2016 TRIP REPORT
FALSE BAY 2016 IN A NUT SHELL:
Seven species of sharks (out of a potential
nine) plus great fur seal encounters and fantastic reef and
kelp forest dives!
SPOTTED GULLY SHARKS AT WHITTLE ROCK
We started our week with a catshark dive at
Whittle Rock; a gorgeous, 70ft deep reef in the middle of
False Bay. While exploring the reef we stumbled upon a
spotted gully shark which is usually one of the most
illusive sharks in False Bay. Spotted gully sharks are
nocturnal predators that hide in caves during the day. This
one was under a a deep ledge so I slipped in beside it for a
quick photo session before it shot out into the open and
raced off to find a quieter spot to rest.
A WALK IN THE FOREST
Taking advantage of the lack of surge, on our
second dive we dropped anchor at Pyramid Rock; a pinnacle
that pokes out of the kelp forest at Miller's Point near
Simonstown. Pyramid is a classic dive filled with catsharks,
kelp and beautiful reef structures. Unlike California's
virtually impenetrable kelp forests, the bamboo kelp in
False Bay is far more open plan, allowing plenty of light to
stream through onto the reef. We found hundreds of
cartilaginous predators on that dive but even without
sharks, this would be amazing place to suck back an air tank
BLUES IN THE DEEP
The next morning the weather gods smiled on
us. Conditions were great for a blue and mako feed so we ran
right out of False Bay into the Southern Atlantic. Two hours
out we started chumming and within a few minutes we had blue
sharks circling the boat. By the time we got in we had an
estimated 25 blue sharks in attendance. No makos showed up
but it was wonderful to see so many healthy blue sharks in
clear blue water. I have done blue shark feeds all over the
world and I have never seen so many sharks as we get South
CAPE FUR SEAL
On the way back to port, we stopped at a
small cape fur seal colony at Partridge Point. African fur
seals love to play and these ones were no exception. They
ran rings around us while we composed image after image of
The next morning we arose before dawn and
motored out to Seal Island - a barren rock that is home to
70,000 cape fur seals.
Just as the sun rose, the seals that were
returning to the island came under attack from the circling
great white sharks. We saw three predations that morning
including a spectacular full breach close to the boat. Sadly
I did not capture the moment on camera so here is a shot of
the island and one of its furry residents.
That afternoon we got word that the weather
was about to change so rather than lose a day, we decided
head to the reef for three inshore dives. First stop was
Atlantis; another deepish reef - by False Bay standards.
Settling onto the substrate at 60ft we began hunting for
catsharks. Four species showed up to be photographed
including striped 'pyjama' sharks, leopard catsharks, dark
shysharks and - my personal favorites - puffadder shysharks
BACK TO THE SEALS
by popular demand, on our second dive we returned to the
seal colony at Partridge Point. The wind was already
starting to build but we were told that the seals spend more
time in the water on windy days so we eagerly dived in. Sure
enough, the water was full of frolicking pinnipeds that
stuck around until - one by one - we returned to the boat to
warm up before dive number three.
SEARCHING FOR COW SHARKS
Anchoring in the middle of the kelp forest,
we did a huge loop around Miller's Point in search of
sevengills - aka cowsharks - but they were nowhere to be
found. A couple of months ago, all of the cowsharks fled
from the Miller's after they were attacked by a pod of
orcas. Chances are they will be back next year but for now
we contented ourselves with the abundant catsharks.
Tragically, my camera gave me an 'Error' sign
just before a pair of pyjama catsharks started mating. I
guess I will just have to keep returning to False Bay until
I have a chance to photograph this behavior.
After another morning at Seal Island we took a drive to Cape
Point park to hike between Cape Point and the Cape of Good
After enjoying the incredibly rugged
landscapes we tracked down some wildlife including
ostriches, eland and some over friendly baboons. One of the
baboons managed to get into our van but fortunately we
managed to get it out unharmed before it ripped everything
open in search of food.
The next morning the ocean was too rough to
dive but that was ok because we always have one full day
safari scheduled so that our guests can enjoy some of South
Africa's iconic land animals.
We managed to find most of the animals we
were hoping to see plus a few that don't usually show up,
like these clashing hippos that were fighting for dominance
over a female.
A FINAL DIP IN THE HARBOUR
On our final day in False Bay we had one
scheduled dive left but the ocean was still acting up so we
dropped right at the boat mooring to play with the catsharks.
Even here in a man made environment, there are plenty of
little sharks so everyone came home with great memories and
lots and lots of shark images!
JOIN US NEXT YEAR!
After a last supper we said fairwell to our
departing guests and packed up our gear for the long ride
east to Port Saint Johns where we run our yearly Sardine Run
expeditions. As soon as we left Simons Town I was already
pining for False Bay's reefs. This remains (in my humble
opinion) one of he top shark diving locations on the planet
and my personal favorite.
Join us next year:
Bay Shark Safari 2017