitch black it is still fantastic to dive and very social at the same time, being key.

The reason it was moved to November is because almost all of the Nordic dive sites were frozen over in December 2010, and the reason it was moved from being on a Thursday to being on a Saturday is simply by request of the Diversnight community.

Nigella's blondies for Diversnight 2017 - these were good (if I say so myself)
Nigella’s blondies for Diversnight 2017 – these were good (if I say so myself)

Is cake still a big part of Diversnight for you? What kind of cake did you have last year (if any)? We had blondies, which are chocolate brownies but made with white chocolate instead of dark chocolate.

Cake is still an essential part of Diversnight, and the Diversnight Team try to emphasize this as often as we can. On the first cake dive, Tone noticed how incredibly unifying a cake can be, so she kept inviting people to cake dives. The rest of Norway adopted this, and the tradition was born. By these cakes, people got to know one another, new friendships were established, and new buddy teams were formed. Cake proved to have a way more unifying effect than simply eating your food with others.

Again, speaking for my own club, last year we had a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting coloured ocean blue for the occasion and decorated with edible sea creature ornaments.

There is no special Diversnight cake, even though Tone has baked the same cake for years. The recipe was posted, by Tone, on the Diversnight facebook page, and on the diversnight.com website recently.

Is there anything that you want people to know about Diversnight, or any cool story you’d like to share?

Well, the story of Diversnight is cool by itself, and is covered by the article written by Tone herself on the website. We would like everyone to help us spread the word about Diversnight. We want Diversnight to keep living as a worldwide night dive, connecting people from the diving community all over the world through diversnight.com and the Diversnight facebook page.

Diversnight is a great way of showing the world that diving is a sport that can be enjoyed all hours of the day, all days of the week, all year round, even if you live in the cold north somewhere.

Through Diversnight, we all dive together, even if some are in Africa and others in Norway. The idea is to be together, have fun doing what you love, experience something together, and eat cake!

My husband’s children live in Denmark, so each time we visit them we try to explore a little more around Scandinavia. Last year we spent some time in Sweden, and Norway is definitely on the agenda for a future trip. What is the diving like where you are? Does it vary a lot around the coast? Do you dive in lakes too?

We dive in fjords and also out toward the open sea. The Norwegian coastline is very long, and offers a lot of excellent places to dive. To my knowledge, there is not much diving in lakes in Norway.

Getting into the water close to 20:17 for Diversnight 2017åç
Getting into the water close to 20:17 for Diversnight 2017

Many thanks to Ludvig for getting together answers to my many questions! We hope that Diversnight goes from strength to strength.

Newsletter: Weaker weather

Hi divers

Weekend dive plans

Shore and boat dives on Saturday and Sunday

Last Friday while diving out of Hout Bay we were visited by what felt like an overwhelming number – but was approximately fifty – whales. Most of them seemed intent on staying close to the boat and in fact a few rubbed themselves on the boat’s keel strip, which was slightly alarming. I stood dead still, wearing my life jacket, with the engines off and the boat stopped right next to the divers, hoping that they wouldn’t get too rowdy (the whales, not the divers). The divers had the amazing experience of whales at the safety stop.

Cetacean visitor in Hout Bay
Cetacean visitor in Hout Bay

We have been experimenting with early (6.00 am) and late (3.00 pm) launches for quick double tank dives to slot in as part of a well-planned work day. We’ve had lovely conditions and we’ve enjoyed seeing familiar places in a different light!

Hout Bay at sunset
Hout Bay at sunset

Dive conditions

We are starting to have fewer days of howling south easterly winds and it is a sign of good things to come, especially for those who prefer diving in False Bay. There is nothing spectacular in the weekend forecast: no howling wind, no huge swell and maybe a spot of rain. I think False Bay will be the place as the temperature of the Atlantic hit 19 degrees celsius today.

I have a backlog of students currently so we will try to shore dive and boat dive on both days. Once I have confirmed numbers I will text those on the “ready to dive” list. You know what to do!

DAN Divers Day

If you aren’t diving this coming Saturday afternoon (13 February), consider the DAN Divers Day at False Bay Underwater Club in Wynberg. It’ll be an afternoon of talks about dive safety and research, with local and international speakers. Register here – if you want to see the full program drop me an email and I’ll forward it to you.

regards

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

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Newsletter: Wind-windows

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Saturday: Early launching (meet at 7.30 am) from Hout Bay

The sad face of diving has still been in evidence and the howling winds have kept us dry for way too long. Saturday morning has a window of light winds, and we had better use it. It will by no means be epic diving as there is some swell, but I reckon it will be way better than anything we have had in the past few weeks (months!). We will launch from Hout Bay at 8.00 so please be there by 7.30 if you are on course. The winds are forecast to climb from late on Saturday afternoon so Sunday we will not be diving.

Simon's Town boating on a windless day
Simon’s Town boating on a windless day

Can you remember what days like this are like?

DAN Day

The next DAN day is at False Bay Underwater Club this Saturday, 28 February, from 2-5 pm. This afternoon timeslot means that you can dive in the morning and still attend! There is some more information here. I am sure if you email the folk at DAN tomorrow morning they will be able to accommodate you! These events are always extremely informative and highly recommended.

Mozambique trip

Please be in touch with me or Clare if you would like more information or if you’d like to join us from 29 June-4 July in Ponta do Ouro. Clare will start bugging those of you who expressed an interest for a firm commitment in the next few days.

regards

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

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Boating at Buffels Bay

We spent a sunny day at Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, facilitating some boat dives to Batsata Maze and an unnamed reef to the south of Smitswinkel Bay for Old Mutual Sub Aqua Club (OMSAC). We met a whale on one of the dives – he was fascinated by the divers’ orange SMB that they were using while safety stopping, and circled back repeatedly to have a look. It also took quite a bit of doing (in the form of multiple phone calls, emails and an early morning meeting with a ranger) to get permission to drive a boat full of divers and gear through the exclusion zone around Cape Point… But those are other stories.

Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay
Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay

The slipway at Buffels Bay is a civilised place, with no jockeying for position or aggressive fishermen. It is in a very rocky part of the bay, however, and at low tide it’s a tricky proposition to avoid clipping your motors on the bottom. On approaching the slipway, I asked the divers to hop off the boat into the water, and we moved slowly towards the shore. The water was slightly deeper than some of them were expecting!

After bringing the divemobile down and putting the trailer into the water, we manoeuvered the boat onto the trailer and winched and pushed it on. It was too shallow to drive the boat on, as I would usually. This is a hyperlapse video so it’s joyfully speeded up to make me look like Superman.

Newsletter: Paws for thought

Hi divers

Weekend diving

Saturday: No diving planned – why not join the coastal cleanup at Hout Bay harbour?

Sunday: 10.30 am and 1.00 pm to North/South Paw and Justin’s Caves, from Oceana Powerboat Club (very much dependent on wind strength on Saturday)

Monday: Seal rock at Partridge PointShark Alley, double tank dive launching at 10.00 am from Simon’s Town jetty

Recent dives

Last weekend we took the boat down to Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve to join OMSAC for a day of snorkeling, diving and braai-ing.. The conditions were terrific and both the shore divers and those on the boat had great viz. We took the boat to Batsata Maze and to an unnamed site just on the outside of the exclusion zone around the reserve. We were very fortunate to have a whale cruising by during the safety stop, fascinated by the divers’ SMB, and then hanging around as the divers surfaced.  It is a stunning setting for a day out and even the tidal pool was filled with interesting creatures.

There are some photos on facebook, and a nifty little time lapse video of us putting the boat onto the trailer at the slipway. I usually wind the winch much faster than in the video, though – I must have been having an off day on Saturday…

Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay
Waiting to put the boat on the trailer at Buffels Bay

On Monday we enjoyed fantastic visibility at Partridge Point, where we snorkeled with seals, and at Shark Alley. There are still a lot of cowsharks around – the time of year when they usually disappear is approaching, so we are watching with interest.

This weekend

A southerly swell rolls into False Bay in time for the weekend. The Kalk Bay Shootout surf competition participants are all excited. When surfers are excited, divers are not. We share the ocean… Just not always at the same time. There is also the False Bay Yacht Club spring regatta taking place on Saturday and Sunday – more info here.

I doubt there will be anywhere pleasant to dive in False Bay. The south easter only starts blowing on Saturday so I doubt that the viz out of Hout Bay will improve enough for good diving. That leaves the Atlantic seaboard. Twenty four hours of strong south easter might clean the water close inshore enough for good diving.

I reckon the best options will be North and South Paw or Justin’s Caves and surroundings, so that’s the plan for Sunday. If the south easter makes it over the top of Table Mountain, and cleans the water sufficiently, we will launching from OPBC at 10.30 am and 1.00 pm. If you’re keen to dive let me know and I’ll contact you on Saturday afternoon to let you know if conditions are good enough.

Early morning at Cape Point Nature Reserve
Early morning at Cape Point Nature Reserve

If you are at a loose end on Saturday, an excellent way to spend your time is at the coastal cleanup dive in Hout Bay harbour. We attended a few years ago, and it is great fun and good for the environment. Just wear a kilogram or two extra of weight if your weighting is usually marginal – the water is not very deep!

Cape Town International Boat Show

In three weeks’ time the CTICC comes alive with the Cape Town International Boat Show. This year there will be a new addition in the form of a “dive village”. Collectively a bunch of local dive centres and operators have come together to make this happen with the goal of showcasing the incredible diversity of diving we have to offer in Cape Town. The village will have a pool in the centre and we will offer non-divers an opportunity to breathe underwater and hopefully come to enjoy the ocean as much as we all do.

The show is on from 10-12 October at the Convention Centre. Come down and visit the representatives of your local dive operator and bring a friend who needs convincing that diving is the best thing ever, and amongst everyone in the dive village we will do our best to get them in the water. SURG will also be there showcasing some of the best photos taken in and around Cape Town’s waters. There are also bound to be a bunch of interesting course options, gear sales, camera displays and the like. Plus the rest of the boat show, which is well worth a look!

regards

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

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Newsletter: Staying out of trouble

Hi divers

Weekend diving

No diving this weekend!

Conditions forecast

The conditions forecast for this weekend is not very different from the weather we had last weekend and as the weather experts say,we are in a seven day cycle. This has been very evident as we have had some really stunning midweek diving days with great conditions and good visibility. My guess is that Saturday will be lousy and although the weather clears on Sunday, it does so in the late afternoon only. Not to mention there are a few drastic swell direction changes starting tomorrow… So I reckon its a stay home weekend.

Sunrise over Sun Valley
Sunrise over Sun Valley

Things to do

There are a lot of things to keep you out of trouble if you aren’t diving:

regards

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

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Get involved with the SeaKeys project

SeaKeys launch
SeaKeys launch

Last week we attended the launch of SeaKeys, a massive collaboration between a wide range of organisations (including DAFF, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and SURG, the Southern Underwater Research Group that has spawned such classics as A Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula, Nudibranchs of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, and Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay). I digress. SeaKeys is designed to increase and collect together information about the marine biodiversity of South Africa. There’s a lot of information out there, but it isn’t centralised and the people who are making discoveries (such as South African dive operator Peter Timm at Triton Dive Lodge in Sodwana!) haven’t all been plugged into  the same network.

This is a citizen science project in the best sense. Four web-based atlases, each focusing on a particular type of marine life, are being established, with contributions from researchers, students, and people like you and me – mostly recreational divers, who get to see firsthand what lives underwater. The four atlases are:

The primary platforms on which these observations will be collected are iSpot (we reported our Western leopard toads there when we moved to the South Peninsula in 2012), SAJellyWatch, and EchinoMap.

There is also a section of the database for historical photographs of fishing activities prior to 1970. This will assist in establishing a baseline from which changes (that we have wrought, mostly) in the abundance and distribution of fish species can be measured. This part of the project is called FisHistory, and even if you don’t have any old photos of your dad holding a two metre long tuna and wearing a mullet and satin hotpants, you can still take a look at the contributions from others.

Starting the conversation in the Whale Well
Starting the conversation in the Whale Well

As was pointed out several times during the evening, the aim of the initiative is to “start a conversation” between the widely disparate users of our oceans in order to get a better picture of what’s down there, how it is threatened, and how it is changing. It’s really exciting that recreational divers can assist with this project, and make ourselves useful.

I am excited to see that iSpot is already buzzing with activity from OMSAC members! iSpot is probably the best place for you to get going, submitting your underwater photos of marine life. You need to provide the location at which the photo was taken (which can be hidden if it’s your super secret reef with a super secret waypoint), and take a stab at identifying the creature – but you don’t have to know what it is. If you don’t know what your creature is, other users of the system will help with identification. If you’re not into photography but are interested in species identification, you can also contribute by identifying other users’ contributions. For more about how iSpot works, visit their help pages.

Are you keen to do more citizen science in Cape Town? Check out Spot the Sevengill Cowshark on facebook.