Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Out of South Africa.

So far so good.

Diving has not been that great - so far.

On the other hand meeting old friends, and having made some memorable new acquaintances, has been so good for the soul:

First and foremost "Jifa", also known as Jean-Francois Avenier, who invited me to be his guest during my first week in South Africa; his 15-month old fabulous husky, "Machin", with whom I immediately fell in love; Andre Hartman, the legendary Great White Sharkman, a towering man with huge hands and a huge heart; the Addisons of Blue Wilderness; Fred Buyle and William Winram, world-class freedivers with impressive achievements; and others.

Two old shark-nut farts: Andre Hartman and Wolf.
Photo: Jean-Francois Avenier

Jifa, who is a good friend of Andre, arranged for a one day marine excursion in the larger Gaansbai area to observe great whites. Andre managed to
attract four beauties close to the boat; their sizes ranged between 1,60 and 3 meters, the largest being a self-confident and dominant male. Too bad we could not swim with them.

"Better than nothing..."
Photo: Jean-Francois Avenier

There are severe restrictions on diving with great whites in South Africa; not only that - we were in an area where abalones are protected, and no one can dive there for any purpose whatsoever.

As anywhere else in the world, Sou
th African government officials only complicate the lives of others, not theirs. Thus, they simply established that merely carrying basic diving equipment in your boat proves you automatically guilty of suspected poaching with heavy fines and even jail terms.

We had two sub-standard days at Aliwal Shoal with 3 to 5 m visibility and just one tiger shark. However, this female tiger was "Sabine", an Aliwa
l Shoal resident shark during the past eight years except for the last two years she spent elsewhere. To see her back "home" filled us with joy.

While "Sabine" fared well, many others did not. Far too many tiger sharks have either been killed by local fishermen who fear and hate sharks, or met their untimely deaths in the infamous shark nets placed along the beaches of Kwa Zulu Natal.

Tomorrow, March 25, we are planning a trip to the Protea Banks, famous for its bull sharks. I have never dived with bull sharks, and am quite excited about the prospect of seeing them. As you can imagine, we all cross our fingers and hope for the best: Best visibility, best bull interaction, best everything!!

Last, but definitely not least................................

Photo: Jean-Francois Avenier


Kim said...

So how do you suggest that the SA government regulate the illegal poaching of abalone? What makes you different from any other diver or poacher out there? Would you like US-style racial profiling? I know of a number of white divers who take abalone (admittidly for their own use) I find sometimes you make selfish statements that insuate that you're better and therefore should receive different treatment. This is not so. I'm cancelling my following of this blog as I don't believe that you have anything constructive to say.

Felix Leander said...

Hi Kim - sad to see you go. Think there was some misunderstanding in what was posted and what you interpreted - or not. Anyway, should you like to contribute a constructive post to this blog we are more than happy to consider...

Wolfgang Leander said...


I don't know what you are talking about - but that doesn't reflect on you. I am probably too dumb to get what you mean.

Did I say I wanted to poach? What makes me "no different from any other poacher"?

What I do understand, however, is that you seem to have a problem with "race". Where did I make a reference, openly or implicitly, to "racial profiling?.

Go well, Kim, and get a life.

Kim said...

The statement I am refering to is this one:
"As anywhere else in the world, South African government officials only complicate the lives of others, not theirs."

Having basic diving equipment on your boat could mean that you're a poacher, or it could mean that you're just diving. Guess which argument the poachers use? The Govt is trying to save the marine life in the area - and kudos to them for doing so, but you've decided to make disparaging statements about how it impacts your own pleasure.
How would you suggest they tackle this problem? Racial profiling is how the US have addressed the "flying terrorist problem" and we've seen how sucessful that one is.

Felix Leander said...

What does government have to do with race? And the reference is to all governments...not just the SA one...

As you said - you should stop this blog (like your comments) is anything but constructive.

As for protecting marine life - why does South Africa still have sharks nets?????