Saturday, 2 November 2013

Diving at Nosy Be


Nosy Be is a 312 km2 island located 8km off Madagascar's north-west coast in the Mozambique Channel, generally considered to be Madagascar's major tourist and main diving destination (there are 17 dive clubs located in and around Nosy Be). I've written a separate blog post about visiting Nosy Be in general.

photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland

We chose to visit Nosy Be in October as we'd heard that we had a chance of seeing whale sharks. We chose to dive with Nosy Be's (Madagascar's?!) only British-owned and run dive club: Coral Diving. Due to personal vacation constraints we were there during the second week of October although the whale shark season is mainly late October to early December.  However we were in luck and on our second day of diving we got to spend an hour swimming with this majestic animal.





We were very lucky because before our first dive we'd already seen a humpback whale, and during our surface interval en route to our second dive site we saw (bottlenose?) dolphins. Not long before seeing the whale shark we then saw some very big dolphins whose behaviour was quite different to other dolphins. We distinctly saw one swimming about with a fish in its mouth. It turns out that these were rare false killer whale dolphins (also known as pseudorca) and they have been known to approach and offer fish they have caught to humans who are diving or boating. You can see them in this video we filmed:


The previous day we had started our Nosy Be diving with two dives in the Nosy Tanakely Marine Reserve. Nosy Tanakely is a tiny island a few miles off the coast of Nosy Be. A good dive profile meant we were able to have dives which lasted 80 minutes! We saw pufferfish, turtles, lionfish, moray eels, a ribbon eel, and batfish being cleaned by wrasse.

We saw lots of blue-spotted rays when diving at Nosy Tanakely
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

The dive just before seeing the whale shark was at a dive site called Manta Point, about 14km from the coast. Unfortunately we didn't see any mantas, but we had a dive with flawless visibility, even at a depth of 24 metres. We saw lots of groupers, unicorn fish, and some garden eels.

(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

giant clam, Manta Point
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

trumpet fish, Manta Point
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

through a looking glass ...

The dives on our third day's diving were at Sakatia Grotto and Fusilier. Nosy Sakatia is a 3km2 island which lies just off the coast of Nosy Be. Both dives were 20-25m deep. At Fusilier we briefly saw a white-tip reef shark, and an (inoffensive) jellyfish during our safety stop.

grouper, Sakatia Grotte
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

diving with bannerfish, Fusilier
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

On all our Nosy Be dives we saw a wide range of brightly-coloured nudibranches, some of which I had never seen the like before.

nudibranch, Fusilier
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

Crocodile fish, Fusilier
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

Sweetlips, Fusilier
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

On our final day we started with a small wreck dive. The dive site is called Chameau ('camel') and is also about 14km off the coast of Nosy Be. We saw lobsters, turtles, and lionfish and went to a depth of about 30 metres.

wreck of a small fishing trawler on which we dived

nudibranch
(photo © Raquel & Oscar Gomez-Eerland)

nudibranch
(photo © Richard Swatman/Coral Diving Madagascar)

this was not our dive boat!


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