Diving on the Protea Reef

Scuba Divers paradise

The Southern Natal Coastline has become a paradise for scuba diving. With as many as 40 000 dives a year taking place at Aliwal Shoal, which is 60km north of Margate, many enthusiasts are traveling further South to discover a reef approximately 7 kilometers offshore from Margate and parallel to the continental shelf. The launch site for Protea Banks is the Shelly Beach small craft harbor.

There, dive operators take up to 10 divers at a time in specially designed semi-rigid dive boats through the surf and 7 km out to sea. Protea Banks is considered to be one of the best shark dives in the world, the depth is between 26 and 30 meters and generally has a strong current running. Divers must have at least an advanced qualification to participate.

The type of sharks that can be seen on Protea Reef are: Zambezi, Tiger Shark, Copper Shark, Scalloped and Greta Hammerhead, Black tip Shark, Ragged Tooth and, if one is lucky, Great White. There are also large concentrations of Game Fish to be found. Full dive resort facilities include air fills, nitro fills, dive courses, sales and service and daily dive charters to Protea Banks.

The province boasts a range of exciting diving and snorkeling locations. Take your snorkel and fins and head for the points and shaded inlets. There is good diving at Umhlanga Rocks and Ballito, but the best-known southern sites are Protea Banks, Aliwal Shoal, famous for its Ragged-Tooth Sharks, and Landers Reef.

The South Coast has world-class dive sites, including Aliwal Shoal (Shelly Beach)
The water is generally warm all year round, and seldom drops below 20 degrees centigrade. Aliwal Shoal lies 5 kilometers off-shore, just south of Umkomaas. The shoal is fossilized sand dune comprising a variety of sponges, soft and hard coal and convergence of warm water reef fish and cold water reef fish.

A number of companies operate out of Umkomaas, taking divers south to the shoal on a daily basis. The ski-boats launch through the surf of the North bank of the Umkomaas River mouth. One of the main attractions of Aliwal Shoal is a large number of ragged tooth sharks which congregate, especially from July to November. Seeing these magnificent creatures close-up is an awe-inspiring experience, and surprisingly, quite safe. There has not been a single recorded shark attack on a scuba diver on the south coast. The shoal has many gullies and caves to explore, and you can see a large variety of fish life.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 March 2008 18:58)

 
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