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TEN COOL THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

TEN COOL THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

 
     
Jun 2012

Text by Murray Jackson

Often overlooked in favour of famous terrestrial landmarks, Cape Town’s underwater Eden deserves more recognition as a top international dive destination. The fertile waters support an astonishing array of marine life, pristine reefs await discovery, and hundreds of wrecks litter the coastline ready to be discovered and explored. With this spirit of adventure Murray Jackson asked some regular Cape divers to give us their list of cool things to do underwater around Cape Town.

No.1: Dive with pelagics in the deep

It’s a different world when you move away from the shoreline and into the deep blue. This is the realm of the pelagics, the big tuna and yellowtail, whales and dolphins, and the pelagic sharks. A special treat are the blue and mako sharks that can be found off the Cape shores, and a good day can result in multiple sightings of these beautiful and engaging animals.

Pic: Jean Tresfon

No. 2: Snorkel with a sunfish

This is not something you can plan, which makes a chance encounter with a sunfish all the more special. Also called Mola mola, these awkward looking creatures can sometimes be found basking on the surface as they warm themselves after long, cold forages down to 200 metres or more. If approached carefully they will allow snorkelers to get quite close and enjoy an encounter that will long be remembered.

Pic: Morne Hardenberg

No. 3: Dive with the seals

Nothing is quite as cheeky and exuberant as an inquisitive seal. Think aquatic puppy-dog on steroids that can move in three dimensions. Fast and agile, they zoom around you throughout the dive, sometimes swimming close up and peering, as if asking you to come and play. You’d never keep up, so just sit back and enjoy the show.

Pic: Jean Tresfon

No. 4: Discover a new dive site

How hard can it be? I’ve discovered dozens of new sites, although always as a result of getting lost, and my new sites end up with names like ‘boring patch of sand no.3’. Fortunately however there are real explorers out there who are finding some very cool new sites. A recent discovery is Atlantis, a colourful and vibrant reef in False Bay that was discovered by Steve Benjamin from Animal Ocean.

Pic: Jean Tresfon

No. 5: Nudibranch hunting

Flamboyant and strikingly colourful, nudibranchs are a common sight on Cape dives and are sought after subjects for photographers. There’s more to them than their looks however, and they’re broken up into numerous species, each with fascinating biology and chemical defence systems. So challenge yourself to find out more about these creatures and learn how to identify the different species, then grab a camera and go nudibranch hunting.

Pic: Geoff Spiby

No. 6: Hunker down with the tiny critters

Cape waters are home to an astonishing variety of small critters and delicate marine organisms, and it’s extremely rewarding to spend time looking for them. On this page is a candy nudibranch; on the right, an orange-eyed nudibranch interacts with a sea spider – note the egg bundles being carried by the sea spider.

Pic: Geoff Spiby

No. 7: Lose the scuba tank and freedive

Liberate yourself from the tank and all your equipment. You’ll never feel closer to the sea than when it’s just you, a pair of fins and a lungful of air burning in your chest. Freediving takes you on a spiritual as well as a physical journey into the silence of the ocean, and animal interactions just seem more real and personal than when you take air down with you.

Pic: Jean Tresfon

No. 8: Dive a classic – Justin’s Caves

One of the classic Cape Town dive sites, Justin’s Caves has magnificent caverns and swim-throughs, colourful soft corals, kelp beds and plenty of sea life. It’s a shore dive which means you can squeeze it in after work on a long summer evening, and when the southeaster blows, the water can be blue and crystal clear.

Pic: Geoff Spiby

No. 9: Dive (naked!) in the Cederberg rock pools

Head to the mountains for some diving in crystal-clear mountain streams. Not only is it a great weekend away, but you’ll get to see and photograph a whole new set of freshwater fish and critters. The diving naked part is optional, but why not give it a try?

Pic: Jean Tresfon

No.10: Snorkel with stingrays at Millers Point

Short-tail stingrays are common around Millers Point slipway (a popular Simonstown launch site) where they wait for the returning fishing boats to gut their catch. They can also be found in the sand at Long Beach, and it’s a real treat to dive or snorkel with them. The short-tail stingray, Dasyatis brevicaudata, is the second-largest known stingray, and can reach a size of 2.1 metres.

Pic: Morne Hardenberg

 

Source: The Dive Site

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