Aliwal Shoal - South Africa
One of the most popular diving sites in South Africa, the Aliwal Shoal lies just off the coast of Umkomaas, a small coastal town on the warm, subtropical KwaZulu-Natal coast.
The reef got its name from a ship by this name, which almost collided with the reef in 1850. Its captain, Captain James Anderson, sent a warning to other seafarers about the "very large and dangerous rock, or shoal, with heavy breakers" to which he could find no reference in any seafaring manuals.
· Umkomaas: Situated about 50km from Durban, Umkomaas is a lovely town, surrounded by a sea of green sugar cane fields. Stunning (sharknet-protected) beaches, a balmy climate and excellent diving make this a favourite destination for weekenders. It is also the launch site for diving operators going to the Aliwal Shoal.
Location: Aliwal Shoal lies approximately 3km off the coast of Umkomaas, on the inner edge of the warm Mozambican current, often providing excellent visibility.
The Shoal: A submerged, sandstone reef, which has proven fatal to many seafarers. Wrecks of ships like the Nebo and the Produce (which sank in the 19th century) provide an interesting underwater landscape and have become home for many marine creatures.
Dive paradise: Divers at Aliwal can expect to see a huge variety of fish, endangered sea turtles, rays, mantas, dolphins, whales as well as sharks. There are over 1200 fish species. Most divers however, come to dive with Ragged Tooth Sharks or "Raggies" as they are affectionately called. These sharks look fierce, but are gentle by nature, becoming aggressive only when provoked. Swimming freely among them is a highlight for many divers.
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