Published: June 12th 2010June 8th 2010
"This diving is not for everyone". These are the words used today by the divemaster in charge. I first planed to do a single blog entry about the South of Durban...till I found out that Shelly Beach is actually 80km south of Umkomaas...not really next door. I agree, I could have done my homeworks better before coming here.
Shelly beach is a lot less geared to divers and more to holidaymakers. I stay at the Tropical Beach B&B...an amazing place, an amazing host, Jackie has done a wonderful work of this lovely place with great service, at a very reasonnable price, a true jewel to recommend. Jackie recommended me a great restaurant on the beach for diner, where I enjoyed some nice wine and lovely seafood.
Early morning wake up again, starting by a nice cooked breakfast by the swimming pool. I arrive to the launching point. Here you get geared on the parking lot. Roland, the guy in charge explained to me that today there would be only one dive. The reason is simple, I was the only paying customer. Not much choice for me, these guys are the only dive operator in town, and the last dive
they did was three days ago. So on for one dive, with 4 divemasters who knew pretty well what they are doing.
First challenge is to put the speed boat in the water....tricky with the waves, but I was there only to look. One of the guys even walked barefoot on an electric ray...not a great idea! So before getting to the nice and flat sea, you need to go through the surf waves...interesting, and everyody is gearied with a life jacket for the operation.
After this, Protea Banks is 8km out at sea...next land available in front of us...Antarctica! We saw on humpback whale on the way, but this time my camera was not ready...but a very nice tail from the whale!
Protea Banks is a long bank...not much corals, well, no corals, nor any little macro life to enjoy either. You come here for the sharks. We had a choice between North Protea Banks, and South Protea Banks....on the South, you can see easily up to 100 raggied tooth sharks at the same time. Or, there is the North site, and for the moment you still have what they call the "summer sharks" ...and on
we were to the North site.
Today, on the menu, 7 Zambezi sharks, 6 Oceanic Black tip and 3 Sandsharks, plus remoras and a nice potato brass. Ok, a little translation...Zambazi sharks are bull sharks...big and fat, these guys are not specially the most friendly...we saw them mainly around the 25 to 35 meters. Sandsharks are guitar sharks....the one we saw were lying on the sand bank...logic you are going to tell me...staying around the 35-40 meters....but we were already 15 minutes in our dive, gliding at 28 meters. The Potato Brass is actually a grouper...big one, curious and playful one...when there are not sharks around, he is great fun. Last, the Oceanic Black tip shark, the Ferrari of down there. These three sharks where all a first for me, but the Black Tip is the most impressive one. At 3 to 4 meters long, they are way bigger, way more impressive than their cousine the common Black Tip.
We did encounter the Oceanic Black tip while gliding in the drift at around 15 meters. No reef here, and the bottom of the ocean is at around 45 meters...no fishes either around us...and no baiting to attract the
sharks. So what do 6 Oceanic Black Tip and 3 Zambezi Sharks are doing around us for a good 15 minutes....well, they are checking on us...and the Black Tip...love to check the divers pretty close. Where it becomes very interesting is the way they do it. They start to go around you and below you, maybe 5 to 10 meters below, doing circles around us, one of them suddenly decides to go up...you know, like if I was a nice seal breakfast...and at that point, they do come from below, and pretty close to us, avoiding us at the last moment. Did you know the pattern of attack of most sharks....they come from below and attack you from below...so yes, a little of adrenaline rush. I did dive with 100++ hammerhead sharks in Galapagos back in February 2008...there were also seriously close to us...but we were holding to the rocks on the reef, letting the sharks cruising by us. Here the story is different...there is nothing else than us, middle of the big blue...we don't come to see the sharks, they come to see us.
So Protea Banks...Wow...I'll be back for sure...because here you can see also the hammerhead,
the raggied tooth, and even the tiger sharks...
After my dive, I went to play golf. Wanted to play either SouthBroom or San Lameer, but both courses where closed for local competitions...so I made my way to Margate Golf Club, nice local course. This was followed by hunt from some proper wine to bring back at home. This is not Joburg, you find wines are record low prices, but it is way more difficult to find premium wines...seems the market simply doesn't exist for this here. Found some nice wine, and got ready for a nice diner and early in bed.
On Wednesday, woke up at 5am to pick up my flight from Durban to Joburg, follow by a flight to Hong Kong. All morning working in HK...rainy, dark, depressing HK, but I finally made my way back to Bangkok to reunite with my little family.
No more big travels for 3 weeks, but the school holidays are coming soon, and with it a very serious 2 months on the road...I can't wait!
Next entry is from another continent, but till our next little trip...enjoy, because we do!
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