DiveCareDare

DiveCareDare

Tony Isaacson - Diving Naturalist. As a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, AWARE shark conservation specialist and adventurer, I have dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet. I have been scuba diving since 1970 and have logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world. I’ve documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Tahiti and the Galapagos Islands. In 2013, I inspired Navy Clearance Diver and bull shark bite survivor, Paul de Gelder and a 60 Minutes film crew to dive with bull sharks at the Ultimate Shark Encounter in Fiji. I was a consultant on the making of documentaries on Leafy Seadragons (for Channel 9), The Great Barrier Reef (with Richard Fitzpatrick for the BBC) and filmed underwater footage in Indonesia and off the Queensland and New South Wales coasts for TRAVELTHERENEXT TV. In July 2014, I headed to South Africa for the Sardine Run and dived with the great white sharks from Durban to Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a great advocate for sharks, sustainability and ecotourism, and I regularly volunteer for Reef Check and Grey Nurse Shark Watch in Australia.

View Full Profile →

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 15 other subscribers

Slideshow
Slideshow

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES | COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

Diving Videos

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.

Louis and his ‘eye in the sky’ spotter ultra light plane

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.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Whale breaching

Just as a point of difference, in South Africa the safety of the animals and divers is at the discretion of the skipper of a boat. It is not the same as back home in Queensland where boats have to stop their engines 100m from a whale or groups of whales. Here you can approach as close as you feel is safe for all concerned and not to distress the whales. Thus our technique was to follow the whales and after a while when we thought they may be used to our engines, the boat and us, we would then speed ahead of them and drop in the water if they looked like they were about to engage us.  Some times the whales changed direction and moved away from us, at other times they would dive deeper and disappear into the deep blue yonder.

Today something was different and we were surprised with the most amazing encounters and personal interactions with whales that we could EVER have imagined.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Up close and personal

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Even more up close and personal

On a few occasions a whale or in particular a certain group of three engaged us.  This time for whatever reason they seemed to want to play, and play they did.  They acknowledged us, came over to us, eyeballed us and hung around for what seemed an age but was probably only about 5 or 10 mins, which was truly unbelievable.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Whale and dolphin together

Scuba gear was too cumbersome and problematic to use, so we all just dropped into the water to snorkel as close to the whales as possible. We were rewarded with them diving around us, surfacing and diving again, only to come back up somewhere else close to us. It was truly amazing.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Two whales intertwining together playfully

One came so close I could have touched it on multiple occasions.  We swam alongside them, one snorkeler so close to a pectoral fin, the whale could easily have flipped him up in the air if it had wanted to.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Mo snorkeling along with two whales

Then as quick as they had come to us, with one flick of a tail they had moved far faster than we snorkelers could keep up and they were gone.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Very close encounter

Oh my god, we were all exhilarated and euphoric. How amazing was that. Our grins went from ear to ear. It took a long time back at the hotel to come down from our high. Even though we still hadn’t seen a sardine, it didn’t seem to matter anymore. We had been blessed with an experience beyond that. Looking eye to eye with one of the largest mammals on the earth is truly AWESOME and life affecting, something we will NEVER forget.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Yee hah!

Check out a great video in our post: Whale Song From Africa

DCD would like to acknowledge one of our group of divers Sebastiao Carmo for some of these photos.

PS. More photos to come…

Related posts:

Comment

Diving Videos

One Response to SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES | COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

  • Diving Videos

    Maggie says:

    What an awesome trip you guys are having, cant wait to see your photos Tony, hurry up and get them out there, please

HOT VIDEO PIX:

SEPTEMBER 2015 HOT VID PIX: Banded Sea Snake Eats Moray Eel - a fight to the death. Watch what happens at the 3.20 mark... AUGUST 2015 HOT VID PIX: Tears of a Mermaid - On Location: "Tigress" Tiger Shark Shoot Documentary, a Mctrax Motion Production With Jim Abernethy in the Bahamas. MAY 2015 HOT VID PIX: The Insatiable Hairy Frogfish - watch this fascinatingly 'fugly' creature catch and eat its prey. MARCH 2015 HOT VID PIX: Woman romances large eel! Meet Valerie Taylor and her unusual friendship with a large moray eel... FEB 2015 HOT VID PIX: Divers off Costa Rica come across a giant manta ray tangled in fishing line. Watch how it allowed them to free it. What a life changing experience... DECEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Flamboyant Deadly Cuttlefish - a short from Underwater Studios of Malaysia - taken on Kapalai island Sabah. Simply Stunning! NOVEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Glow In The Dark Shark Attack! : Yet another goodie from BioPixels. We have never seen anything like this before, simply creepy but stunning! (Love that Red Epic slow mo camera guys - keep up the good work!) OCTOBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Milking A Stone Fish: You heard it here! Dr Jamie Seymour from James Cook University talks about how to milk a stone fish, something I am sure we all need to know, ponder on and share, but never to personally try it at home. Love your work Jamie! SEPTEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Ultimate Alien-like Spear Mantis Feeding On Fish In Slow Motion: Dr Jamie Seymour from James Cook University and Emmy Award winning cameraman Richard Fitzpatrick film club and spear mantis shrimps at 1500 frames per second. These guys just have too much fun 'at work'! AUGUST 2014 HOT VID PIX: Great White 4.5M Shark Bites Dive Rubber Ducky whilst filming on an Adventure Tour for the Sardine Run near Mossel Bay, South Africa. Thank you Riener for a fabulous interview on this most unusual behaviour of a great white. JUNE 2014 HOT VID PIX: Helping Out A Yellow Moray Eel - Gold Coast Seaway: Thanks to Dave Wyatt for this fabulous video of your helping out a poor helpless moray caught up in fishing wire as well as three hooks in its mouth. Good job Dave!

Slideshow

divecaredare divecaredare divecaredare divecaredare