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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Dale Brook

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The dive site Dale Brook is a shoreline rocky reef in the Kalk Bay area on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

This is the closest site for road access from most of the city on the east side of the peninsula, and is also accessible by rail (Dale Brook station).


Understand

Aerial view showing the location of Dale Brook dive site. (Photo CDS&M)

This site is well known in the scientific literature for a large variety of species, and it has been a sanctuary zone for a long time, but is seldom dived by sport divers. It is ideal as a snorkel site due to the shallow depth and large variety of reef life, and is a very pleasant scuba dive in calm conditions.

Position

S34°07.436’ E018°27.154’ (Subway under railway line)

The site is off the rocks just south of the tidal pool.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.

Name

The site is named after the locality "Dale Brook", as is a road and the railway station.

Depth

Maximum depth is approximately 6m. This is over the sand and some way out. The end of the reef can be seen from the shore if conditions are good, as this is where the kelp ends.


Topography

Low and fairly flat sandstone reef. Reef is steep sided and flat bottomed, mostly bedrock with occasional boulders. Fairly free of sand in the inshore areas, but sand bottomed further out. Beyond the reef the sand starts fairly abruptly, with a few outlying outcrops, and is consistently fine and fairly white, with small wave ripples and lots of vent holes. The outer reef may be coated with fine sand, which is easily lifted due to the small grain size.

Geology: Rock is hard light brown Ordovician sandstone, either of the Peninsula formation, or possibly the underlying Graafwater formation. Strike is about parallel to the shoreline (roughly NE-SW), dip a few degrees to the south east. The layers not very thick, mostly in the order of 1/2 to 1m. Jointing is predominantly perpendicular to shoreline.

Conditions

The site is exposed to south easterly wind and waves. The site is usually at it's best during winter but there may also be occasional opportunities at other times of the year.

Keep a lookout for times when it is calm or the wind is north westerly with minimal swell. The site is shallow and any swell will cause a surge, though the kelp will have a moderating influence.

Avoid diving this site if there is a south east wind forecast, as the chop may make it tricky to get out safely.


Facilities

Parking at tarred parking lot just beyond the changing rooms at the side of the Main Road (M4), next to the railway line. There is a subway under the railway line leading to the beach. Public toilets and changing rooms are accessed from the subway. There is a fresh water shower at the beach and a large tidal pool.

Get in

The entry at Dale Brook is from the rocks in the middle of the photo.

Normally done as a shore dive. Entry and exit is from the flat rock shelf south of the storm-water outfall. Details will depend on the tide, but there is a lone boulder which may be convenient for final preparations.

Access is fairly easy in conditions you would want to dive. If the surf looks too big, there will be strong surge and poor visibility.

See

Marine life

The reef is very rich in variety, even shallow and close to the shore. It is surprisingly colourful, and well illuminated due to shallow depth and lack of suspended matter. There are quite a lot of kelp fronds surging back and forth, but the stipes make useful handholds to steady yourself in the surge. It ia also a site where a lot of marine life can be observed in the rock pools at low tide


Photography

The site is suitable for macro photography.

Routes

Wade out over the rocks to water deep enough to swim and start the dive when deep enough to avoid the worst of the wave action. Work your way slowly out deeper towards the sand, then along reef edge for a while before turning back and returning over the reef, mostly in the gullies.

Stay safe

Hazards

No special hazards other than sea conditions, and the possibility of an encounter with a great white shark.

Skills

No special skills required. This is an excellent site for novice snorkellers, and should be good for night dives if the sea is very flat. It ia also an area where a lot of marine life can be observed in the rock pools at low tide

Reasonable fitness is required for shore entries. Some familiarity with surf entries is recommended.

Equipment

No special equipment recommended. A light may be useful for looking under overhangs, but there are not many deep ones.

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