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Diving Aliwal Shoal Reef-Umkomaas, South Africa

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Describe types of diving in the area: Baited Shark Dive.
This is a unique opportunity to dive with sharks without the safety of a cage! Our experienced team ensures your safety at all times whilst you enjoy the freedom of seeing the sharks in their own environment doing what they do best: inspiring awe, respect and wonder at their grace and agility.

The baited dives are conducted south of Aliwal Shoal Reef where there is no interference with the regular reef dives. The water is "scented" with anchovy oil to attract the sharks and a bait drum is lowered into the water at about 6-8m. Once sufficient activity is noted, the DM checks the area and invites the divers in. The dives are shallow; around 5-8m and can last much longer than a normal dive simply because time flies when you’re having fun!

How many dive sites in the area: 100+.

Best dive sites:

  • Maximum depth 27m.
  • Advanced divers.

A very popular dive for the Ragged Tooth Shark enthusiast. During the "Raggie" season it is possible to see up to 40 of these placid sharks resting within the amphitheatre. A fantastic photo opportunity! During the summer months look out for hammerheads above, and see the stingrays which take up residence when the Sand Tigers depart.

Raggies Cave
  • Maximum depth 18m.
  • Open Water divers.

The most popular dive site and is the best place to view the Ragged Tooth Sharks during the shark season.

Entry into the cave is not permitted when the sharks are here but there is an excellent viewing area at the entrance where divers can safely kneel and watch the sharks activities. When the sharks have departed this is a very good place to hunt for sharks teeth in the sand.

Howards Castle
  • Maximum Depth 27m.
  • Advanced divers

This recently discovered and pristine site is not often dived as it requires a longer boat ride and sea conditions need to be calm. There are loads of interesting gullies and overhangs as well as a wide diversity of marine life.

Inside Edge
  • Maximum depth 22m.
  • Open Water divers

This section of the reef encompasses the entire inshore edge of the shoal. Although many large species of fish, sharks, dolphins and rays may be found here, it is particularly good for finding smaller things such as octopus, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, firefish, cowfish, nudibranchs and eels.

Outside Edge
  • Maximum depth 27m
  • Open Water to Advanced divers (depending on the area)

This is the dive site for viewing the big stuff, and it is always a good idea to keep an eye out at midwater where schools of hammerheads, game fish or the odd tiger shark may be found.

Manta Point
  • Depth 15 – 22m.
  • Mainly Advanced Divers.

Lots of nooks and crannies where crayfish and cleaner shrimp hide. Good area to find rays of all varieties especially Manta Rays during the season.

MV Produce
  • Maximum depth 32m.
  • Advanced Divers.

This steel cargo ship was carrying molasses when it hit the reef and sunk in 1974. It is lying on its hull in 3 sections. The stern and bow are more or less intact but the centre section has collapsed. A favourite haunt of Lion Fish, and everyone who dives here is hoping for a glimpse of the two giant Brindle Bass which are rumored to weigh around 400 Kg.

  • Maximum depth 27m.
  • Advanced Divers.

The wooden wreckage of this old steamer which sunk in 1884 lies approximately 1 Km north west of Aliwal Shoal. It is still possible to see the propeller and the boiler on the wreck. There are many eels and large shoals of baitfish at all times of the year. You will see many different species of shrimps around the boiler area. Keep an eye open for Barracuda and Tuna which are hunting the smaller fish which shelter here. There have been sightings of paper fish and frog fish on the wreck.

List fish commonly seen in the area: There is a huge array of fish species, rays, turtles, mantas and sharks. Ragged tooth sharks are the most common shark species. You have every chance of seeing Tiger and Hammerhead sharks on every dive. You might even get the chance to see the huge (and I mean huge) Brindle Bass on the wreck dives! Other species include Manta, Devil and other rays, schools of pelagic fish, whales, dolphins, and many, many more! +3 Ocean sunfish were spotted in January this year!

Best time to dive: Year-round. Shallowest dive 8M/26F. Deepest Dive: 40M/132F. Visibility: Perfect. Any Wrecks: Several wrecks. Suit required: Short Wet Suit 5-7mm.


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