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Wilderness Safaris News -
Info and updates from Wilderness Safaris
Monthly update from Kings Pool Camp in
Monthly update from Savuti Camp in
Monthly update from DumaTau Camp in
Monthly update from Zibalianja & Selinda Camps in
Kwando Safaris game reports.
Monthly update from Mombo Camp in
update from Jack's Camp in Botswana.
sighting on a Migration Routes Safari in
Page 2 Updates
Monthly update from Tubu Tree Camp in
Monthly update from Jao Camp in
Monthly update from Jacana Camp in
Monthly update from Kwetsani Camp in
Monthly update from Duba Plains Camp in
Monthly update from Vumbura Plains in
Monthly update from Pafuri Camp in
Turtle news from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Monthly Dive report from Rocktail
Bay in South Africa.
Tree Camp update - November 06 Jump
to Tubu Tree
Traditionally November is the month that brings
our rain, but rain has been conspicuously absent this month, with
only 4mm in the beginning of the month. The result is felt in the
temperatures during day time, hovering in the mid-thirties during
midday and twenty degrees Celsius in the early mornings. We have
however had a daily display of the most impressive lightning and
thunder displays almost every sunset. This also makes for spectacular
sunsets, with colours ranging from azure blue to deep reds and
Our guests loved the game drive sundowners, and
the sightings were unbeatable during November, with a pride of
13 lions and one big, dominant male lion spending time on our
paradise island. The pride has 10 cubs of varying ages, and playing
with mom's tail is the order of the day. Some of the more daring
cubs even stalked, ambushed and made their first "kill" on
the dominant male, who took it in his stride and played along:
All this was viewed from the safety of the Land Rover game drive
vehicle by our guests.
Our general game is looking good, and lots of
new impala lambs were born during this month, forming little
and playing the whole day. Some of our guests were lucky enough
to view the birth of a little blue wildebeest (gnu), and were astounded
at how quickly it happened.
The African wild dog pack that was around camp
at the beginning of the month has returned with a vengeance,
and the baby impala and gnu are in for a rude awakening in "survival of the fittest".
On the first day of their return our guests witnessed all the action
these animals are famed for, seeing four "kills" in 30
minutes. As they say, "things just seem to happen around these
The summer migrant birds have paired off and started
breeding, so within a few weeks we will start seeing all the
new chicks and then later the juvenile birds trying their flying
technique on brand new wings, which will be a "birder's paradise".
Broad-billed Rollers, Black Kites and Paradise Flycatchers, White-headed
Vulture, Long-billed Crombec, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-headed
Weaver, Chinspot Batis, Willow Warblers and many more were seen
out on game drive.
Leopard sightings abound, even as many as four different leopards
sighted in one drive, including females with cubs. These absolutely
magnificent leopard sightings and interaction with other game has
been a definite highlight this month with all of our guests. From
witnessing leopard kills during daytime to a troop of chacma baboons
chasing off a young female on a hunt (impala), these cats have
seen to the extraordinary bush entertainment of our guests for
The small bachelor herd of around 14 buffalo "dagga boys" seem
ready to pick a fight with all comers, even the big lion pride
of 13, who so far have not taken the buffalo up on their challenge,
but this battle is surely coming. These dagga boys are hanging
around the Tubu hide and as far north and east as the Tubu Boat
station, and are probably eagerly awaiting the coming of the big
herds, for some female company of course! We are looking forward
to seeing these herds ourselves.
As someone has said, "it is as if you took a paintbrush and
let your wildest imaginations run free, with colour everywhere,
as far as the eye can see". Our guests visiting during the
coming months will be privy to these beautiful sights and sounds
of Mother Nature waking from her deep winter slumber. Enjoy!
Always having fun out here!
Peter, Moa and the Tubu team
Jao Camp update
- November 06 Jump
to Jao Camp
has been wonderful but not nearly as much rain has fallen as normally
expected. It has been a relatively dry month only 18mm of rain recorded.
The temperatures have gone up to maximum of around 35°C and a warm
low of around 19°C. The water levels have dropped substantially
and the boats have been taken out of the water until next year round
mid-April. However, we still have a huge amount of wading birds around
and even more so than when the water was high.
The total drop in water levels and minimal rain has brought very interesting
sightings in November. The most amazing probably was the lions taking
the number one spot with a tsessebe kill. The guides arrived at the sight
of a tsessebe female standing in the middle of a floodplain alone just
staring ahead of her, then the guides realised that she was standing
there for a reason: she had a calf! We had two vehicles driving towards
the scene from different directions, the one stopped close to the calf,
because the mother had already moved away from the calf and as the other
car came around a tsaro (palm) bush they realised the lions were lying
under it about 50 metres away from the calf now standing all alone. The
guests said it was so instinctive that as soon as the females got the
first whiff of the little calf they were up pounced and got it, it all
happened in seconds.
Our resident elephants have been around keeping our guests entertained
as always. The strangest thing happened round the middle of the month
when we arrived at the lodge one morning. We found one of the big trees
that had been part of our entrance feature flat on the ground! Very strange
was the fact that this tree was dead, very dead and has been for a couple
of years so we do not understand why this elephant had done this? We
never go through a day in the bush without being baffled with some kind
of animal behaviour.
Our resident leopard Beauty has lost her cub Tumo to two lions on the
Jao floodplain. Somehow she was caught in the open flood plain by the
lions and she got mauled to bits and was found the next day. This was
a very sad day for us as we got very used to having her around, but such
is life and it has to go on! The mother has started to mate again with
the resident male. She and the male - who is said to be the father of
the cub that died - have been hanging around the camp and airstrip area
for some time this last month. We even found them walking over the bridge
coming into camp on several occasions.
The two male lions are still at each other, with us seldom seeing both
of them together with the cubs and females we have around. The two males
got into a big fight about four months ago and since then have not been
enjoying each other's company. The females chose to stay with one specific
male for some unexplained reason although the other member of the coalition
comes to visit every now and again! The cubs are doing very well and
we have not really had any cub of any kind survive the harsh environment
of Jao for several years, so it will be good if they can see it through
to the next batch of cubs which should come in early January! The two
Broken Tail lionesses have also moved back into the area. We had not
seen them for the whole flood season as the guides believe that they
were trapped in a flooded area.
The hyaenas are back as we have been seeing huge amounts of tracks and
we are thinking that the same kind of scenario has happened as they moved
their den further away from the camp in the beginning of the year when
the water came in and that they were isolated from the camp by the water
and only now that it has dried up are they able to get back onto the
Island and the surrounding areas.
There is a huge baby boom with the antelope especially impala, tsessebe
and wildebeest. Lots of babies around and in conjunction with the elephants
and the cat sightings have made Jao a pleasurable game viewing destination
this month. Our resident bushbuck are still around in camp as well as
the banded mongoose which are going to have even more babies soon, can
you believe it, there are about 100 of them already. Our warthogs have
left the Island - whether in the stomach of a predator or on their own
accord we do not know.
The birding has been excellent, seeing lots of Broad-billed Rollers
and also having spotted the Whimbrel which is very rare in this area
(more typically found in coastal areas). Lots of Woodland and Pied Kingfishers,
all kinds of Herons (i.e. Goliath, Green-backed, Squacco and Purple)
and Wattled Cranes have all been filling up the dry floodplains with
a mix of Saddle-billed Storks and Egrets.
With the rains come beautiful sunsets and at the moment the guests really
enjoy ending a day in the Delta with a nice drink and some friends, which
is what makes Africa special this time of the year.
Some of our guests' comments:
The personal attention. Thank you so very much for making the last day
of our honeymoon memorable. We had an amazing time here at Jao. The
staff is incredible. - Megan and Chris
The overall experience, the food the staff the animals all exceptional.
The friendliness and professionalism was evident throughout. - Mike and
We would put Jao very high on our list of places to go. The lodge itself
is jaw dropping. The food was fantastic. The Jao team is very welcoming
and has a great spirit. The massage was wonderful. It has been a privilege
to stay with you. - Derek and Martha.
Our highlight has been the tent and its location. The game drives. The
general level of hospitality and friendliness. - Henning and Renate
Lovely month, excellent guests, great weather what else can we say?
Till next year, hope all who read this newsletter will have a wonderful
Christmas and a happy new year. Thanks for all who have read this year's
newsletters religiously and hope to see you next time with some more
exciting news from the Botswana bush, Pula!
The Jao team
Jacana Camp update
- November 06 Jump
to Jacana Camp
a busy first month back to Jacana! We have had the pleasure of sharing
some amazing scenes of changing climate and animal behaviour with some
great guests and also opened Jacana to the Children in the Wilderness
The weather is hot and humid as expected for this time of year with
the average temperatures ranging between 21-33 degrees Celsius, 40 degrees
being the highest.
We have enjoyed a rest from the heat with some spectacular lightening
storms, which on one occasion rocked our little island and the dramatic
sights of lightening flashes surrounding us were a highlight for our
guests. Such storms blessed us with 35.5 mm of rain this month which
has noticeably brightened the bush and announced the start of the calving
season. We have since enjoyed the views of newborn lechwe in front of
camp, and close-by impala lambs and zebra foals often sheltered by their
This rain however has not held back the receding water which surrounds
camp and with the level now very shallow in parts we have decided to
remove our motor boats from the water. We now make the journey from Jao
floodplains to Jacana by vehicle instead.
Guests have really enjoyed this overland adventure, spotting game along
the way and commenting on the strength of the vehicles as they plough
through the water crossings which are still reasonably deep in parts.
This hasn't stopped our water activities and mokoro is still a favourite
excursion for all our guests, viewing this Delta paradise from a different
perspective, so quite, so peaceful...
Jack our well-known elephant bull has been missing for some time now
and we are all itching for him to visit our island once more. Musimane
has been a frequent visitor as usual, walking through the boma and interrupting
dinner time with his much loved presence.
A new breeding herd of elephant has also been sighted very close to
Jacana, a young herd with many calves walking in the shadows of their
mothers. An overwhelming experience and always a highlight for guests.
Sadly this month we lost our leopard cub to a lion attack. Tumo, who
was approaching one year old, was crossing a very open floodplain perhaps
shadowing her mother's movements and sadly lost a confrontation with
our resident lion pride. Mane hair was found in her claws so we are sure
she fought back but could not compete for size or strength against a
male lion. The calls of the leopard's mother could be heard throughout
the night as well as the calls of lion; we now know the female was searching
for her cub. A very sad loss for staff and guests but this incident reminds
us all the unpredictable and intricate relationships which exist in nature
and this Delta environment.
We were concerned for the female leopard's whereabouts following this
loss but thankfully we are now sighting her safe and well in the presence
of a male leopard. As nature takes its course and with the loss of one
young we hope the sightings of these two leopards already mating will
bring a successful gestation and new arrival of leopard cubs in NG25.
Lion, as predicted, have followed the antelope closer to Jacana with
the low water levels and two lionesses have been sighted walking through
camp on several occasions this month.
At night it is possible to hear the herds of lechwe darting through
the water, sounding the 'snorting' alarm, due to the lion activity although
we are yet to see a successful kill.
One reptile I feel must be mentioned is a very large crocodile sighted
at Jacana Bridge just before camp. This crocodile was approximately 3
metres long and in very good condition, a very welcome surprise and change
from the 0.5-metre juvenile crocs which we regularly see.
Towards the end of the month we were closed to guests and welcomed the
'Children in the Wilderness' programme to Jacana. This is a non-profit
making organisation which aims at educating and offering a Delta experience
to children from the local communities. We have witnessed these children
grow during their six-day stay with us as they were taught life skills,
and educated about the environment, the Delta, and healthy living.
George and Jargon our guides have enjoyed their activities with these
children, taking them on mokoro, bush walks and game drives. We are sure
their knowledge of the bush has been tested with the constant questions
of these very inquisitive children. A great experience for all which
we are sure the local children will benefit from immensely.
Looking forward to December we are still very much involved with CITW
and of course are very excited about the Christmas season and the gifts
the bush will have in store for us!
Conrad, Katie & Team
- Bruce & Linda Bancroft: 'We loved our time here.
Conrad & Katie
were perfect host and hostess. The visit here was truly memorable.
This was our first trip to Africa. We ended our 3 week trip at this camp.
It was the highlight of a great trip. We have no criticism'.
McClean: 'A paradise, such friendly staff, a big thank you!'
- Claudio & Slyie Frateschi: 'For our 11th
Wilderness camp we must say great camp and great people! Thank you!'
Bruno & Suzzana Walther: 'We come as a stranger,
we went as a friend.'
- Dr Franz Boehm: 'We had a fantastic time and enjoyed
every minute of our stay! Management and staff: AAAAA++'.
- November 06 Jump
to Kwetsani Camp
Firstly thank you to all the guests and friends that passed through
Kwetsani this month, hosting part of your adventure was a pleasure for
us at Kwetsani.
What a month for the weatherman, and for those
who were here. The August wind played a trick on us by blowing some
gale forces through this month as well. The winter days have definitely
gone, the temperature reaching a high 42°C (115F). The pool has
been a big hit this month, with guests drinking wine and enjoying the
beautiful views from the pool. Although the days are extremely hot,
the African skies threaten us with rain, and have produced some amazing
lighting shows along with the sounds of long, deep, rolling thunder.
Still the Okavango Delta gives us the most breathtaking mornings and
The water levels have dropped below the boating level, but mokoros are
still on the move and enjoyed by all, getting close to nature and its
peace and tranquillity. There are large numbers and a vast range of birds
this time of year in the Delta, both migratory and resident. Many nests
can be seen around camp and in the floodplains on mokoro. The beautiful
colours and sounds of the Woodlands Kingfisher keep every birdwatcher
in awe. The open floodplain in front of Kwetsani brings large numbers
of Wattled Crane and Ground Hornbills, which are both endangered in Botswana.
The bushbuck in camp has produced a young male; bringing the island count
Our python has played hide-and-seek with us, and has only been spotted
twice this month. We had a rare sighting of a honey badger out in the
floodplains, heading towards camp and scavenging with the side-striped
jackals. The new rains have brought new life to the Delta. A good number
of newborn zebra, tsessebe, elephant and warthogs of which Kwetsani has
seven piglets have been seen. Baboons and our favourite, the vervet monkey
babies, can be seen foraging for food.
As nature has it, with new life comes predators, and the Northern Kwetsani
lion pride have made themselves visible. They too have two cubs, but
are shy in front of the vehicles still, and seem to creep into the thicket
on approach. As for our NG25 Pride, the cubs are growing and enjoying
life to its fullest. They have made their home for the moment in the
Jao floodplains and are keeping bellies full with young tsessebe. This
has been top of the list for guest highlights this month, with a number
of full-length kills sighted.
The elephants have caused some goose flesh with guests. On the evening
of the 22nd, we had sundowners around the pool area watching more than
100 elephant pass by, with at least 20 little ones, a sight one does
not get to experience every day.
With the water drying up and the pools for the hippos getting smaller,
pods are forced to congregate together, the males displaying their teeth
sizes to each other.
Our sad news for this month was the death of our leopard cub, Tumo,
on the Jao floodplains. She unfortunately came across the NG25 Pride
of lions on the floodplains with no place to take cover and did not make
it home. She will be missed by all.
From all of us here at Kwetsani, we wish YOU and your family BEST WISHES
for this festive season, wherever you are.
Plains Camp update - November 06 Jump
to Duba Plains
- 12 November
November is the month of the first substantial rains here in northern
Botswana, their arrival easing the unbearable heat of October.
The wildlife enjoys the cool late afternoon thunderstorms and so
do we. These last two weeks have provided moments of pure beauty
and sheer power combined.
Last night we had an unexpected visit of our two
most famous lions - "the Duba boys". Coming back from
the afternoon safari, we found them walking just outside camp
before disappearing into the night where we couldn't follow any
longer. Aged a suspected fifteen years, one of them still looks
in his prime while his brother appears to be starting a slow
decline. Unable to keep pace with his brother, he is hampered
by a limping hind leg and obliged through pain to stop and regularly
slake his thirst. It seems that after a decade of stability and
absolute dominance of the Duba Boys, the local dynamics may be
about to change? we'll keep you all posted.
On this theme, one day this week we were driving along Sausage
Point Island where in the distance we spotted two male lions lying
in the open. As we drew closer we realised that the two lions were
two of the young males from the Skimmer Pride, looking very relaxed
way inside the Tsaro Pride territory. Our surprise was even greater
when we saw few yards away a large lioness from the Tsaro pride
lying flat and constantly keeping an eye on those two challenging
young males. As we watched one of the young males stood up and
cautiously walked toward the thick island covered by Tsaro palm
trees close to where the female was lying. He sniffed the ground
and scanned the area for danger, after few minutes displaying flehmen
(typical behaviour in male lions when testing the sexual receptiveness
of a female of the same species). James moved the vehicle to provide
a better perspective and it was only then that we realised the
whole situation. The entire Tsaro Pride, barring 'Silver Eye' and
one of the Duba Boys, lay on the same palm-covered island. The
Duba Boy present was mating with one of the twin lionesses, while
her sister played with her two adorable 3-month-old cubs. Another
female was busy with her own litter of three cubs of about the
same age, cute little creatures jumping on their mother's back,
trying to catch the irresistible black tail tip and fearlessly
bite it, playing hide and seek amongst the adults, and finally
grabbing their share of milk in a noisy frenzy.
The rest of the lionesses of the pride lay scattered around the
palm trees, carefully watching the two young intruders, making
sure that they did not approach too closely and threaten the cubs.
Although he was preoccupied and did not notice the proximity of
the two youngsters, when the two young males realised the presence
of the Duba Boy, they slowly turned around and made their way towards
the buffalo herd peacefully grazing in the distance and, as always,
accompanied by massive flocks of Cattle Egrets and Wattled Starlings.
Their time will come but they'll have to be patient?
With the thunderstorms building up in the distance, the migrant
birds have arrived on the Plains: flocks of Carmine Bee-eaters
nesting on the sand banks, Yellow-billed Kites floating across
the grassland and the Woodland Kingfisher bringing the woodland
alive with his strident and repetitive call. Night drives are still
having regular sightings of the denning aardwolves and two adorable
young as well as a bat-eared fox family and their pups also seen
at the den site.
update - November 06 Jump
to Vumbura Camp
The Vumbura Concession sighed with relief as the first
thunderstorm hit, and a week later new growth was pushing through
transforming the area into a lush Eden. Grazing conditions have become
optimal this month providing antelope and elephant with full bellies.
The meat eaters have also been successful this month, leading to
some fantastic sightings.
It is the time of the year for babies!
Most herbivores have given birth by now, making the Vumbura Concession
look like a huge wildlife crèche
filled with over energetic little figures exploring their new world.
The wild dogs were sighted by only made one appearance in November. 13
wild dogs were spotted not far from Vumbura Plains. They were actively
hunting until they managed to take down two impala. After they had
completed their meal they took the rest of the day off and napped under
some Apple Leaf Trees for the afternoon. The next morning they disappeared
without a trace.
The lions have also given birth to cute little bundles of joy. We have
seen the females on many occasions carrying the cubs tenderly between
their jaws. It's amazing to think that these jaws can help in taking
down large prey, but are also used to tenderly carry their offspring.
Nature is amazing; One day we found the lions on a tsessebe kill, quite
an achievement, considering that they are the fastest antelope in Africa.
Regular sightings at the den site are still very good. The pups are getting
bigger by the day but they are still as playful as ever. Hyaena sightings
around camp are a daily occurrence, as they seek any morsel the kitchen
has failed to nail down to the floor. One particular individual seems
to have become addicted to candles!
Great month for cheetah, sightings average around 4 per week. The old
male still roams the area patrolling his territory. A female and her
two sub-adult cubs have also been spotted regularly. But we are not
the only creatures interested in cheetah. One afternoon we found a
male cheetah resting on a termite mound being carefully watched by
a large African Rock Python. A highly unlikely pair!
Once again these creatures have not let us down. We had great sightings
throughout the month, with kills up trees and hunting scenes taking
place. These animals appear to completely ignore the game drive vehicles
and carry on with their daily routine, providing us with fantastic
insights on their daily lives. It is great to have them this relaxed
but yet still not crossing the boundary between us and them in nature.
Sable antelope are seen in large numbers, one herd numbering 17 individuals.
Bat-eared foxes and aardwolves have been spotted this month as well.
It is the time of plenty and all animals are well-fed and in great
condition. Most of the rainwater pans are full, providing the water
fowls with an aquatic heaven in which to frolic.
Camp Newsletter - November 06 Jump
Although we had 89mm of rain during the month of November
(including a half hour cloud burst that delivered 28mm),
the Makuleke region of Kruger National Park is still
very dry and in desperate need of more strong showers,
especially the northern and central areas of the concession.
The good news however is that this year - in contrast
to 2005 - no matter how high the temperatures have risen,
the Luvuvhu River has continued to flow and some of the
areas along its banks have remained quite lush and green
attracting various herbivores. The main access road to
camp for example frequently hosts herds of zebra, waterbuck,
kudu, and nyala feeding peacefully around camp.
Oh! I nearly forgot the impala ewes and their brand
new lambs. These little guys are starting to pop up everywhere
now and I find it quite entertaining just sitting quietly
and watching them from a distance running around on their
spindly little legs. The other good news is that the
Limpopo has started flowing again and is already way
past Crooks Corner. This area where the Luvuvhu meets
the Limpopo is looking stunning. It's great as well to
have the woodland kingfisher back once again. His beautiful
call can be heard almost constantly throughout the concession.
2/11. Our guests were treated to a fantastic sighting
of a cheetah kill on Pafuri Main.
08/11. New male lion mating with a female on our airstrip.
11/11. An eastern tiger snake was sighted at the entrance
to the lodge.
13/11. We had a sighting of a red backed shrike on the
camp access road.
22/11. Can you believe this? We had 6 sightings of the
rare three-banded courser in one day.
25/11. Ground hornbill sighted flying on the southern
side of the Luvuvhu. The sighting was from the main deck
of the camp.
29/11. Our guests that day were treated to an excellent
sighting of a python killing a baby impala.
29/11. Birders were treated to a sighting of a racket-tailed
29/11. Kenny (our Head Chef/Kitchen Manager) and I had
an excellent sighting of an old male lion marking his
territory on the Pafuri Camp access road.
As mentioned above mammal sightings continued to be good
this month. We continued to see elephant although in
lesser numbers than the dry months of September and
October, the various buffalo herds remain resident
and aside from the more commonly encountered species
such as zebra, wildebeest, common duiker, steenbok,
kudu, nyala and so on, we also enjoyed sightings of
some rarer species: Sharpe's grysbok, eland, and cheetah.
We recorded 227 species this month. Highlights and returning
migrants included: Woodland Kingfisher, Racket-tailed
Roller, Red-backed Shrike, Three-banded Courser, Ground
Hornbill, Common House Martin, Narina Trogon, European
Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested
Cuckoo, European Honey Buzzard, Black-breasted Snake
Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black-headed Oriole, Crimson-breasted
Shrike, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike. The well known birding
team from the Kruger Park - The Four Gauls - completed
their twentieth consecutive Big Birding Day in the
general area and managed to equal their best result
of 255 species in a 24-hour period.
Average minimum temp: 21°C. Average maximum temp:
37°C. Rainfall 89mm.
Bay Turtle News - November 06 Jump
If you thought October was a
great month for turtle sightings, you won't believe what November
had in store for us. From the first moment of the first drive,
we were not disappointed.
The drive on
the 1st of November departed at 17H30, in the early evening.
Andrew, who was guiding the research drive that night, had the
Dyjas family from Russia, and Mr. and Mrs. Baines as well, as
Mr. and Mrs. Everitt on his vehicle. Well, it was their lucky
night! Exactly at pole 100, which is at the very end of the research
area at Mabibi, a little loggerhead emerged from the ocean. As
Andrew tagged her with tag number ZA RR508, our guests looked
on in total awe of this amazing occurrence happening before their
eyes. After Andrew finished tagging her, he took her measurements,
which were 81cm long by 69cm wide - a real little lady. Mr. and
Mrs. Baines and Mr. and Mrs. Everitt, who have been lifelong
friends, decided to adopt her to remind them of their experience
on the beach that night, and now this little loggerhead goes
by the name Eleanor.
On the 6th of November, we had our first leatherback turtle
sighting, and of a turtle that we have seen many times before.
This leatherback was originally tagged on the 6th of December
2002. She once again came back to nest last season, on the 3rd
of November 2005, where Gugu got to tag her with number PP622.
Incredibly, she has returned this year, although without a tag.
Mbongeni identified her via the microchip and then re-tagged
her with the tag number ZA RR506. Seeing this turtle has made
us realise how important the microchips are in the research that
we do at Rocktail. If we did not have that little bit of information,
we would never have known this particular turtle's history, therefore
losing out on important information. This is what research is
On the 21st of November, we had another very special Leatherback
come up onto the beach. The reason we say she is special, is
because of the tag number, ZA YT057, which she has attached to
her, not because she has been adopted (yet!). For those of you
that don't know, from the 1st of March 2006 until the 28th of
February 2007, is the Year of the Turtle. Countries bordering
the Indian Ocean have made an agreement called The Indian Ocean
South East Asian Memorandum of Understanding for the conservation
of marine turtles and their habitats. There are over 25 countries
involved in the agreement, South Africa being one of them. The
theme of this project is to cooperate to conserve marine turtles
- our ocean's ambassadors. So, this particular tag number is
the marking of the Year of the Turtle, therefore being a turtle
that nested in the 2006-2007 turtle nesting season, and only
a handful of tags have been made with the letters ZA YT. For
more information on this special year please visit www.ioseaturtles.org/yot2006
We also had a very old visitor come back and visit us again
this month. She was one of the first loggerhead turtles to be
adopted, in the 2002-2003 turtle nesting season, and she goes
by the name Kimberley. Her tag number is BB471, which means she
was tagged in 1991, which is almost 15 years ago. We cannot tell
you what a wonderful feeling it is, seeing a turtle of this age
come back again and successfully nest. She looks in great health,
and she measured 87cm in length and 79cm wide.
The largest leatherback of the month has to
go to the newly adopted turtle named Kimi, who was adopted
by Brian and Colleen Roberts. She was seen successfully nesting
on the 25th of November 2006, on Lala Nek beach just after
midnight. Gugu tagged her with the tag number ZA RR537, and
also took her measurements, which are an amazing 1.7m in length,
and 1.2m wide. That's one big "Mamma!"
The busiest nights out of the month were those of the 28th and
the 29th of November. We documented over 30 different turtle
tracks over those two nights. Unfortunately, not so many sightings,
but the turtles had already been up, nested and gone back down
to the water.
Well, as you can see, we have had another fantastic month. It
can only get better, as December is the busiest time for mother
turtles and is renowned for the large number of turtles seen.
Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed festive season,
Andrew, Shannon, Simon, Steve, Glenda, Gugu, Mbongeni and the
Rocktail Bay Lodge Team
Bay Dive Newsletter - November 06 Jump
Another month of great diving has gone by with a range of
different weather and sea conditions. It began with sunny weather
and flat seas, followed by alternating cloudy and rainy days
with more sunny days. We had three days of 1.5 to 2m swells
but after that the conditions improved dramatically. Sea temperatures
were fairly constant throughout the month at 23 to 25 degrees
Celsius with only two days of 21 degrees. The viz. this month
has varied from an average of 12 to 18m and up to a wonderful
25 to 30m.
Clive and Darryl explored a new, small reef inshore of the
northern end of Aerial. It is a thin ledge at a maximum depth
of 8m. There was a potato bass, a lot of eels and a couple
of honeycomb rays scattered around the ledge on the sand. The
whole reef was covered in small sweepers and sprats, with lots
of tomato rockcod guarding them from marauding blue spotted
kingfish. It is a perfect reef for new divers and those who
have not dived in a while.
On the same day we had a great sighting of a tiger shark approximately
3.5m in length. All the divers were engrossed by a huge honeycomb
eel and were unaware that the shark was watching them. It was
only when the shark realised it had been spotted that it slowly
moved off. This sort of sighting is a reminder to have a good
look around you while diving and not just focus on the reef
- we could have missed seeing a spectacular shark. The tiger
shark wasn't the only shark we spotted this month. The month
began with a beautiful leopard shark, lying on the sand, at
Elusive and later in the month we saw a scalloped hammerhead
swimming on the surface. The first raggie of the season also
arrived at the cave behind Island Rock! Hopefully the forerunner
of many more!
"Great snorkelling, turtle, dolphins and raggie." Malcolm,
Humpback season is just about over but the sightings continue,
whales breaching out at sea and groups with moms and babies
still heading south.
We've have had wonderful sightings of Loggerhead, Hawksbill
and Green turtles. Some were seen swimming off into the distance,
others fast asleep on the reef and then there are the ones
that swim right up to you to investigate. These tend to be
the males, as they seem to get much more inquisitive at this
time of year because they are waiting to mate with the females
before they come in to lay their eggs!
Summer brings the big rays and this month we have seen huge
honeycomb rays at Pineapple Reef which seems to be their favourite
reef at the moment. Elusive has produced sightings of spotted
eagle rays and on one particular dive we looked up from the
reef and saw four devil rays swimming overhead in formation.
These are often mistaken for baby manta rays because their
cephalic fins or 'horns' protrude in front of their open mouths
and their silhouette when seen from below looks the same. They
are seen somersaulting out of the water and there are many
theories regarding this behaviour, some believe that they use
this technique for hunting or for removing parasites from their
skin - perhaps they are just jumping for joy!
There have also been a lot of moray eels; huge honeycomb eels
seen swimming out in the open; much smaller geometric, starry
and black cheek eels peering out of holes and ledges in the
reef. At Brewers Garden we saw a snowflake eel sharing a hole
with a smaller geometric eel.
For those that like to look for the little fish, a visit to
Aerial is always worthwhile: a variety of paperfish, in various
shades of camouflage; green, yellow and white; tiny ghost pipefish
as well as blue banded pipefish; and the highlight on this
reef - pineapple fish. There are currently two of them, one
approximately 5mm in length and the other 2.5cm.
Last but not least, we have the month's dolphin sightings.
On the one day we snorkelled with a group of 40 to 50 bottlenose
dolphins. Duncan's holiday was made when he got to snorkel
with these dolphins twice. On a separate occasion we came across
a group of 15 to 20 bottlenose dolphins playing in the waves.
They came right up to us to investigate and play with us even
though the boat wasn't there. One in particular kept coming
back to circle with Michelle and Karin as they swam down to
the reef below.
"Four fantastic dives, swam with dolphins, excellent!
Will be back for more!" Pierre, Adele, Willem and Debra,
Wishing you all a wonderful festive season,
Yours in diving,
Darryl, Clive, Michelle and Karin
The Rocktail Bay Dive Team
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