Monday, February 18, 2008

Port Elizabeth Raggies Still Keep PE divers on their toes

Mark and I went out for a dive towards Sundays River mouth. There are a few long ledges there - they run parrallel to the sand dunes on the shore. The areas we were diving were about 2 km out and in 14-19 m of water. There was nice thermocline 1-2 m off the bottom. On my spotdive to check the viz I got a jut jaw (milkfish) and we anchored the boat.

A milkfish is excellent eating - they eat small krill-like shrimps.

On my next dive I filmed myself spear a geelbek of cape salmon. As I swam up there was a heavy thud in the water - these thuds are rather well known to me - either a huge fish or a big shark makes such a sound as its muscles flex pushing the tail against the water. I surfaced and checked with Mark.
On the surface Mark was not happy at all. He had had a direct contact with a raggy (sand tiger). See Youtube clip below for his tale.

I did a few more dives with my camera and heard thumps again. Mark was understandably enjoying the view from the boat and saw raggies right up on the surface twice. They are known to gulp air to adjust buoyancy. This was not the best omen as the midwater, through which we passed twice on each dive, was dirty - 2 to 3m before the thermocline with 4-5m viz.

I decided to jab the raggy a few times to encourage it to move. Next down I found the raggie - a good 2.8 m long and thickset too - quite impressive.
I swam nearer and delivered a hard thump to it on the head avoiding the eye. It turned away snapping weakly at the time before idling off as if nothing happened. I did not feel excessively successful in getting it to move off. On my next dive with Mark right behind me I heard a muffled squawk and immediately a heavy thump again. Mark had tried to tell me I was going down right next to a raggie I did not see, hence the squawk. I did one more dive and got a last fish - after a mini situation conference on the boat we decided to move as we wasted too much effort scanning for approaching raggies and it appeared a bit risky.

Now Murphies law says that the anchor should get stuck, which of course it did. I had not had a rough-raggy-encounter yet so I volunteered to dive down and loosen the anchor. Sure enough as I unhooked the anchor the same raggie was there yet again along with reinforcements; another smaller shark was heading in faster toward me. I swam up scanning the water above so as not to swim into one.
We moved off to another spot 300 m off. First dive I met a beast of a raggie and jabbed at it but it sensed my action and turned away at the last minute.

Frustrated in our efforts we moved to other areas with no significant catches.

So it was a fun, rather defencive dive with no good big fish.

Here I interview Mark on the boat about teh raggy:


Silverback said...

Come May with the Nationals at Sodwana, how do you feel about the Zambies and Tigers? At Vidal we had a really nasty incident with a Zambie. Ended up having to dispatch it with a powerhead. I am not in favour of killing sharks when I can get back onto the boat, but this bastard came in so quickly, the boat just could not get to us in time.

Gletwyn Rubidge said...

Zambies I approach to show(or fake) no fear - they have always backed off.
Tigers - sadly I have not yet enountered one. Having kept my ears open many divers on Aliwal continue to dive and spearfish in their presence - I would do the same in clear water.
Why not describe the incident - I could say what action I think I would take.