Written by Alison Kock
Southern Right Whales, Brydes Whales, Seals, Birds, and Thousands of Common Dolphins

This week we once again had the enormous job of retrieving and deploying acoustic receivers used to monitor white shark spatial patterns throughout False Bay for maintenance and to download the season’s data. We had to travel to the four corners of False Bay and on the way we had the pleasure and fortune of seeing incredible numbers of dolphins and other marine creatures.

The diving started on Saturday and didn’t end until Tuesday night, leaving everyone exhausted by the end. We started our diving at Partridge Point and Cape Point and then ran across the bay (35 km) to Cape Hangklip. Hangklip seemed to have a curse on us, as we had trouble locating the equipment and at 32 meters depth we had to head to the shallower waters of Koeel and Gordon’s Bay. The next day we dived at Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, Muizenberg and Strandfontein. At Fish Hoek a very curious Southern Right Whale came to investigate us and even swam under the divers on their way up. They were not too happy about this because the day before, the Shark Spotter at Fish Hoek had observed two white sharks in the area and when you are diving in one meter visibility having a very large grey shape swim under you is not pleasant. However, the divers felt a little safer knowing the Shark Spotter was on the lookout and in radio contact.

The next day we started at Seal Island where the dives went flawlessly, but no sharks were spotted. We then decided to try our luck at Hangklip again, but the swell had come up and after two more dives the receiver was still not found. The last day we went straight back to Hangklip and I am happy to report we recovered the receiver. We presume an anchor had knocked the securing pole over as the divers eventually located it lying flat on the reef. This was the second time it happened in this area and so I decided not to redeploy a receiver here. The last dives were at Pringle Bay and Macassar where the visibility was so bad that the divers couldn’t see their own hands, let alone each other and had to navigate by touch alone. Needless to say there were some strange touchy-feely stories on the boat which made me a little nervous.

Across the bay we encountered huge schools of common dolphins leaping and following us for many kilometers, groups of seals and Brydes whales feeding on sardine and mullet. I often had to be reminded by Morne’ that we had a job to do and that I couldn’t spend hours photographing the dolphins like I wanted to. Overall the diving was a huge success thanks to the incredible team of divers Morne’, Steven, Mark and Shane and Nikki for making sure that the shot line to mark the dive spot was dropped on the GPS mark so that the divers didn’t have to search for very long. A very big thank-you to Pisces Divers for the sponsorship of all the air and cylinders. Thanks guys and gals!
Photographs copyright Alison Kock and Morne’ Hardenberg

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