Often described as one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations, Sodwana Bay is home to a plethora of rewarding dive sites. Reefs are named according to their distance from the launch site and include Quarter Mile, Two Mile, Four Mile, Five Mile, Six Mile, Seven Mile, Eight Mile, and Nine Mile. Each one is a kaleidoscope of colour, relying upon the sturdy structures of hard corals and soft corals, the life support of an entire ecosystem. Cascading clouds of snappers cut drift through the midwater whilst the cleaning stations and “apartment blocks” of the reef bustle below, teeming with tropical life. In total, Sodwana Bay is home to more than 1,200 species of marine life including: five kinds of sea turtles; three species of dolphins; numerous rays and sharks; and many large hunters such as tuna, kingfish/trevallies and groupers. Seasonal visitors include whale sharks; manta rays; and the pregnant Ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias Taurus) in the summer, and Southern Right (Eubalaena Australis) and Humpback whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) in the winter. In addition to its thriving marine life, Sodwana Bay also boasts the ideal conditions for scuba diving almost all the time. Water temperatures are warm throughout the year (Highest 29C – End of Feb & Lowest 20C – End Of August) with the visibility seldom falling lower than 15m (and often more than 20m). The current tends to be moderate, generally flowing from North to South, following the Agulhas stream, making almost all dives in Sodwana a form of drift dive, meaning very little swimming is required. Furthermore, the surf launch here is less extreme than it is at dive sites located further down the coast, the bay is quite often deemed “Lake Sodwana” by good spirited locals on beautiful days.
There are sites to suit divers of all experience levels. From shallow, sandy sites for beginners to the Underwater Canyons (e.g. Jesser & Wright), where the depths challenge even the most experienced technical divers and some have come face-to-face with Sodwana’s legendary living fossils, the Coelacanths. The only prehistoric lobed-fin fish known to the human race. This living dinosaur has survived over 350-400 million years at the bottom of the ocean, evading human detection for centuries until more recently.
Kingfish are lean, mean killing machines with a taste for the little guys… small fish, crustaceans, there’s not many species who are safe! This family are clearly crafted killers, with deeply forked tails and sleek bodies which cut through the water with incredible speeds and agility.
The Big Bullies of the Reef, Rockcods take no hostages and answer to no fish… These relatively larger fish all have large pectoral fins and a squarer (truncate) tail fin with a MASSIVE mouth providing obvious fish swallowing advantages. Often seen forming nuclear hunting teams with Moray Eels and Kingfish, these fish mean business. Many species are seen perching on the reef, watching and waiting before: “SNAP!”
Goodbye poor little Deborah the Dory!
Snappers are nocturnal hunters which stick together in large groups of up to 300 individuals during the day for safety in numbers, swimming into the current to conserve energy. Thus creating mind-blowing clouds of shimmering yellow scales and fins hanging in the mid-water column above the bustling metropolis of the reef below.
How do I differentiate snappers from fusiliers I hear you ask! There are 2 easy ways to tell the difference. Snappers’ eyes are quite visibly above the middle of their body whereas fusiliers’ eyes are inline with the midline. The second telltale sign is the tail. Snappers’ tail fins are mainly squared (truncated) or slighly forked (emarginate). Fusiliers, on the other hand, have much deeper forked and thinner tails
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Siso Dwana Lodge, A1103 Road,
Hillside Qongwana Reserve,