Two Oceans Aquarium dive

Big Blue

Diving in the new Ocean exhibit was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.

Photography: Guido Schwarz

The Black Musselcracker eyeballs me in what I can only interpret as disgust. I think he knows. I must say, I feel much less guilty walking past some cows, grazing in the veld. Despite loving steak. Diving in the Two Oceans Aquarium’s new sea-water tank, I am conscious of having enjoyed a Yellowtail ceviche starter and some tuna sashimi not too long ago. And I have seen Musselcrackers and some of his kinfolk on braais before.

Luckily he seems docile and not intending on cracking any of my vulnerable parts, while I am under water. I think the aquarium visitors would have enjoyed a spectacle like this. As I am currently part of the exhibits swimming around.
While I like the giant guitar fish, the striped bonito, the blue stingray and the green sea turtles very much, I absolutely adore Yoshi, the loggerhead turtle. She was confiscated from a fishing trawler in Table Bay Harbour in 1997, after having been caught in their net. At the time she was about the size of a seafood platter, pardon dinner plate. Now, she weighs a proud 160kgs and is the main attraction in the tank.
I haven’t dived in years, but I immediately remember how magical it feels. After doing a refresher in a pool, Iain, the dive master accompanied me into the new 6m deep tank. Bearded Iain reminds me of a rugged seafarer, a bit of Viking with some Captain Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean flair thrown into the mix. You couldn’t ask for a better diving buddy. His calmness makes you relax immediately. As the resident dive master for the last ten years in the aquarium, he also offers a one-day Discover scuba course there.
In June 2016 the predator tank closed down for renovations and the resident rugged tooth sharks were released into the ocean. The four (harmless to humans) raggies are now living around Mossel Bay, East London and Durban. The tank will be re-opened at the beginning of 2018 as a dedicated shark exhibit with a brand new name.
At the time the one closed, the I&J Ocean Exhibit, which currently contains me, some fish and turtles, opened. It contains 1.6 mio. litres of sea water, pumped from the harbour and heated to about 20 to 23 degrees. The tank is 6m deep. And the mighty main viewing window is 9m wide and 4m high, weighing 22 tons. It’s not made of glass, but 30cm thick acrylic, which has the advantage of enabling distortion-free viewing into (and out of) the tank.
Unfortunately my oxygen is getting low and we have to conclude this magical under water experience. Musselcracker, I promise, it’ll only be chips tonight.

Info:

Two Oceans Aquarium
www.aquarium.co.za

Dive Master: Iain N. Robertson
www.iainsscubaschool.co.za

A one-day Discover scuba course costs R700.
The refresher for divers, who didn’t dive for a while is R400.
The tank dive is R790 with aquarium gear, R600 with own gear.