The Rhodes University Underwater Club recently went scuba diving on Aliwal Shoal, a marine protected area (MPA) about 70km below Durban and 5km offshore from the Umkomaas River mouth.
The Rhodes University Underwater Club recently went scuba diving on Aliwal Shoal, a marine protected area (MPA) about 70km below Durban and 5km offshore from the Umkomaas River mouth. MPAs are some of the last remaining areas where divers can catch a glimpse of how bountiful our oceans used to be, and the Rhodes diving team, consisting of 11 Underwater Club members, was lucky enough to clock six dives
on the shoal.
Each of the dives took place on a different spot along the shoal, which provided for a diverse experience of what Aliwal had to offer.
Some of the marvellous creatures the Rhodes members were able to experience in their natural habitat of
stunningly beautiful coral reef were: scorpion fish, honeycomb eels, parrot fish, ragged-tooth sharks, large schools of moorish idols, crayfish, lionfish, nudibranchs and loggerhead turtles.
Apart from diving with marine creatures the club also got to see a pod of common dolphins and a humpback whale and her calf, which breached right next to the boat.
For many, the real highlight was that on the last day of diving the group set out for a dive dedicated to diving with sharks.
For just over an hour themembers were able to free and scuba dive with what must have been at times over 25 sharks, ranging from black tip, dusky, tiger, and bull (Zambezi) sharks.
Contrary to what Jaws would have many believe the sharks were only fleetingly curious about the Rhodes divers, and concentrated mostly on other sources of food, which allowed for most of the divers to have the phenomenal experience of watching these highly revered apex predators in their natural habitat and at times even getting to stroke them.
It was an experience that gave many not only a new perspective on sharks, but also of their own vulnerability.
The trip was also educational as the club members got to visit the Oceanographic Research Institute, Ushaka Museum and learnt about the evils of the often highly lauded Natal Sharks Board.
Overall the trip was an incredibly awe-inspiring, fun, social, educational, beautiful, soul-building experience, which helped the members to once again appreciate the true value and wonder of our natural environment.
For more information about the Underwater Club visit their