It was great to see so many familiar faces this month as we had lots of families visiting during the holidays, making the most of the end of summer - soaking up the sun, playing on the beach and enjoying some of the best diving conditions of the whole year.
April and May are some of the best months of the year to dive in our area because the weather is usually good and tends to be the most predictable during this period. Light winds, sunny days and warm evenings are the norm. Sea conditions are great with water temperature ranging from 25-27 degrees Celsius and visibility averaging around 15 - 20 meters.
The Ruberg family and friends the Buschbergers had dived with us previously and were excited to be back for some more diving – during this trip Chris Ruberg would be completing his 100th dive! What a dive it turned out to be! We went to Pineapple Reef, the sea was flat, water temperature was 26 degrees Celsius and visibility was 18-20 meters. As we descended we saw a big honeycomb stingray on the sand; a very special Djibouti Giant (type of sea slug or nudibranch which is similar to a Spanish dancer) which was about 30cm in length; two scribbled pipefish; a tiny mantis shrimp; three potato bass swimming from diver to diver; a huge school of slinger swimming in formation across the sand, making wonderful patterns in the water; a 1.5 meter long leopard shark and then a remora at the safety stop to end off an incredible dive.
We all know safety stops are important to do, not only for safety but also because sometimes great sightings occur at safety stops. This month we have had some interesting ones - devil rays gliding past; a remora that followed divers all the way up to the safety stop and then swam around them the whole time, going from diver to diver, looking for someone willing to offer it a ride. To top it off, Mich and Dirk had the best sighting when they spotted a tiger shark swimming below them! It was a 4m long shark and it swam slowly along the bottom, right under them and then disappeared into the distance. They were the last two divers completing their safety stop and were really glad they were still in the water or they would have missed the special shark sighting altogether.
We did a couple of shark dives this month with commercial photographers and had some great sightings of tiger sharks, silvertips, scalloped hammerheads, Zambezi, blacktips and grey reef sharks. These dives are best done during summer months as shark sightings are more frequent, the most productive months being from December through to April.
A special wish came true for Kim Browne. She wished that she could snorkel with bottlenose dolphins on her birthday and sure enough, as we were travelling back from a dive at Gogo’s, there they were! Everyone got in the water and the dolphins swam around them for ages. This was also a very exciting trip for Sipho, one of our staff members, as it was his first time to snorkel with dolphins and he loved it!
The bottlenose dolphins also delighted guests during Ocean Experience trips this month and some guests were lucky enough to watch as three humpback dolphins played in the waves. Other sightings during Ocean Experience trips included a spotted eagle ray, a talang queenfish, hawksbill turtles, green turtles, two huge honeycomb stingrays relaxing on the sand, grey reef sharks and potato bass. Schools of spadefish were seen in a few areas. They are interesting to watch as they can be seen on the surface feeding on various types of plankton, including some stinging critters like bluebottles.
Honeycomb moray eels were out and about this month, swimming around or just relaxing in a hole. One followed us around for most of the dive at Yellowfin Drop, almost swimming into divers who were unaware that he was still following them. We also had an interesting show when a redfang triggerfish tried to attack a honeycomb moray eel as it swam past its territory! A dive at Pineapple saw a big honeycomb eel swim out of its hole, across to a sponge where a redbarred rockcod was sitting, nudged the rockcod off the sponge, had a sniff around the area and then deciding that there was nothing of interest there, headed back to its own hole.
Other special sightings this month included a huge manta ray, with a wingspan of about 4m across; juvenile oriental sweet lips; regal angelfish; juvenile devil fire fish; two juvenile octopus that were only about 2cm big; eight juvenile batfish, all hiding underneath a log that was floating out to sea. Darryl had a rare sighting of a Northern Giant Petrel. It landed near the boat and then paddled across to the buoy, gave it a few good pecks and then flew away.
An odd sighting for this time of year was that of some humpback whales. We usually note the first sightings of these whales in our area in June and the earliest we have seen them before has been in May. This year seems as if winter may be arriving a bit earlier as we had a few sightings of these humpback whales on the 25th of March and again on the 26th of April.
We can’t wait to see if there will be more sightings in May or if we will have to wait until June for proper winter conditions to set in and call the whales up into our waters.
Congratulations go to the following divers:
For completing his 100th dive!
Kayla & Justin Prowse, Tobias, William & Araminta Stubbs, Cameron & Lochlan Butler,
Andrew Ray, John Rosmarin, Lisa & Madison Crews, Victor Dos Reis
For completing their Discover Scuba Diving Courses
Sheri & Dain Friis, Karolien Grosemans, Gloria & Erik Keustermans, Rebecca & George Kay, Miles Jackson, Wesley Van der Wel Holly Crews, Shane Dos Reis
For completing their Discover Scuba Pool Session
Grace Oliphant, Jake Jackson, Gabriella Potgieter,
For completing their Bubblemaker courses
For completing her Advanced Open Water course
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle, Samantha, Mandla and Sipho
The Rocktail Dive Team