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Tuna at Mtangani Hammerhead Dive, Pemba
Mtangani Hammerhead Dive, Pemba
Snapper at Mtangani Hammerhead Dive, Pemba

Pemba Scuba Diving

Dive Site: Mtangani Hammerhead Shark Dive

Location: Mtangani, Pemba, Tanzania

Description: Reef / drift

Depth: 15 - 60 metres (50 - 200 feet)

Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)

Rating: *****

This is the site that we made the effort to come around to the east side of the island for. Hammerhead sharks are known to patrol Mtangani Reef and a good time to see them is at the crack of dawn. Our guide told us he saw them about 1 dive out of every 10 here. Not good odds, but I wasn't about to turn the dive down and was prepared to risk not seeing them! The rib journey out of Mtangani Lagoon to the reef took around 30 minutes because we were fighting the current that under the surface would rip us along the reef and we didn't want to drift past the entrance channel to the lagoon about 1 kilometre away. The journey out in the early dawn light was quite tense and I couldn't wait to enter the water and look for the hammerheads.

Once in the water visibility meant we couldn't see too far down the reef so it became evident that the best place to see hammerheads would be out into the blue and as deep as we could get on the 60 metre slope. As we rocketed along in the current I saw a turtle and a Napoleon wrasse as well as a shoal of about 50 giant trevally. Time was running out however and we had to make our way back to the reef and start heading to the surface. Back on the boat our liveaboard companions were grinning from ear to ear and we immediately knew they'd hit the jackpot. They had seen seven hammerheads cruising the reef about 20 metres below them. Unfortunately in the limited visibility they must have been just beyond the range of our vision. In the next three dives I did here I disappointingly never found the hammerheads although they were spotted again by the others. What I did see however was a shoal of giant tuna, some oversized flying fish, a turtle on every dive and a napoleon wrasse on every dive. The napoleons and turtles here aren't especially friendly however and quickly swam off when they spotted divers.

There are lots of big shoals of reef fish here too and if you move away from the blue and onto the reef it becomes a very attractive dive site. The current here was consistently belting along at about 4 knots and often there were some intense downcurrents to contend with. On one dive we went past the entrance to Mtangani Lagoon. The water leaving the lagoon was rocketing down to the seafloor and despite only being a few metres from my buddy I got pulled down to 35 metres with it whilst he casually drifted along at 10 metres, wondering if I was going to look at something! It highlighted to us just how immense and unpredictable the currents could be in Pemba.

A very unpredictable dive site in terms of current and marine life but the big fish were very impressive and the memory of them will always stay with me. I can only guess how stunning it would have been to see the hammerheads!

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