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Pelagic Shark Trip

written by Monique Fallows

A Blue shark off Cape Point, Cape Town

Posted on Monday, 12 December 2011

The weather report promised great conditions off Cape Point so we were really excited to head off on one of Apex's pelagic trips into the marine life rich Agulhas Current yesterday. The water was 17 degrees Celsius at Cape Point and at about 25 miles offshore we hit blue 22 degree Celsius water, the best we have had in a long time!

 

We do sometimes find that we get higher numbers of sharks, especially Blue sharks, in the greener water. But, this trip had a photographic focus. Chris was trying out his brand new Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens with his also new Canon 5d Mark 2 after the last was lost to a overly keen Great White. So needless to say he was thrilled when we found warm water with great visibility, perfect for shark photography!

 

The first point of interest we came across was a floating piece of bamboo about four meters long. We never drive past things like this as there can sometimes be interesting critters that have been attracted to this natural FAD ( fish aggregating device). As we approached a shoal of yellowtail were swirling around it and then to our great surprise we noted a very small (less than a meter long) silky shark. It is extremely unusual to see a silky in our waters of Cape Point but it was 22 degrees and of course the FAD had something to do with this sighting as it had probably drifted hundreds of kilometers from warmer waters. There was also a type of grouper which we were not able to identify, brownish in color and roughly 60cm long, almost looking a bit like a wreck fish.

 

Once we selected our spot for the day and started waiting for sharks we managed to attract a yellowfin tuna to the boat. It has been a good while since we have had the opportunity to dive with the yellowfin tuna in large shoals. These are amongst the most magnificent gamefish and it is as exciting to dive with them as the sharks. The bigger they get the bigger their yellow sickle fins grow and they are extremely fast in the water. This makes it difficult to get good images of them added to the fact that Chris had to get extra close due to the fisheye lens. In about forty five minutes we had a school of up to twenty yellowfin around the boat providing an excellent dive.

 

 

The Blue sharks decided to take their time in arriving and the first one came in about two hours after we started our scent line. It was a little guy of 80cm. I think it took one look at the yellowfin and decided he was a little out gunned. Shortly after the small Blue shark departed an awesome 2m plus male Blue shark arrived. He was accompanied by a pilot fish that was in perfect size ratio to him and the pair provided excellent situations for charismatic shark images.

In about forty five minutes we had a school of up to twenty yellowfin around the boat providing an excellent dive.

I always say that Blue sharks are THE best sharks to dive with. They are non-threatening as they move in their silky smooth way and they have no qualms about coming close to divers. You may be surprised to hear that it is normally difficult to get sharks to approach you when in the water and all sorts of techniques like yellow fins, wetsuit's and masks are used by Chris for this purpose.

 

The new canon fisheye lens was superb for close encounters and Chris was really excited to discover new possibilities for different angles. So, I have to conclude that a big obliging Blue shark went perfectly with a new fisheye lens.

 

 

 

After a 2.5 hour dive we headed for home. One of the reasons we love the open ocean shark dive trips so much is that it is more about an ocean adventure and although we have done hundreds of these trips since we first started offering them in 1999, we are still often surprised by what we encounter. Although the primary target is Mako and Blue sharks there is always a possibility of seeing something different and the nutrient rich pelagic waters off Cape Point always hold a surprise.

 

Yesterday Poenas spotted a large dark shape on the surface which we all thought was a monster of a shark, something that is always exciting to see. On approach we discovered it was a 3.5 meter plus Manta ray. We have spent a lot of time off Cape Point and Cape waters and have never seen a Manta ray in our area so it was really exciting. We are not sure what it was doing so far south but it did seem to be on a mission and was headed in the easterly direction up the coast. Chris is never one to lose an opportunity so he carefully entered the water as the manta approached. Even though he was not taking photographs it was an amazing encounter and he said the manta was accompanied by a number of pilot fish, all moving in front of it and a couple of big remoras clinging on underneath. An amazing sighting!

 

The day was not over yet and as we headed back into False Bay we observed a very large school of roughly oen thousand Common dolphin spread across the mouth of the Bay accompanied by hundreds of seals and a few Brydes whales.

 

What a truly spectacular day and we can’t wait for our next adventure out there.

 

We have scheduled trips in December and January so let us know if you wish to join us. Remember you don't have to be a diver to have a great time as we see a lot of great wildlife above the water as well.

Tags:

Marine Life, Blue Sharks, Cape Point - Cape Town

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