Dive Africa Direct Newsletter 1 of 2011
Contribution by Pisces Divers
Its been a glorious week of diving this week with flat calm Atlantic seas and endless visibility. Last weekend we managed to get our six launches out over the two days, but the wind did pick up on Sunday afternoon leading to some bumpy rides and a tired, sunburned skipper. We launched on Tuesday and Wednesday in excellent conditions and we will be on the water again tomorrow.
The forecast for the weekend is a strong SE day on Saturday and a calmer day on Sunday. There is quite a bit of swell about, but its out of the SE/SSE and should not be too much of a factor for the Hout Bay launches. Friday will be better than both weekend days, though, which is par for the course for those only able to dive on the weekends!
Contribution by Triton Dive Charters and Bushlodge
South Africa’s coral reefs stretch for approximately 150 km along the northern KZN coast from north of Cape Vidal to the Mozambique border. The reefs are separated into 3 groups termed the northern, central and southern complex and are situated in the Maputaland Marine Reserve and St Lucia Marine Reserve. Combined these two marine parks form part of the iSimangoliso
Park, which was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999. Although all of the coral reefs lie within marine protected areas (MPA) they do not have the same levels of protection i.e certain reefs are located within sanctuaries while others are designated multiple-use zones.
Why are MPAs necessary?
Unless managed sustainably, the uses and users of marine ecosystems can threaten, change and destroy the very processes and resources that they depend on.
Marine protected areas help protect important habitats and representative samples of marine life and can assist in restoring the productivity of the oceans and avoid further degradation. They are also sites for scientific study and can generate income through tourism and sustainable fishing. MPAs provide a range of benefits for fisheries, local economies and the marine environment.
South Africa is very fortunate that all of its coral reefs are situated within MPAs. However, there has been limited research conducted on the affects of human activities in the different MPA zones. Do these activities influence the fish communities and if so, to what extent?
Contribution by Blue Vision Dive Centre
Blue Vision Dive Centre has just added two new websites to their arsenal:
www.SharkDivePro.com & www.SardineRunPro.com.
Visit these great sites for dive trips and information on Tiger Shark Diving, Baited Shark Diving, diving on the reef with Raggedtooth Sharks and information on the amazing South African Sardine Run.
Contribution by Marine Dynamics
Whale shark stranding 2010 - 12 - 22
Our stranding team was called into action last week, but for a particularly unique animal. Was it a whale? Was it a shark? Both! A 6.0-6.5 meter male whale shark washed ashore near Pearly Beach. Whale sharks do not normally occur in these waters because they prefer warm tropical waters that you would find near Mozambique and Madagascar, not the frigid waters of Gansbaai!
Even though they have impressive jaws, their mouths are full of barely visible teeth. Whale sharks feed on plankton – hence the name “whale” shark - and are not dangerous to humans (only krill!). We cannot say for certain how the shark ended up in our waters, but it could have something to do with the algae blooms we have been seeing the past week. Potentially, the shark may have been following these blooms into our area and got caught in the colder waters. Once there, it was only a matter of time before the shark was cooled below it's tolerance and wave action brought him to shore.
The shark showed many signs of life despite it's physical appearance and wounds from being on the rough sand. Our team got the whale shark back into the water with the help of many locals and volunteers and two Landrovers. Once in the water, the whale shark maintained it's orientation in the swells and seemed to show signs of improvement. We assembled our research vessel Lwazi and (with much difficulty in the breakers of Pearly Beach) attached the whale shark with ropes to Lwazi. They took the shark into deeper water and once there, the shark dove to the bottom. There have been no signs of the shark since. If only we had the resources available to place a satellite tag on the animal to track its movements and see what happens below the seas!
Thanks very much to [whoever] for informing us about the stranding! We appreciate your help and your vigilance!