They say no dive site is ever the same and that certainly rings true for those at Sodwana Bay. I’ve dived the coral reefs of Sodwana numerous times and except for the odd territorial potato bass, you never know what to expect. As our seasoned dive guru Dean Channon of Underwater World points out ad nauseum “just because the last dive group saw a manta ray on 2-mile doesn’t mean you’re likely to see it now”.
Every time I go to Sodwana I dream of seeing a whale shark on scuba. Having only experienced snorkeling with one of these gentle giants of the ocean, it’s on my bucket list along with diving with dugongs.
On a trip there last week, I thought this time I might just be lucky. We were on the beach with Coral Divers preparing to kit up and head off to 5-mile when very excited divers arrived back from their 5-mile dive waxing lyrical about being joined by not one, but two, whale sharks.
Of course, they wouldn’t still be hanging around just waiting for me a few hours later. They weren’t. And just to prove how fickle diving can be … I didn’t even see the Zambezi shark that apparently whooshed past us while we were descending on Gotham.
Everyone had been raving about a previous dive they’d done there, but, quite frankly, I didn’t see very much at all, which proves the point that this game is all about anticipation and surprise.
When the surprises come, however, they don’t disappoint. Doing our last dive at Anton’s on 2-mile was definitely a case of saving the best for last.
The big swells from the previous two days had made the shallower dives rather uncomfortable thanks to a nasty surge. But come Sunday morning the sea had flattened out considerably and we decided that Anton’s reef - named after Anton Buchel, one of the first dive operators in Sodwana Bay – would be ideal.
It was. From the surface we could see straight down to the reef below teeming with schooling fish. I couldn’t wait to get down and within seconds was in a filming frenzy as a school of slinger swam into me, followed closely by a bluefin kingfish and humpback snapper.
Then came the fusiliers and blue banded snapper, rock cod, parrot fish, scorpion fish, boxies, Moorish idols, clownfish and potato bass.
A very inquisitive blaasop kept us company for a good 10 minutes and we were wowed by the sighting of a short-nosed sting ray which put on a show for us, settling in the sand and then gliding off.
Thanks to our very relaxed and proficient divemaster Ziphiwe Ntuli we were able to chill out to our maximum dive time surrounded by sea life that could rival an aquarium any day.
Top to bottom visibility, a warmish (for spring) 23 deg C ocean and a smooth ride home – with lots of stories to tell and pictures to show - completed what was another perfect dive.
~ Text and Photos: Debbie Reynolds