The Greatest Shoal on Earth
The greatest shoal on earth is an accurate description of the huge shoal of sardines that leaves the West Coast of Africa to follow a cold ocean current that flows up the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, during the winter months of the year.
Billions of the small silver fish follow the narrow cold water ocean current, which is rich in plankton, as it flows up the South Coast of KwaZulu, to set the stage for one of the most incredible marine spectacles ever seen in the world. It is an absolutely amazing sight, and whether you're a passionate reader of natural history texts or you prefer to jouer au poker, it will take your breath away.
Following the huge shoal of sardines in this amazing ocean extravaganza is over 50,000 common and bottlenose dolphins, thousands of sharks, shoals of different species of game fish, seals and tens of thousands of sea birds all competing for nature’s bounty in the warm Indian ocean off the coast of South Africa.
In an amazing spectacle of combined hunting skills copper sharks and dolphins team up by herding sections of the shoal closer to the surface, making it easier for seabirds to plunge in and take their share.
Also forming part of the commotion in the ocean are hundreds of humpback whales who salute the ocean extravaganza by lifting their large tails as they move up the coast during their winter migration.
THE GREATEST DIVING ON EARTH
…a Fishtank from Heaven!
Submerge and slide into a surreal indigo blue landscape for a magical & mysterious adventure. Discover the feeling of weightlessness and the exhilaration of breathing underwater. Discover serenity, freedom, excitement, beauty and nature as you witness various silhouettes against the blue rays of the sun. Get mesmerised by a rainbow of patterns & exquisite markings on glistening bodies of all shapes and sizes. Then suddenly experience the ultimate adrenaline rush as an eerie grey shape materialises from the limitless blue to contribute to an unforgettable diving experience.
South Africa's South Coast hosts some of the best scuba diving sites to be found. Generally autumn & winter provides the best conditions for a dive expedition as calm seas and excellent visibility truly portrays the magnitude of this whimsical wonderland. Ranked amongst the top shark & gamefish dives in the world Protea Banks is most certainly not short of excitement and a definite must. Situated 7.5km straight out to sea from Shelly Beach these sites incorporate a range of caves, pinnacles, ridges and amphitheatres. The reef lies between 27m and 40m, and is approximately 6km long and 800 meters in width. It has been a favourite dive spot since 1991 when it was first recognised as a prime dive site. Exploring the southern & northern reef will bring you into contact with Tiger Sharks, Guitar Sharks, Bull Sharks and Hammerheads. Enormous shoals of hundreds of Raggies appear between June and November.
Other species that are often sighted are the Copper Shark, Mako and oceanic reef sharks. For those who are not all to enthusiastic about sharks will not be disappointed as the spectacle of huge shoals of King Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna and Barracuda will enchant you. A magnificent wide variety of coral ledges play home to the occasional turtle as well as to numerous colourful residents, while Potato Bass, Giant Manta Rays, Sting Rays and Marble Rays lurk around playing hide and seek, surveying the scene. Bo Boyi Reef is a 5 minute boat ride off Shelly Beach and has plenty of caves and overhanging features boasting a variety of soft corals and is perfect for open water divers.
Game fish often frequent this reef while a number of juvenile tropical fish adds to the splendour. It is also home to the Brindle Bass. Deep Salmon Reef, approximately 2km off Shelly Beach, is a large reef with a 6m-wall drop, which makes it one of the best reef dives around. There are huge coral trees and an abundance of tropical fish and invertebras including the rare Tiger Angel and a number of wrasse species. Other sites in the surrounds of Protea Reef are Arena Reef where even great whites has been identified, Adda Reef, Potato Reef and the captivating Caves.
Further north towards Durban the Aliwal Shoal, approximately 5km offshore from Umkomaas, are one of the most well known sites on the KwaZulu Natal coastline. The main attraction being Ragged Tooth Sharks, the best area to spot them is at the Cathedral, which is a 4m arch of rock. This is a spectacular hole in the reef and is home to many large stingrays and moray eels. Great care should be taken not to create undue disturbances. A diverse range of marine life and similar topography to Protea Banks can be found at this site. Various other sites to explore are Lionfish Hole, Manta Point, North Sands, South Sands, Subway Reef, Hammer Reef, Eel Skin Reef, Raggie Cave and Shark Alley. Cowrie Reef and Deep Launders at Park Rynie will also provide divers with spectacular scenes.
To elevate this extra-ordinary experience divers stand a chance of witnessing a pod of distinguishable dolphins frolicking in harmony. Clearly nothing compares to the freedom & peace of scuba diving.
Put this rejuvenating adventure to the test and dive the big blue, with various reputable operators in the area.