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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Star Wall

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The dive site Star Wall is a offshore rocky reef wall in the Karbonkelberg headland area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand

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Map of the dive site Star Wall.

This site was first recorded in March 2006. It is the tallest and longest wall known in the Cape Town area and is a dive site well worth visiting.

Position

S34°02.466' E18°18.087' (Shallowest point)

About 200m roughly south west of the offshore rock at Duiker Point.

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

The south east face of Star Wall

Name

The name "Star Walls" was probably chosen with reference to the adjacent site "Kanobi's Wall", as an allusion to the movie series "Star Wars", and to the vertical granite cliff face that constitutes the site. The site was discovered and named by BlueFlash charters in 2006.

Depth

Maximum depth at the base of the wall is 32m, and the top of wall is at approximately 8m. The pinnacle on top of the rock is at about 5m


Topography

A massive and continuous almost vertical granite wall of about 25m height, extending for a length of approximately 100m west to east on the south face, with an extra 50m on the south-east face. The bottom of the wall is on sand amongst large boulders and relatively low outcrops further to seaward. The western end of the wall makes a sharp turn towards the north, and the top is deeper in this area. The rock of the wall is fractured by a number of joints which have weathered to form crevices and small undercuts. These joints are mostly vertical and horizontal, and a few are fairly deep indented, providing more protected local micro-environments, and which typically are more heavily encrusted with invertebrates.

The wall is the south and deepest face of the huge outcrop, and the north side is more indented and broken up, and slopes down less steeply, to a depth of more than 15m. Caves and swimthroughs have been reported from this area. The reef is continuous to Kanobi's wall to the north.

The south east face is also a wall, and is separated from a somewhat lower outcrop by a fairly narrow gully with a slightly shallower bottom, which slopes up to the north east.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton.

Conditions

The site is exposed to south westerly swells, which can produce a strong surge over the top of the wall. At times there is a slight current along the wall, which has been known to run opposite to the prevailing south easterly wind. The water will usually be cold. Conditions suitable for diving this site will be most common in summer, but any time when the south westerly swell is weak may be suitable, though visibility may be unpredictable in winter.

This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by the south easterly wind, and resulting in cold clear water, which may develop a plankton bloom over a few days which will reduce visibility again


Get in

The site can only be accessed by boat. It is about 6.6 km from Hout Bay harbour.

See

Small basket star on a nippled sea fan
Lace false coral with Gas flame nudibranch
Mandela's nudibranch
Pair of cuttlefish
Sumo crab wearing a Green moon sponge hat for protection
Reef scene at Star Wall

Marine life

Typical of the big reefs of the Atlantic coast. Heavy growth of red bait and kelp on top. Walls, crevices and overhangs are covered with a large variety of sponges, corals, ascidians and other sessile invertebrates, and a host of small mobile critters, many of them well camouflaged.

Features

The longest and highest unbroken wall dive known in the Cape Peninsula.

Photography

This is a great site for invertebrate photography. Macro and wide-angle equipment are most suitable.

Routes

Find out which way the current is running (if any) and drop in on top of the wall. Swim over the edge and descend to the depth of your choice. Start deep and work your way up, inspecting the various zones and working your way along the face with the current. The site is quite long, so a DSMB will alert the boat to your position when ascending.

Stay safe

Hazards

The site is in a very exposed area and one should not dive there if there is big swell or strong wind. Skippers beware of the pinnacle as it breaks unexpectedly if there is swell or a low tide. Other hazards are cold water and strong surge especially around the pinnacle. Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.

Skills

Ability to deploy a DSMB is useful, good buoyancy control is essential.

Equipment

A DSMB is useful if you surface away from the shot line. Nitrox can significantly extend your dive time if you are well insulated, and a dry suit is recommended as the water will be cold.

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