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Scuba Diving at Protea Banks, South Africa
Dive Site: The Southern Pinnacles
Location: Protea Banks, South Africa
Depth: 26 - 35 metres (85 - 115 feet)
Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)
This is definitely the place to go if you want to see Zambezi (bull) sharks. Expect them from November, peaking in March, and remaining in their numbers until May. April and May are the best time to spot the tiger sharks. The scalloped hammerheads often occur like a blanket on top of the divers. Drop-offs close to sandy areas are often frequented by single hammerheads or schools.
Summer is also the time for game fish when schools of yellowtail, kingfish, pike and tunny are often encountered. March and April are good months for manta rays - huge ones too! Be prepared to visit the Kingfish Gully for a spectacular treat of a large kingfish concentration. The Sand Shark Gully is also the best gathering place for various species of sharks.
Melt du Plooy, PADI Open Water
The most spectacular dives I have ever done are at this offshore reef, approximately 7km off Shelly Beach, with powerful currents and big sharks.
The main highlights of Protea Banks are encounters with the large population of bull (Zambezi) sharks on the Southern Pinnacles - bold, fearless and inquisitive, I have had these sharks swim up within touching distance to investigate me and other dive groups. They are around most of the year, especially from October to May along with tiger, hammerhead, giant guitar, blacktip and bronze whaler sharks. There are also occasional visits from copper, mako and white sharks. From August to November congregations ranging from a few to over a hundred sand tiger (ragged tooth) sharks can be found lazing around the Northern Caves, 42m below the surface.
As if drift dives with these amazing creatures was not sufficient, I have had a couple of simply unbelievable experiences on this reef. On my first ever dive there, we were approached while in the water by a pod of humpback whales on their migration route, accompanied by young calves - I have never seen anything so amazing. A close second was when a shark (generally agreed to have been a white shark) attacked a bottlenose dolphin as the pod passed us by less than 15 metres away. For added excitement, on one dive we had the fortune to meet a whale shark at the surface on our way back to shore.... you will struggle to find a more exciting dive location within such easy reach of the diving community anywhere on the planet!!!!
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