Dive the Oceans
This is a short clip of some beautiful footage I managed to capture whilst in South Australia.
The visibility on the dive at Rapid Bay wasn’t the best on the day but watching the footage, it doesn’t really seem to show on the video. Continue reading
Whilst on a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, we arrived at Cozumel Island. The one and only advertised dive from our cruise ship described a deep water experience including a drift dive along a large wall. However on the day, the local currents were far stronger than they had known in recent times, so our dive plan changed at the last minute.
We ended up doing relative shallow dives close to shore to avoid the danger of those large currents. Even so, we still had a 3-4 knot current and had I have wanted to stop and look at something of macro photographic interest, it would have to have been in the lee of a bombie or in a sea floor depression.
DIVE THE CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS OF THE CARIBBEAN AT GRAND CAYMAN
On a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, I had an opportunity for a two tank scuba dive with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman in West Bay, Grand Cayman. So I took this chance to experience the crystal clear Caribbean waters but unfortunately there were unexpected very strong currents, the worst they had in the last three years.
So we dived Wall Street, a relatively protected site covered by the remaining fragments of a severely damaged wreck. Many were colonised by soft quite colourful corals, gorgon fans, fish and other typical Caribbean marine life. We also encountered a field of very tall garden eels, a curious sight not often seen.
My dive guide was also a great source of amusement. He tolerated my prolonged photographic stops by amusing himself with a wreck of a bicycle, and what a camera ham he proved to be, attempting to ride it whilst wearing his long free diving fins!
SNORKELLING WITH ‘SINGING’ WHALES
Whilst on our recent trip to South Africa hoping to dive on the Sardine Run, we were given a bonus encounter of these amazing leviathans of the sea. Whilst looking for the sardine bait balls in the waters at Coffee Bay, three humpback whales including a mother and her baby cruised by. There was no time to don scuba equipment, so with only snorkels and masks we all got in the water to take a closer look.
They were truly amazing and the sound they were making took us all aback. It was nothing like the high pitched whale song we had heard before, such a deep gutteral almost painful straining sound. WIERD!
This was a truly memorable moment, especially when at one point when they came up from the deep so close to one of our group that he had to try to push himself away from the side of the huge animal. AMAZING!
Thanks to Roland Mauz and his team from African Dive Adventures who gave us this incredible encounter.
What do you think of their whale ‘song’? Have you ever hard anything like this before?
For more, see our recent post Snorkelling with Humpback Whales at Coffee Bay, South Africa.
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[Video Footage by Tony Isaacson. Video Production and Editing by Roger Barrett, TraveThereNext.com]
SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES, MOOLOOLABA, QUEENSLAND
It was a beautiful day for snorkelling with humpback whales off the magnificent Sunshine Coast. The sky was azure blue and the ocean was calm as we headed out of the Mooloolah River. We were on board “4 Shore” with a crew of 5 including Dan, son of Phil Hart, owner of Sunreef and the entrepreneur responsible for this Australian first. Whale watchers and snorkelers were a mix of tourists and media personnel – fifteen in total.
We headed east from the river then north when suddenly the skipper shouted “Whales!!” That was the trigger for a military style call to action as Dan deployed the 30 metre safety line out the back of the boat for snorkelers who were already briefed, pumped and reading to slip into the water.
We had been allocated into groups – group 1 was ready in wetsuits, complete with snorkel, mask and fins. Continue reading
SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACKS AT COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA
We were here in Coffee Bay with Roland Mauz and African Dive Adventures for the infamous Sardine Run. We hoped to dive on sardine bait balls with the promise of accompanying dolphins, sharks and diving gannets, but for the first day we saw mainly dolphins and humpback whales, or as Irene my wife had accidentally nicknamed them, ‘wholphins’. The whales were generally travelling quite fast. As in Queensland, Australia they are on a mission to places much further north and they usually don’t want to stop to interact with us in the water. This had certainly been our experience on day one at Coffee Bay. This was day two and we were out yet again in search of the elusive sardine bait balls. The clarity of the water was better and we were all more attuned into kitting up into our wetsuits and snorkelling gear to get into the water more efficiently.
The ‘eye in the sky’ was out spotting for us and indeed the ultra light plane found quite a few pods of dolphins, at times up to a hundred or more in a pod. One of these accompanied and completely surrounded some whales, and at the back of this ‘wholphin’ pod was a group of about seven dusky sharks following all the action. Some whales were having fun with breaches and tail slapping. We also saw diving and ‘rafting’ gannets, but still no sardine.
FLYING THE ‘MOSQUITO’ SPOTTER PLANE FOR THE SARDINE RUN
Big Louis is the man. He lives in Limpopo, the northern most province of South Africa and owns a 2-stroke ultralight spotter plane, aka ‘the mosquito’. He comes down to Coffee Bay with his wife, two teenagers, yorkie and 6 week yorkie x schnauzer puppy purely for the Sardine Run. It is his third or fourth season with Roland and Beulah and they work together as a team. His mission is to be the ‘eye in the sky’ and fly all day up and down the coast around Coffee Bay in search of the sardine action for African Dive Adventure clients.
I had the pleasure of going up with him today to experience the Sardine Run from this different perspective. After a spectacular day yesterday with the best personal encounters of whale action you could ever wish for, I was more than happy to give up my seat in the boat for another kind of action in the air.
Louis kitted me up on the beach outside the Ocean View Hotel with a helmet, microphone and seat belt. I had to make sure both my cameras were securely fastened to my person. Nothing was allowed to be loose or it could fall in the water, worse still hit Louis on the head or fly into the small engine behind me and stall the plane. With that in mind and a little intrepidation, off we went.
DIVING BAIT BALLS ON THE SARDINE RUN IN COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA
The Sardine Run is a very special natural phenomenon. The sheer number of sardines involved results in a feeding frenzy along the coastline of South Africa and in terms of biomass is said to rival East Africa’s great wildebeest migration.
The Sardine Run is where shoals of sardines drift north up the east coast of Africa to KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique from the cold waters of the Cape of South Africa. These shoals can be more than 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep and are very easily spotted by planes or from boats on the surface.
It is usually around May-July and involves billions of sardines. They spawn in the Agulhas Bank, the southern most point of South Africa and then head north along the south east coast of Africa. The run occurs when a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank to Mozambique, where it heads out into the Indian Ocean. The Agulhas current is a warm, more northern current that pushes the cooler Atlantic southern current up against the east coast and hopefully forces the drifting sardines inshore so the run can be witnessed.
The Sardine Run is all about the water temperature. It has to fall below 21 degrees to happen. Sardines need cold water and will not be seen if the water is too warm. The run does not occur every year and in the last 23 years, it has failed on three occasions including 2003 and 2006. This year the weather is quite unseasonal. Today the air temp is 25C, unheard off at this time of the year.
DIVING A BAIT BALL IS ALL ABOUT ETIQUETTE IN THE WATER
The dive and snorkel briefing is all important as this is such an unusual phenomenon, if you do the wrong thing, you will disturb the bait ball action and it all ends for everyone. Then the search has to be repeated to find another bait ball.
Later this week Tony will be joining TravelThereNext to experience his first ever snorkel with these gentle leviathans of the sea, the beautiful graceful and enchanting humpback whales. Sunreef Scuba Dive Adventures of Mooloolaba have kindly invited them to go along with them in their first week of their thrilling new commercial venture.
This is a first for Sunreef and for the region, even ahead of the humpback capital of Hervey Bay, near Fraser Island. Credit to Phil and Dan Hart, owners of Sunreef who have managed to bring this exciting touristic attraction to the Sunshine Coast as no where else in Australia can this be experienced. This is going to be a win win for everyone, Sunreef, coast tourism in general and tourists, both Australian and international.
Our current winter water temperatures are around 17-23 degrees C and visibility can be up to 30m. Currently the forecast for mid week is 0.9m waves and 12 knot winds.
He is seriously looking forward to this opportunity and can’t wait to get in the water to be eye ball to eye ball with one of the largest creatures on the earth. Read his story of the day’s experience in an article soon to be posted on TravelThereNext.com.
Check out my latest Gallery photos from our ‘surface interval’ activities whilst in the Galapagos in 2007.
We enjoyed a week in October that year travelling around a select number of islands including Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Sante Maria on board a small live aboard, the ‘Aida Maria’ out of Puerto Ayora.
We had the opportunity to experience both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ landings in an effort to see the amazingly barren landscape and surrounding seas of these rather remarkable islands.
The water temperatures were cold, about 17-20 degrees C, so diving and snorkelling were limited unless you had a thick wet suit.
But the land based tours were stunning, as was the abundant wild life which was generally completely un-fazed by numbers of tourists wandering through their habitat. Truly a diving naturalist’s dream holiday – we can’t wait to return!