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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Fan Reef

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The dive site Fan Reef, also known as Fantastic Reef, is a small offshore rocky reef in the Castle Rocks area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Understand

Map of the dive site Fan Reef.

The site has a large concentration of Gorgonian sea fans

Position

S34°14.165' E18°29.260'

The site is about half way between Miller's Point and Castle Rocks and is at the 30m depth contour. It is about 1.1 km from the shore directly to the west. North Fan Reef is about 100m to the north of Fan Reef across the sand.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is entirely inside the Castle Rocks Restricted Zone.

A Palmate sea fan at North Fan Reef.

Name

The reef was originally named "Fan Reef" for the large numbers of gorgonian sea fans found there. The alternative name "Fantastic Reef" is based on the original name.

Depth

The bottom is at about 30m on the sand to the east of the reef at high tide. The top of the pinnacles to the south east is at about 19m deep at low tide


Topography

Fan Reef is the southernmost sector of the Fan Reef complex, it is a small granite corestone reef of fairly large outcrops, some of which are quite high, and some low. This section of the reef area is more or less contiguous. There is a small cluster of pinnacles in the south eastern part of this sector, which rise from the sand at about 28m to about 19m, but much of the reef is lower, and most of the edge is between 1 and 2m above the sand.

A short distance away to the north west, across a narrow sand belt, and visible from Fan Reef in good visibility, is a patch of low and fairly broken reef, the North West sector, and further north again is North Fan Reef. Most of this patch appears to be lower than 2m above the sand, and much of it below 1m.

North Fan Reef is granite reef of outcrops and boulders of about 10m maximum height, and up to about 20m long. Rugged terrain, with lots of gulleys and steep walls and quite a few overhangs. There is a small swimthrough, probably on the west side, just above the sand.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton

Conditions

The site is moderately protected from south westerly swell. South east chop may make it unpleasant on the surface, but it may be quiet below the wave base. Generally considered a winter dive site but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring.


Get in

Access to this site is only practicable by boat. The distance from Miller's Point slipway is about 1.8km.

See

Marine life

The site is notable for a variety of gorgonian sea fans, Sunburst soft corals, striped and strawberry anemones, Basket stars, feather stars, sea cucumbers, coralline algae, encrusting sponges, urchins, colonial ascidians and a few species of nudibranch. You may also see Horsefish, Barred fingerfins and Shy sharks.


Photography

The site is fairly deep. Natural light will usually be poor, so a flash will be necessary. There will usually be enough particulate matter in the water to necessitate an external flash for all except close up work. Macro and wide angle lenses will usually provide good results. Subject size will range from a few millimetres to about a metre.

Routes

No routes recommended, the reef is quite small and may be comprehensively visited on a dive. Spend some time on the sand at the edge of the rock, and work your way up to the higher parts, to see the widest variety of sea life.

Boats should not anchor on the reef, and shotlines should be dropped a few metres off the reef on the sand.Divers can move the shot to within sight of the reef if they intend to return to it to surface

Stay safe

Hazards

No site specific hazards have been reported.

Skills

Appropriate certification for the depth is expected. No special skills are required, though bouyancy control and finning skills should be adequate to avoid damage to the sea fans and other sensitive organisms.

Equipment

No special equipment required. A DSMB and reel are recommended in case it is necessary to surface away from the shotline.

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