South Africa

Lockdown Local Diving

Photo by Kate Jonker: Speckled klipfish at Pinnacle dive site in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa

As many divers face travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, our contributors highlight the often overlooked or unsung yet intriguing diving that can be found in one's own backyard.

Sardine Run and the Interaction of Predators

Close to the action, a snorkeller (right) at the surface with a feeding Bryde's whale and hunting dolphins, Sardine Run, South Africa.

This natural spectacle takes place almost every year on the eastern coasts of South Africa and Mozambique—the so-called “Sardine Run.” To this day, the reason why it occurs cannot be precisely defined. There are various scientific theories, but some of them contradict each other.

Diving South Africa’s Sodwana Bay

The name “Sodwana” comes from the Zulu words Siso dwana, which mean “us alone.” History has it that a group of Zulu women were harvesting mussels on a deserted stretch of beach along the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal when a landing party for the British Royal Navy came ashore and asked them who they were and what they were doing there.

Humpback whale migration

Since 2011, scientists in South Africa have observed an unusual event: large groups of humpback whales seen from mid-October to mid-December off the western coast of South Africa, between Cape Town and St. Helena Bay. During this time period, depending on weather and wind conditions, the Benguela Current brings krill, upon which the whales feed, northward from Antarctica.

Sharks of the Protea Banks in South Africa

Divers with bull shark, Protea Banks, South Africa. Photo by Don Silcock.

The Protea Banks enjoys a reputation as one of the best places in South Africa to dive with sharks, and depending on the time of year, you can see up to seven different varieties, including ragged-tooth sharks, oceanic blacktip sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks and three varieties of hammerhead sharks—scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks. Often, these varieties are in large, if not astonishing, numbers.

Diving Gordon's Bay in South Africa

Gordon’s Bay is a sleepy seaside village in South Africa, nestled in the northeastern corner of False Bay, where the majestic Hottentots Holland mountain range dips its toes into the ocean. A quick 50-minute drive from Cape Town, Gordon’s Bay is surrounded by mountains and natural vegetation and the vibrant beauty of the countryside is mirrored beneath the waves.

South Africa: Sardine Run

From a point on the horizon, frantic sounds of gannet birds became louder and their dives from the air seemed to accelerate as they shot straight down, piercing the surface of the sea. Before our party of divers got into the water, I could not imagine the incredible spectacle that would be found under the surface.

South Africa: Sardine Run & Cage Diving

The world in one country is an oft-used quote to describe South Africa and is not unwarranted. Along with dramatic scenery and a rich cultural heritage, it is a nation renowned for its diversity of ecosystems and wildlife.

However, its undersea environs rival the terrestrial abundance. From northern subtropical reefs to the chilly waters of the cape, South Africa offers a wealth of marine life few nations can rival.