Under The Sea
After relocating to the Ballito area about a year ago, we found ourselves compulsively exploring the coastline, the gorgeous rock pools and lesser-known beaches. Being keen scuba divers and ocean enthusiasts in general, we decided one day to don a mask and snorkel, stick our heads under the water and take a closer look around. What we found astonished us and from that moment we were simply addicted to snorkeling around the North Coast.
The Ballito to Sheffield beach area is really quite special. I stand to be corrected, but I do not know any other site along the South African Coastline where corals, lots of coral can be found in waist deep water and accessible from the shore. And where you have coral, you have amazing ocean life. Take for example, this Nudibranch (Nudibranch’s are essentially slugs on LSD) these spectacular critters are rather common along our coastline and the funny thing is, we have not managed to see two of the same species yet.
Or this Yellow-spotted Scorpionfish, this is a shy fish that we only really know from diving the reefs further north, certainly not something you expect to see in a tidal pool. To date, we have been able to see over 100 species of fish in these tidal pools, many of which such as various morays, butterfly fish and wrasse are again typically associated with open ocean diving sites.
We realized, that from the surface, most these areas look rather bland, but the moment you stick your head under water, a brand new world emerges. And I am really not exaggerating here. It is a wonderland. And we wanted to share this, at times we almost feel like shouting at people, “stop look, look “ as they saunter by, totally unaware of what lay beneath.
On the down side, we were also noticing that almost 50% of any coral we saw was damaged or dying from suffocation by old fishing line. We noticed fishermen catching and killing seriously undersized fish, leaving dead bait lying around, litter smothering coral and sponge’s gardens…and Tidal Tao, Snorkeling Safaris was born. We needed people to see what we saw and appreciate what is in the oceans, the more people are looking and saying “wow, that is beautiful, incredible” - the more people will be inclined to say, “hey, this needs to be looked after”. We have a chance to give people an experience that is almost as special and humbling as scuba diving, but without the risk, without the expensive gear, equipment and training.
Snorkeling is easy; it’s fun and totally safe. Tidal Tao has a range of sites that we take people snorkeling in, which are carefully timed according to tides and weather to ensure that folks can experience this underwater wonderland in a very safe environment, regardless of swimming skills or experience in the sea.
Tidal Tao has four different trip types,
- The beginners feeding frenzy safari, which is a great way to see a LOT of fish and just enjoy a new experience. A lot of time is spent helping first timers learn to use their gear and enjoy the experience …and the highlight, morning coffee and croissants on the beach, always a winner.
- The critter hunting safaris, which focus on more secluded tidal pools and we spend time not looking for fish, but interesting critters such as Nudibranchs, colorful Shrimps, Octopuses and the likes
- The Zen Safari, which is an hour of bliss. You’d be amazed at what just floating in a pool, watching the fish around you can do for your psyche.
- And then finally for the more adventurous, night snorkeling, you want to see some crazy creatures? Stick your head under water at night
It may not be the Great Barrier Reef, but the ocean life along our coastline is extremely diverse and more precious than any of us can begin to imagine. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re missing out. There is a brand new world underwater waiting for you. If you can swim, you can learn to snorkel, we have all the gear you will need and accredited guides. Visit www.tidaltoa.com or Tel Michy on 079 3070608 for more information on Snorkeling Safaris around Ballito.