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My Season Thus Far

written by Kat Hodgson

A Mako shark off Cape Point, Cape Town

Posted on Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It has been a fascinating start to my second season with Apex, particularly as I arrived in early February and I have not been to South Africa at this time of year. I was curious to see what summer looked and felt like here and it certainly lived up to expectations. I was greeted by an abundance of late summer flowers in gardens, amid cracks in the roadside tarmac and on the hillsides surrounding my home. I was delighted to witness late blooms of proteas and watched lizards basking in the sunshine as we experienced an unusually warm February. It was a fantastic contrast to the cold UK winter and also a welcome relief from the dry and oppressive heat of Egypt, which is where I had been hunkered down after my previous season here. I have discovered that the landscape of the cape is lush and vibrant at this time of year and, whilst it is undeniably stunning in autumn and winter, the summer is simply wonderful.  During my first walk along Fish Hoek beach I couldn’t help but admire how calm the water was and how it slowly drifted in and out in hues of turquoise that I didn’t know existed. I couldn’t wait to get out to Seal Island and begin my season with the sharks. 

 

Would there be many sharks at the boat this early in the year? Would I see my favourites from last year? And what would the sea conditions be like in summer? It nagged at my mind that there was a real possibility the sharks wouldn’t appear so early in the season and we would have a slow start. Nonetheless I was filled with excitement at the prospect of sunshine and what the warmer summer water could bring to us if we were lucky.

 

I needn’t have been concerned as the start of this season picked up pace very quickly and my first two months have been filled with numerous trips to Seal Island. The summer has brought us incredibly hot days with calm water on some of those days. The water was so calm one day that it looked like glass and shimmered beautifully as it lapped against the island rocks. SPF 50 sun cream has become an essential item of the season. I have noticed that the seals, perhaps in the absence of sun cream, spend their day close to the island surf line and in the shallows when it is hot. On many an occasion I eyed up the cool waters and longed to join them. The sharks have also been present during the heat of the summer and I have been surprised by just how many we have seen already. At times it has felt more like peak season, though I don’t deny that some days they are slow to appear and remind us just how early in the year it is. Our patience has been tested at times and I often reminded my guests to relax and enjoy the scenery for the sharks will arrive in their own good time. Which of course they mostly did. 

 

 

 

We also headed out to the big blue waters off Cape Point on one day during the summer and spent time with blue and mako sharks. They are so playful and our guests adored spending time with the sharks and the oceanic bird species that glided past our boat throughout the day. Sadly I had neglected to take my sea sickness tablet (such a rookie error for someone that should know better) and I spent most of the day admiring the clouds from a horizontal position. I have never given a dive briefing whilst lying down before but at least it has reminded me how to have compassion for our guests when they feel that unwell. Lesson learnt and I am now stocked up on my usual sea sickness preventatives: ginger biscuits, chocolate, sea sickness bands and a healthy dose of tablets. Nothing will stop me from being with the sharks!

As we moved into autumn the shark activity really began to pick up and the first wintery weather conditions occurred.

As we moved into autumn the shark activity really began to pick up and the first wintery weather conditions occurred. I saw a beautiful orange and red sunrise the other week and it reminded me of just how glorious the sunrises are throughout winter here. It won’t be long until we are in peak season and the sharks have already given us a preview of what is to come. Deux Rossi has made her appearance at the island this autumn and other new faces have become firm favourites as well. A 3.8m female called Scarlet, so named for the boat propeller wound across her dorsal fin, won my heart. She is lively one day, calm the next and often impossible to predict. I adore the many sides to her personality. I have also fallen for a tiny 1.8m Great White shark that appeared on two days and I admit I walked many laps of the boat trying not to lose it from my field of vision. It was cuddle sized, graceful and downright cute. Add to that mix a thresher shark I saw leap clear of the water, a sun fish, incredible dolphin and gannet sightings and it sums the autumn up perfectly. I couldn’t be happier and appreciate every day at sea with our guests. They really are a joy to spend time with amidst such spectacular wildlife. 

 

 

 

With recent storms and more overcast skies, I feel the winter is approaching us now. The sharks will soon start actively hunting at the island and I can brush up my predation spotting skills. We have already had our first breach of the season on the decoy seal and I can’t wait to see the sharks’ aerobatics as the season progresses. I also cannot wait to welcome back familiar guests from last season and share all of the coming months with them. There is just so much to look forward to.

Tags:

Marine Life, Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks

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