Dive Report – Millers Point

If you happen to be in Cape Town and take the M5 as far South as you possibly can, take a right at the traffic circle and just keep going along the coast, you’ll eventually end up at Miller’s Point: A place known all too well to local divers as the starting point for just about every decent boat dive on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula. Though it mainly serves that purpose, simply strolling in via the slipway and taking a quick surface swim to behind the kelp that fringes the shoreline drops you right into one of the most exciting dives Cape Town has to offer: Diving with Sevengill Cow Sharks!  These elongated sharks do not boast the visibly protruding teeth and tiny ferocious eyes of some of their cousins, but instead greet you with almost smiling faces and a generally docile nature that fits in perfectly with the overall calmness of diving.

Broadnose Sevengill Cow Shark (Wikipedia)

We hadn’t had very great diving conditions since around Christmas with only a handful of really great diving days inbetween; something totally pointless to those of us who already started work in the first week of January and as Murphy would have it, the best diving days usually pop up in the middle of the week. Last week was no different, with Thursday and Friday sporting some great (yet cold) conditions after what seemed like an eternity of milky, surgy water. Although the swell was still fairly high on Saturday, the lack of wind gave us hope for equally great (or at least acceptable) conditions on Sunday for the weekly OMSAC club dive. We decided to hit the water as early as possible and all met at Long Beach at 08h30 to check out the water conditions in order to decide where we would be diving, although there had been talks of hitting Miller’s Point the previous day already. From the surface conditions looked great: Windless, sunny, and hardly any swell at all with just a few tiny splashes hitting the shore every now and then. These conditions usually bode well for False Bay as wind and surge are usually to blame for dirty shore dives.

This would be the second time I was diving my new kit after a month of fiddling with the configuration and trying my best to calculate my weighting as accurately as possible to avoid an uncomfortably postitive- or negatively buoyant dive, and I was especially glad that I added an extra KG of lead for good measure as we pulled into the Miller’s Point parking lot. Docile or not, a shark dive is the one time you don’t want to be battling to stay down…

We kitted up and after one or two hose and wetsuit malfunctions were quickly remedied we hit the glassy water and started our surface swim. Sadly, the large swell from the previous day had done it’s damage and visibility was down to only a few meters, but on these dives that would mean that shark encounters would be much more personal which is great news for the seasoned shark diver. There are few greater moments in diving than watching these majestic predators glide effortlessly though the water, close enough to see their eyes and finer features like little scuff marks, rough, shimmering scales and sometimes even mementos from some close encounters with man. There was a slow surge as a result of the long period swell, gently swaying kelp and divers from side to side, yet the sharks seemed immune to this and did not falter as they moved in and out of sight. An especially welcome sight during the dive was the presence of more than one pregnant female, easily distinguishable by their abnormally large abdomen. Though they may not spawn at this site, it has been known to serve as a nursery which will be a most welcome site on future dives

As always the dive ended all too soon and we headed back to shore, amazed, humbled and filled with new fond memories of our underwater encounters with these magnificent animals…

-M