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Difference between revisions of "Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Atlantis Reef"

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===Position===
 
===Position===
* Approximate position S34°15' E018°29'  
+
* Approximate position Pillars of Hercules: S34°15' E018°29'  
 +
<!--Pillars of Hercules: S34°15.075' E018°29.027' -->
 +
<!--Santorini pinnacles: S34°15.037' E018°28.928' -->
 +
  
 
<!--Bearings:  
 
<!--Bearings:  
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<!--[[Image:Image of whatever the site is named after.jpg|thumb|Caption]]-->
 
<!--[[Image:Image of whatever the site is named after.jpg|thumb|Caption]]-->
  
<!--===Name===
+
===Name===
The name site name was chosen by the first divers to report diving at the site. It is named after the legendary lost continent of Atlantis from Greek Mythology.
+
The site name was chosen by the first divers to report diving at the site. It is named after the legendary lost continent of Atlantis from Greek mythology.
  
 
===Depth===
 
===Depth===
 
Maximum depth is about 29m at the eastern limit of the reef, and the top of the highest pinnacle is about 4m deep. Average depth on the immediately adjacent reef is likely to be about 20 to 25m.
 
Maximum depth is about 29m at the eastern limit of the reef, and the top of the highest pinnacle is about 4m deep. Average depth on the immediately adjacent reef is likely to be about 20 to 25m.
  
<!--===Visibility===
+
===Visibility===
comment on visibility to be expected-->
+
Visibility can vary like any other dive site in the area, but in diveable conditions is likely to be between 5 and 10m, and on a very good day, up to 20m. It is generally similar to, but often not quite as good as visibility on the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks
  
 
===Topography===
 
===Topography===
The site is dominated by a pair of massive pinnacles, which rise from a jumbled mass of boulders below 18m to within 5m of the surface. The tops of the pinnacles are quite small and pointed, and are probably in the order of 3m diameter, but they spread out to 15 to 20m with roughly rectangular plan at 12 to 15m depth. On the northern side of the southernmost pinnacle is a large overhang. The granite floor between the two pinnacles has a deep crack in it, and to the offshore side of the pinnacles, there is a complex swimthrough formed by jumbled boulders. There is a ledge to the north at about 18m, and a number of very large boulders in the immediate vicinity. There is sand nearby to the south.
+
The site is dominated by a pair of massive pinnacles, which rise from a jumbled mass of boulders below 18m to within 5m of the surface. The tops of the pinnacles are relatively small and rounded, and are probably in the order of 3m diameter, but they spread out to 15 to 20m wide with roughly rectangular plan at 12 to 15m depth. These have been named the "Pillars of Hercules, in keeping with the Greek mythology theme. On the western and southern sides of the eastern pinnacle there is a large overhang. The granite base between the two pinnacles has a deep crack in it, and to the offshore side of the pinnacles, there is a complex swimthrough formed by jumbled boulders. There is a ledge to the north at about 18m, and a number of very large boulders in the immediate vicinity to the north. A fairly large rock with a pointed top at about 17m known as the "Fang" stands a few metres to the east of the pinnacles. It is shaped a bit like a large canine tooth. There is sand a few metres to the south of the pinnacles at about 24m depth.
  
 
To the east of the pinnacles the reef edge comprises medium to large outcrops of granite corestone, with sand between them in the gaps. The reef tends to get lower to the north and more broken to the north west, where large areas are quite low and made up of small boulders and low outcrops.
 
To the east of the pinnacles the reef edge comprises medium to large outcrops of granite corestone, with sand between them in the gaps. The reef tends to get lower to the north and more broken to the north west, where large areas are quite low and made up of small boulders and low outcrops.
 +
 +
South east of the pinnacles there is a large outcrop a few metres high which has a dense growth of Sinuous, Flagellar and Palmate gorgonian sea fans. 
 +
 +
150m on a bearing of 145&deg;magnetic from the western pillar, there is another somewhat lower pinnacle, rising to 10m depth. This and the smaller pinnacle another 30m to the west have been named the "Santorini pinnacles". They are not as spectacular as the Pillars of Hercules, but are a good divesite in themselves, with plenty of steep walls and overhangs to shelter the reef life.
  
 
'''Geology:'''
 
'''Geology:'''
Pre-cambrian granite of the ''Peninsula'' pluton.
+
Pre-cambrian granite of the ''Peninsula'' pluton, with fine silica sand in the deeper areas and around the reef.
  
 
<!--Use the gallery ONLY if there is more than one image required for this section: Try to use three to keep it neat -->
 
<!--Use the gallery ONLY if there is more than one image required for this section: Try to use three to keep it neat -->
Line 48: Line 55:
 
<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">
 
<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">
 
Image:Top of 4m pinnicle Atlanits 2 WEB.jpg|Top of the pinnacle at 4m depth
 
Image:Top of 4m pinnicle Atlanits 2 WEB.jpg|Top of the pinnacle at 4m depth
 
+
Image:View up to the boat at the Atlantis Reef pinnacles PA157811.JPG|Looking up to the boat from about 12m deep at one of the pinnacles
 +
<!-- Image of some other topographical feature of interest -->
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
 
===Conditions===
 
===Conditions===
<!--The site is exposed to (weather/sea condition), so should be dived in (weather/sea condition), and is often good in (weather/sea condition). The site is reasonably protected from (weather/sea condition), but if (weather/sea condition occurs) then (response to weather/sea condition)-->
+
The site is often at its best during or after a westerly wind, but may be good even during an easterly if it is not too strong and the swell has not built up yet. Surge may be considerable in long period swell even if low.  
  
<!--The site is (usually) at it's best in (season1) but there are also occasional opportunities in (season2) and (season3).-->
+
The site is exposed to south east wind and waves, and is moderately exposed to south westerly swell, particularly long period swell, which bends round Cape Pointthough Atlantis is not far to the north of the reefs at [[Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Partridge Point|Partridge Point]], and they provide some protection from south-westerly swell. The site is usually at its best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring, and sometimes even in summer a good day may occur.  
 +
 
 +
Look for days when the forecast is for swell from the west, or low swell from the south-west. This can often occur just before a cold front gets to the peninsula, and in these cases the weather is often mild, even sunny, and with little wind in the day or two before the front arrives. During the passage of the front, the weather is generally windy, overcast and frequently rainy, but may still provide very good diving if the wind is not too strong for the boats to operate, as it will be offshore until the front has passed.
 +
 
 +
After the front has passed, in winter one can expect a day or two of good diving before the next front. In summer, a front is commonly followed by strong south easterly winds, which kick up an unpleasant short onshore chop which makes the boat ride uncomfortable and messes up the visibility.
  
<!--This is an area which sometimes has (special circumstance), caused by (condition1), resulting in (condition2)-->
 
  
 
<!--===Classification==-->
 
<!--===Classification==-->
Line 65: Line 76:
 
This is a boat access dive site. It is technically possible to dive it from the shore, but there would be a long steep climb down from the road to the shore on a slippery path, followed by a long surface swim. Then you would have to find the site, which in itself is not easy.
 
This is a boat access dive site. It is technically possible to dive it from the shore, but there would be a long steep climb down from the road to the shore on a slippery path, followed by a long surface swim. Then you would have to find the site, which in itself is not easy.
  
At present (September 2011) only <see name="Animal Ocean" alt="Steven Benjamin" address="" directions="" phone="0794885053" url="www.animalocean.co.za" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""></see> have the exact GPS co-ordinates for the pinnacles.
+
At present (October 2011) only <see name="Animal Ocean" alt="Steven Benjamin" address="" directions="" phone="0794885053" url="www.animalocean.co.za" hours="" price="" lat="" long=""></see> and Blue Flash charters have the exact GPS co-ordinates for the pinnacles.
  
<!--The site is about (distance)km from (usual harbour or launch site), or (distance)km from (alternative launch site or harbour)-->
+
The site is about 3.2km from [[Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Miller's Point slipway|Miller's Point slipway]].
  
 
==See==
 
==See==
<!--[[Image:(photo of typical marine organism from site)|thumb|(caption)]]-->
 
  
 
===Marine life===
 
===Marine life===
The marine life is extensive and varied. At the tops of the pinnacles and extending to about 12m is a heavy covering of red bait with both knobbly and false plum anemones living in between them. Descending the pinnacles, the more delicate invertebrates take over and the pinnacles' lower sections are densely covered with bryozoans of at least five different species, and a heavy covering of multicoloured seafans. Between the pinnacles is usually found a school of several species of fishes: blacktails, hottentots, fransmadam and zebras. Nudibranchs such as the black, the crowned and gasflames are common on the pinnacles, with the occasional sighting of smaller nudis such as the orange-eyed nudi and the white-edged nudi.
+
[[Image:Atlantis fish school.jpg|thumb|The resident fish school at the pinnacles]]
A school of janbruins can be seen in the cracks between the pinnacles as well as truly enormous romans.
+
The marine life is extensive and varied. At the tops of the pinnacles and extending to about 12m is a heavy covering of red bait with both knobbly and false plum anemones living in between them. Descending the pinnacles, the more delicate invertebrates take over and the pinnacles' lower sections are densely covered with bryozoans of at least five different species, and a heavy covering of multicoloured seafans. Between the pinnacles is usually found a school of several species of fishes: blacktails, hottentots, fransmadam and zebras. Moderate numbers of bank steenbras have been seen on the western part of the reef. Nudibranchs such as the black, the crowned and gasflames are common on the pinnacles, with the occasional sighting of smaller nudis such as the orange-eyed nudi and the white-edged nudi.
 +
Janbruins can often be seen in the cracks between the pinnacles, and there are somevery large Roman.
  
As the pinnacles join the sand the more horizontal parts of the reef become covered with red-chested sea cucumbers, strawberry polyp anemones and nippled sea fans.
+
Where the reef at the base of the pinnacles meets the sand to the south, the lower parts of the reef are covered with red-chested sea cucumbers, strawberry anemones and nippled sea fans.
Moving north from the pinnacles and into the section of jumbled boulders is a luxuriant seafan forest, consisting of palmate, sinuous and whip seafans. The usual assortment of invertebrates associated with seafans can also be found: topshell snails, hermit crabs and basket stars in number. Continuing north to a lower profile reef section is more seafan forest but this has been overwhelmed with hairy brittlestars so that it resmbles an afghan rug. The sand at about 29m seems to be a shyshark nursery because many small puffadder shysharks can be seen here.  
+
North from the pinnacles in the jumbled boulders is a luxuriant seafan forest, consisting of palmate, sinuous and whip seafans. The usual assortment of invertebrates associated with seafans can also be found: topshell snails, hermit crabs and basket stars in abundance. Further north on a lower profile reef section there is more seafan forest which is sometimes overwhelmed by hairy brittlestars to the extent that it resmbles an afghan rug. The sand at about 29m seems to be a shyshark nursery because many small puffadder shysharks can be seen there.  
 
Interestingly, the site also features an unusual number of dark shysharks, more usually seen on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.
 
Interestingly, the site also features an unusual number of dark shysharks, more usually seen on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.
<!--[[Image:(photo of typical feature from site)|thumb|(caption)]]-->
 
  
<!--Use the gallery ONLY if there is more than one image required for this section: Try to use three or multiples of three to keep it neat -->
 
<!--
 
 
<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">
 
<gallery widths="180px" heights="120px" perrow="3">
 +
Image:Basket star Astroclaus euryale 002.jpg|Juvenile basket star on sinuous seafan
 +
Image:Strawberry anemones Corynactis annulata.jpg|Strawberry anemones
 +
Image:Bonisa nakaza005.jpg|Gasflame nudibranch
 +
Image:Lacy false coral at Atlantis Reef PA157784.JPG|Lacy false coral is very fragile
 +
Image:Shoal of Hottentot between the pinnaclea at Atlantis reef PA157819.JPG|Shoal of Hottentot seabream between the pinnacles
 +
Image:Striped anemones on red bait pods PA157871.JPG|The tops of the pinnacles are covered with large red bait pods
 +
Image:Bell_stalked_jellyfish.jpg|The rare bell stalked jellyfish, ''Lipkea stephensoni''
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
-->
 
  
 
===Features===
 
===Features===
 
Notable features of the site, apart from the Pillars of Hercules include the systems of swimthroughs formed by the jumbled boulders at the base of the site and the site's overall topography. Fang-shaped boulders, vertical cracks, embayments of sand, small drop-offs and overhangs are all worth viewing.
 
Notable features of the site, apart from the Pillars of Hercules include the systems of swimthroughs formed by the jumbled boulders at the base of the site and the site's overall topography. Fang-shaped boulders, vertical cracks, embayments of sand, small drop-offs and overhangs are all worth viewing.
<!--other features of note, eg caves, wrecks, anything that a diver might consider a reason to dive the site other than marine life-->
 
  
 
<!--Use the gallery ONLY if there is more than one image required for this section: Try to use three  or multiples of three to keep it neat -->
 
<!--Use the gallery ONLY if there is more than one image required for this section: Try to use three  or multiples of three to keep it neat -->
Line 100: Line 113:
 
<!--What kind of photography is likely to produce good results-->
 
<!--What kind of photography is likely to produce good results-->
 
<!--Recommendations for photographic equipment: Lens angle, lighting etc.-->
 
<!--Recommendations for photographic equipment: Lens angle, lighting etc.-->
The site has only been dived in conditions of good visibility, and some good wide angle scenic shots were taken. The reef life is diverse and prolific, and there are opportunities for both macro photography of benthic organisms, and wide angle photos of the shoals of small fish.
+
Good wide angle scenic shots can be taken in conditions of good visibility. The reef life is diverse and prolific, and there are opportunities for both macro photography of benthic organisms, and wide angle photos of the shoals of small fish.
 +
The site has been praised as a photographic destination by several notable local underwater photographers, and frquently features on the Facebook site "Underwater Cape Town".
  
 
===Suggested Routes===
 
===Suggested Routes===
Line 107: Line 121:
 
No special routes are known at this stage, but the pinnacles are the highlight of the site, and the dense gorgonian forests on the edge of the reef slightly to the south east of the pinnacles are well worth a visit. The area near the pinnacles appears to be the most topographically interesting, so explore the area, and let us know what you find.
 
No special routes are known at this stage, but the pinnacles are the highlight of the site, and the dense gorgonian forests on the edge of the reef slightly to the south east of the pinnacles are well worth a visit. The area near the pinnacles appears to be the most topographically interesting, so explore the area, and let us know what you find.
  
One route worth trying is to drop in at the southernmost pinnacle, descend vertically to 23m, then to turn north along the reef edge, heading through a small swimthrough and pass the fang-shaped rock towards the seafan forest. Since this is relatively deep (around 26m) depending on your mix, it might be worth while heading back towards the pinnacles either on the inshore side, which has many jumbled boulders to explore, or else on the offshore side until reaching the gap between the pinnacles. Swim inshore through this, under the overhang and then head south. Look out for the vertical crack and janbruin school in it, as well as the resident roman. There are overhangs and swimthroughs to explore and a narrow overhang at about 18m on the inshore side of the southernmost pinnacle which seems to attract many fish. Ascend the wall of the southernmost pinnacle.
+
#One route worth trying is to drop in at the south side of the Pillars, descend vertically to 23m, then to swim east along the reef edge, through a small swimthrough and past the fang-shaped rock to the seafan forest. Since this is relatively deep (around 26m), depending on your mix, it might be worth while heading back towards the pinnacles either on the northern side, which has many jumbled boulders to explore, or else on the southern side as far as the gap between the pinnacles. Swim through this, past the overhang. Look out for the vertical crack and the janbruin often seen in it, and the resident roman. There are overhangs and swimthroughs to explore and a narrow overhang at about 18m on the side of the pinnacle which seems to attract many fish. Ascend on the wall of one of the pinnacles &mdash; They are shallow enough to do a safety stop on top if there is not too much surge.
 +
#If you like a bit more of a navigational challenge, you can try swimming to the Santorini pinnacles to the north west. Either start at the western Pillar, and swim on a bearing of 325&deg; magnetic for 150m, or follow the southern reef edge from the Pillars to the west up a sandy gap which goes about 50m into the reef, then carry straight on (north) another 25m.
 +
 
 
==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
 
===Hazards===
 
===Hazards===
No special hazards known.
+
No special hazards are known.
  
 
===Skills===
 
===Skills===
No special skills required. Certification to dive to the depths found at the site would be expected, but parts of the site are within the depth range appropriate for entry level divers.
+
Certification to dive to the depths found at the site would be expected. Parts of the site are within the depth range appropriate for entry level divers, but not very much, and because the site is so pristine, it is recommended that entry level divers and others with imperfect buoyancy control avoid diving there.
  
 
===Equipment===
 
===Equipment===
No special equipment required.  
+
No special equipment required. Divers who intend to explore beyond the vicinity of the pinnacles are advised to deploy a DSMB at the end of the dive so the boat can see where they will be ascending.
  
===Warning===
 
Because the site is so pristine, it is recommended that entry level divers with imperfect buoyancy control avoid diving there.
 
  
 
Back to [[Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Partridge Point area]]
 
Back to [[Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Partridge Point area]]
  
{{outline}}
+
{{guidetopic}}

Latest revision as of 17:25, 1 May 2012

The dive site Atlantis Reef or Pillars of Hercules is an offshore rocky reef in the Finlay's Point area of the Castle Rocks Restricted area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand[edit]

Map of the dive site at Atlantis Reef
One of the "Pillars of Hercules" pinnacles


Atlantis reef is a section of the granite reef of the Castle Rocks restricted zone, so the marine life has been protected for many years and is flourishing. There is no record that the site has been dived in the past, so it is in pristine condition. The two massive pinnacles marking the site and known as the Pillars of Hercules, were known to exist for some time, as they occasionally show up on the echo sounder of passing boats, but they are a really small target and difficult to find again. However in early September 2011, the dive boat Animal Ocean started investigating the site and reported an exceptionally beautiful area of reef with two impressive pinnacles reaching nearly to the surface but with very small peaks, so they do not break very often, and are in any case to some extent in the lee of the Seal Rock at Partridge Point. Further exploration revealed that the surrounding reef includes some areas of high profile reef near the pinnacles, and further offshore, and extensive low profile and broken reef further inshore.

The first GPS survey of the reef places it on one of the sections identified by the Council for Geoscience side-scan survey of 2011.

Position[edit]

  • Approximate position Pillars of Hercules: S34°15' E018°29'



This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. It is entirely inside the Castle Rocks Restricted Zone, so no fishing of any kind is permitted.


Name[edit]

The site name was chosen by the first divers to report diving at the site. It is named after the legendary lost continent of Atlantis from Greek mythology.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is about 29m at the eastern limit of the reef, and the top of the highest pinnacle is about 4m deep. Average depth on the immediately adjacent reef is likely to be about 20 to 25m.

Visibility[edit]

Visibility can vary like any other dive site in the area, but in diveable conditions is likely to be between 5 and 10m, and on a very good day, up to 20m. It is generally similar to, but often not quite as good as visibility on the Smitswinkel Bay wrecks

Topography[edit]

The site is dominated by a pair of massive pinnacles, which rise from a jumbled mass of boulders below 18m to within 5m of the surface. The tops of the pinnacles are relatively small and rounded, and are probably in the order of 3m diameter, but they spread out to 15 to 20m wide with roughly rectangular plan at 12 to 15m depth. These have been named the "Pillars of Hercules, in keeping with the Greek mythology theme. On the western and southern sides of the eastern pinnacle there is a large overhang. The granite base between the two pinnacles has a deep crack in it, and to the offshore side of the pinnacles, there is a complex swimthrough formed by jumbled boulders. There is a ledge to the north at about 18m, and a number of very large boulders in the immediate vicinity to the north. A fairly large rock with a pointed top at about 17m known as the "Fang" stands a few metres to the east of the pinnacles. It is shaped a bit like a large canine tooth. There is sand a few metres to the south of the pinnacles at about 24m depth.

To the east of the pinnacles the reef edge comprises medium to large outcrops of granite corestone, with sand between them in the gaps. The reef tends to get lower to the north and more broken to the north west, where large areas are quite low and made up of small boulders and low outcrops.

South east of the pinnacles there is a large outcrop a few metres high which has a dense growth of Sinuous, Flagellar and Palmate gorgonian sea fans.

150m on a bearing of 145°magnetic from the western pillar, there is another somewhat lower pinnacle, rising to 10m depth. This and the smaller pinnacle another 30m to the west have been named the "Santorini pinnacles". They are not as spectacular as the Pillars of Hercules, but are a good divesite in themselves, with plenty of steep walls and overhangs to shelter the reef life.

Geology: Pre-cambrian granite of the Peninsula pluton, with fine silica sand in the deeper areas and around the reef.


Conditions[edit]

The site is often at its best during or after a westerly wind, but may be good even during an easterly if it is not too strong and the swell has not built up yet. Surge may be considerable in long period swell even if low.

The site is exposed to south east wind and waves, and is moderately exposed to south westerly swell, particularly long period swell, which bends round Cape Pointthough Atlantis is not far to the north of the reefs at Partridge Point, and they provide some protection from south-westerly swell. The site is usually at its best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring, and sometimes even in summer a good day may occur.

Look for days when the forecast is for swell from the west, or low swell from the south-west. This can often occur just before a cold front gets to the peninsula, and in these cases the weather is often mild, even sunny, and with little wind in the day or two before the front arrives. During the passage of the front, the weather is generally windy, overcast and frequently rainy, but may still provide very good diving if the wind is not too strong for the boats to operate, as it will be offshore until the front has passed.

After the front has passed, in winter one can expect a day or two of good diving before the next front. In summer, a front is commonly followed by strong south easterly winds, which kick up an unpleasant short onshore chop which makes the boat ride uncomfortable and messes up the visibility.


Get in[edit]

This is a boat access dive site. It is technically possible to dive it from the shore, but there would be a long steep climb down from the road to the shore on a slippery path, followed by a long surface swim. Then you would have to find the site, which in itself is not easy.

At present (October 2011) only Animal Ocean (Steven Benjamin), 0794885053, [1].  edit and Blue Flash charters have the exact GPS co-ordinates for the pinnacles.

The site is about 3.2km from Miller's Point slipway.

See[edit][add listing]

Marine life[edit]

The resident fish school at the pinnacles

The marine life is extensive and varied. At the tops of the pinnacles and extending to about 12m is a heavy covering of red bait with both knobbly and false plum anemones living in between them. Descending the pinnacles, the more delicate invertebrates take over and the pinnacles' lower sections are densely covered with bryozoans of at least five different species, and a heavy covering of multicoloured seafans. Between the pinnacles is usually found a school of several species of fishes: blacktails, hottentots, fransmadam and zebras. Moderate numbers of bank steenbras have been seen on the western part of the reef. Nudibranchs such as the black, the crowned and gasflames are common on the pinnacles, with the occasional sighting of smaller nudis such as the orange-eyed nudi and the white-edged nudi. Janbruins can often be seen in the cracks between the pinnacles, and there are somevery large Roman.

Where the reef at the base of the pinnacles meets the sand to the south, the lower parts of the reef are covered with red-chested sea cucumbers, strawberry anemones and nippled sea fans. North from the pinnacles in the jumbled boulders is a luxuriant seafan forest, consisting of palmate, sinuous and whip seafans. The usual assortment of invertebrates associated with seafans can also be found: topshell snails, hermit crabs and basket stars in abundance. Further north on a lower profile reef section there is more seafan forest which is sometimes overwhelmed by hairy brittlestars to the extent that it resmbles an afghan rug. The sand at about 29m seems to be a shyshark nursery because many small puffadder shysharks can be seen there. Interestingly, the site also features an unusual number of dark shysharks, more usually seen on the Atlantic side of the peninsula.

Features[edit]

Notable features of the site, apart from the Pillars of Hercules include the systems of swimthroughs formed by the jumbled boulders at the base of the site and the site's overall topography. Fang-shaped boulders, vertical cracks, embayments of sand, small drop-offs and overhangs are all worth viewing.


Photography[edit]

Good wide angle scenic shots can be taken in conditions of good visibility. The reef life is diverse and prolific, and there are opportunities for both macro photography of benthic organisms, and wide angle photos of the shoals of small fish. The site has been praised as a photographic destination by several notable local underwater photographers, and frquently features on the Facebook site "Underwater Cape Town".

Suggested Routes[edit]

No special routes are known at this stage, but the pinnacles are the highlight of the site, and the dense gorgonian forests on the edge of the reef slightly to the south east of the pinnacles are well worth a visit. The area near the pinnacles appears to be the most topographically interesting, so explore the area, and let us know what you find.

  1. One route worth trying is to drop in at the south side of the Pillars, descend vertically to 23m, then to swim east along the reef edge, through a small swimthrough and past the fang-shaped rock to the seafan forest. Since this is relatively deep (around 26m), depending on your mix, it might be worth while heading back towards the pinnacles either on the northern side, which has many jumbled boulders to explore, or else on the southern side as far as the gap between the pinnacles. Swim through this, past the overhang. Look out for the vertical crack and the janbruin often seen in it, and the resident roman. There are overhangs and swimthroughs to explore and a narrow overhang at about 18m on the side of the pinnacle which seems to attract many fish. Ascend on the wall of one of the pinnacles — They are shallow enough to do a safety stop on top if there is not too much surge.
  2. If you like a bit more of a navigational challenge, you can try swimming to the Santorini pinnacles to the north west. Either start at the western Pillar, and swim on a bearing of 325° magnetic for 150m, or follow the southern reef edge from the Pillars to the west up a sandy gap which goes about 50m into the reef, then carry straight on (north) another 25m.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

No special hazards are known.

Skills[edit]

Certification to dive to the depths found at the site would be expected. Parts of the site are within the depth range appropriate for entry level divers, but not very much, and because the site is so pristine, it is recommended that entry level divers and others with imperfect buoyancy control avoid diving there.

Equipment[edit]

No special equipment required. Divers who intend to explore beyond the vicinity of the pinnacles are advised to deploy a DSMB at the end of the dive so the boat can see where they will be ascending.


Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Partridge Point area

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