Not everyday does one have a chance to swim with endemic seahorses, observe a sleeping octopus and witness a cuttlefish hunting at night. It would be hard to beat such a day, yet everyday so much happens! each morning brings something unexpected, each day is a new adventure and we continuously learn new things.
You would think that each of those incredible moments has its own price. To spot colourful nudibranchs you NEED to rent an expensive diving equipment and go with a dive master. To see a hunting cuttlefish at night? You surely need a guided tour, a boat and powerful spotlights. That is what most people think, and why most people pay expensive prices for those things. Yet we managed to avoid that by buying simple masks and snorkels, talking to locals and simply going for it. We had no idea that the biodiversity of Knysna lagoon was so high.
Going to the Thessen island during a low tide was a great idea. When other guests were busy eating expensive punches we wondered off to the quayside to learn about marine life. Just lying down on a jetty and staring into the shallow water we were able to see some amazing estuarine creatures. Mum spotted an octopus that floated next to the wire mesh stabilising the bank. It then faded and blended into the background. A few minutes later it appeared, as if from nowhere and smoothly swam away into the deeper, darker water. We put our masks and snorkels, climbed down the wall and submerged ourselves in the cold and murky water. Although we did not have wetsuits, we were so excited to get into the water and look around with our new masks, that it took us a while to get cold. And among all the other beautiful marine life, we saw what we looked for. The Knysna seahorses. We didn’t want to disturb them, thus decided to not stay for long.
So here you are, local dive school. Managed to not spend a fortune on something that did not require expensive gear rental.
The night excursion – the trio of aspiring scientists, nature lovers and curious observers: mum, jake and me packed head lamps,masks and wet suit shoes and left to seek yet another adventure. We walked through the old knysna railway bridge that used to help people commute between the two parts of the estuary and now serves as a perfect fishing spot. About half way through we walked down into the rocks and searched for signs of life. What an abundance of animals did we find in just 3 meters of shore! Starting from colourful crowned nudibranches, ascidians squirting water (a few of the times straight onto our faces/lamps), dwarf cushion starfish, barnacles, mussels, spiky starfish, numerous little fish and ending on a sleeping octopus, hiding under a rock jus half a meter from the shore. But the true discovery was seeing cuttlefish hunting for little silver fish. A predator so perfectly camouflaged, so fast and accurate, that would earn everyone’s respect. After a lot of wooows, aaaas and ‘look here’ sounds, our headlamps started to fade out and we decided to come back home and dream about cuttlefish and other exciting sitings of the day.