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In winter, ragged-tooth sharks congregate at Aliwal Shoal on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast to mate (check out the 10 best dive spots on the African coastline). I went to dive  in late August to check it out. I have only dived there once before (about eight years ago) and though conditions weren’t ideal, we still managed to do some decent diving. The best place to see the ragged-tooth sharks is either at Cathedral (a 27-metre deep dive where up to 50 raggies can be seen) or else Raggie Cave, at about 15 metres.

Ragged-tooth shark, Aliwal Shoal, Kwazulu-Natal

Ragged-tooth shark at Raggie Cave, Aliwal Shoal

Excerpt from interview with shark expert Andy Cobb: “The big ragged-tooth shark notices you and scans you electrically. You watch its body language. It swims forward and you’re in its inner space. One of its options is to touch and taste. Another is acceptance.”

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

The caves at Protea Banks near Northern Pinnacles

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

On the wreck of the Produce

Apart from the raggies and two great wreck dives (the Produce and the Nemo) we saw a butterfly ray, courting boxfish, the rare weedy scorpionfish (rhinopias), schools of striped grunter and sea goldies as well as the rare tiger angelfish and the mysterious harlequin goldie, which is only seen on wrecks.

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

The endemic and rare tiger angelfish

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A starry moray eel

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A scorpionfish hiding in a sponge

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A manta ray silhouetted against the sun

We saw dolphins on the way out to the shoal and we had humpbacks surfacing right next to the boat on one launch. On every dive we could hear the humpbacks singing. In summer one is more likely to see mantas, whalesharks, hammerheads, tigersharks and aggregations of guitarsharks.

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

Inside the wreck of the Produce

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

East Coast rock lobster

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

Divers arriving on the wreck of the Produce in crystal-clear water

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

Devil firefish (pterois miles)

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A colourful nudibranch (risbecia pulchella)

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

Button star (nardoa variolata)

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A colourful boxfish

We also did a trip down to Protea Banks, an hours drive to the south, which is famous for its shark diving. Winter is not the best time for sharks but we still managed to see raggies,two Zambezis and a blacktip while enjoying the caves and colourful reeflife down at 32-36 metres.

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A school of striped grunter

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

An Englishman (chrysoblephus anglicus) and a pencilled surgeon (acanthurus dussumieri)

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A school of zebra fish

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

a porcupine fish being inspected by an underwater photographer

Diving at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal

A paperfish (taenianotus triacanthus)

I’ll be back. Thanks to Agulhas House in Umkomaas, what a great place to stay and what superb breakfasts we had after the morning dives. Thanks also to Vegard their great DM and their skippers who took us to the best possible places. Visit their website at agulhashouse.com

 

Keen to get wet? Check out these top diving travel packages with Getaway Adventures.

 



3 Responses to “In photos: ragged-tooth shark diving at Aliwal Shoal”

  1. Marina van der Merwe

    AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL PICS. Thank you for sharing the beauty underwater.

    Reply

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