Under the water, up in the sky... so much to see this month!! Ocean experience trips out to sea have produced not only magical whale sightings but some interesting bird sightings as well. Early on in the month Darryl noticed an albatross he hadn’t seen in these parts before – further investigation showed it to be a juvenile black browed albatross. Other albatross species spotted this month included the shy and Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross. We also saw two separate flocks of flamingos. The first flew past us as we were preparing for a dive at Elusive and a few days later we watched another flock fly along the backline whist we enjoyed our picnic breakfast on the beach.
Humpback whale sightings were plentiful this month but it was the sightings of little calves that stole everyone’s hearts.
Ondyne had been diving with Niclas and Lennie Muller and once they were all back on the boat Darryl told them that he had been watching three whales relaxing just behind Island Rock the whole time they were on their dive. Darryl took them to have a look at the whales on their way back towards the beach and after watching the whales for a while he suggested they put their snorkelling gear on and slip into the water to snorkel across to island rock. What a surprise they got - down on the sand about 5-6m below them, were the three whales slowly swimming along!
During another magical whale experience we were extremely lucky to see a calf that was just days old. We stopped the boat just behind Island Rock and whilst everyone was taking their life jackets off Darryl noticed a couple of whales on the surface. It looked as if the whales were sleeping and as we watched we saw two other whales swim across to join them. Then we saw a tiny floppy dorsal fin pop out of the water followed by a little tail! It was the little newborn, still so small that its dorsal fins was flopped over, these fins harden and stand up as they grow. We watched as it swam around with its mother guiding it along, it’s little tail flopping and splashing – it seemed that we were watching the very beginnings of the calf learning to swim. Soon the two whales, that had swum in to join mother and calf, left –it was almost as if they had come over to see the newborn calf! It was so cute to watch and we truly felt humbled to be watching such an amazing sight.
Later on during the month the Pringle family saw a slightly older humpback calf. As we were driving along the calf breached clean out of the water! It breached at least seven or eight times – either just managing to pop its head out, or getting its whole body out of the water. It felt like it was showing off its newly learned breaching skills to us and I’m sure it was having just as much fun jumping as we were having watching it jump!
Other great sightings during ocean experience trips included one whaleshark, two manta rays, spinner dolphins and lots of bottlenose dolphins, as well as not one but FOUR Spanish dancers at Island Rock.
The wonderful sightings didn’t end there; we had some unusual dives this month too. Ondyne took Franz and Sabine Rubroeder to Aerial for a Discover Scuba dive. Half way through the dive she noticed a bit of a commotion near one of the rocks. On closer inspection, the divers were thrilled to see a marbled electric ray with a big spot rock cod in its mouth! The fish was halfway in the ray’s mouth, but try as it might, the marbled electric ray couldn’t swallow this big meal! It spat the rockcod out and within seconds had buried itself in the sand again. The rock cod escaped to live another day! What an incredible thing to see on your first ever sea dive.
There have been lots of ray sightings this month, including honeycomb stingrays, marbled electric rays, diamond butterfly rays and a quite uncommon sighting of a porcupine ray - in fact, Clive & Michelle have only seen this species a handful of times in their 13 years of diving at Rocktail.
Porcupine ray - photograph by Klaus Thieme
The Kristensen family also had some fantastic dives during their holiday – Niels and Michelle spotted a giant kingfish (Caranx ignobilis) during a dive at Elusive. Niels’s children, Issy and Peter, along with their uncle, Shaun, had just completed their Open Water course and were setting out for their first “official” dive as newly qualified divers. We’d just stowed away lifejackets and were driving past Island Rock, when Clive shouted out that he had spotted a whale shark! We all peered into the water and saw the whaleshark with lots of remora swimming around it – there must have been at least 7 or 8 of them. Unfortunately it did not stay at the surface for long so we weren’t able to snorkel with it but as we continued to travel to our dive site Clive found some bottlenose dolphins. With great excitement, everyone scrambled to put their fins on again, and we had a wonderful time snorkelling with the dolphins. Then, once back on the boat, just as we thought we’d really be heading off to dive, Clive saw three humpback whales ahead! We decided to slip into the water again to see whether we might be lucky enough to see the whales in the water. We were as pleased as anything when we caught a glimpse of them as they swam past us - a wonderful sight of mum, calf and one other humpback.
Giant Kingfish - photograph by Neils Kristensen
Taken using his iphone in a newly acquired underwater housing
Not a bad photo for a camera!
Congratulations to the following divers:
Isabella, Peter & Shaun Kristensen
For completing their PADI Open Water course
Franz & Sabine Ruboeder, Leo Schilling, Mailys & Nolwen Flajoliet, Mark & Peter King and
for completing their PADI Discover Scuba Diving course
Andy, Carsten & Finn Russell
for completing the pool session of the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course
for completing his PADI Bubblemaker course
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Ondyne
The Rocktail Dive Team