At the All Out Africa Marine Research Centre we have, like everyone through 2020, had an extremely quiet time. This has been devastating for our decade-long database now near-on a 12-month data gap. All has not been lost, however! Over the last couple of weeks, we were able to jump on a few of the dive boats in Tofo and managed to get a few lucky encounters.
We had one extremely rough day on the ocean where the boat launch was nearly cancelled. Bracing ourselves through the chop, inevitably when we rolled back to get underwater it was absolutely glorious on dive site ‘Giants’. With top-to-bottom visibility, what a relief to get off the surface. As we turn to see where we are heading, a carpet of white and black glides over the rocky bottom – a reef manta ray directly below us! We slowly headed to the sea floor and held our position, but as a small dive group of 4, our new manta friend was so relaxed she circled us several times. She once flashed her belly within two meters of our heads! ID shots taken, we continued the dive.
A little way along the tall reef wall, we would often find the resident loggerhead turtle in a rocky overhang, but he just wasn’t there. Perhaps he has moved on since it’s been so long that we have been diving on ‘Giants’. Enjoying the schooling trevally overhead and inspecting the little white-banded cleaner shrimp in their holes, bam. We look up and our old huge loggerhead neighbor almost swam right into us! What a relief to see him, and to know he’s still keeping guard of his rocky nook. Just as our computers had begun to tell us it was time to ascend, we always take a look all around – above and below in the depths. Unbelievable.
A first for me after nearly 5 years of diving these waters, a ragged-tooth shark! Sadly, it was sitting at around 35 meters, and we were forced to begin our ascent. It goes to show – you must always be patient and persistent, you never know what a rough ocean might deliver.
To learn more about our All Out Africa Marine Research project, or talk about how you can get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org