Diving Aliwal Shoal/Cathedral
The dive site Cathedral is an offshore rocky reef with coral on the Aliwal shoal, near Umkomaas in the Kwa-Zulu-Natal province of South Africa.
This is one of the deeper reef sites at Aliwal, and is quite spectacular.
The site can only be accessed by boat. It is site is about 7.2km from the launch site at Mkomazi river mouth.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.
Maximum depth is about 29m. and the top of the surrounding reef is about 24m.
Visibility may exceed 15m
Cathedral is a big roundish hole in the reef with a rock bridge over one side. The hole is several metres deep and maybe 20m wide. Rocky reef to north gets shallower in places.
Various fish and reef invertebrates: Raggy or tasseled scorpionfish, Paperfish, Yellowmouth moray, Salt and pepper moray, Honeycomb moray, Goldie, Striped eel-catfish, Domino, Coachman, Emperor angelfish, Halfmoon rockcod, Whitespot butterflyfish, Clown triggerfish, Yellow snappers. Encrusting hard corals, Staghorn hard corals, Branched black corals, Red sea fan with purple polyps, Yellow whip coral, Branching soft corals, Green tree coral, Thistle soft coral, Striped and spotted anemone, Orange lacy false corals, Lacy white bryozoans, Dead man's fingers, Peacock mantis shrimp, Cleaner shrimps, Lobster, Blue-green sponge, Brown wall sponge, Grey volcano sponge, Yellow tip granular stars, Light brown starfish, Brown feather stars, Brown and orange spiky starfish, Nudibranchs, Spanish dancer,
Big round pothole at the edge of the tabular reef, with a stone bridge on the east side.
Follow the divemaster.
There may be sharks, as this is one of the main attractions of Aliwal Shoal, but the ragged tooth shark is not considered a significant hazard to divers if not startled. If there are sharks in the amphitheater area, do not enter as they will be chased out
As the site rests below 18m a PADI Advanced Diver or equivalent certification is required
No special equipment required. A DSMB may be useful if you have to ascend away from the dive leader.
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