2020-08

In Memory of Erich Ritter

30.8. 2020 Lockdown day soandso

Beulah and i woke up this morning to the sad news that our friend, colleague, mentor and client Erich Ritter has passed away.

Erich has given his whole life for the protection and science of sharks. Not seldom did he end up in hot water with people and institutions because not many knew sharks as well as he did. And he understood the emergency surrounding their survival.

Erich got it !!!  

We appreciated Erich. We knew where he was coming from and on a personal level we simply just loved Erich.

Every time he came to Margate and dived with us, every year we saw each other at the BOOT Show in Germany we were highly excited to see each other and chat about sharks and private things.

Our biggest wish was Erich would come and spend a month or two with us on Protea Banks just for fun.

Exactly a week ago i sent him a WhatsApp asking how he was doing during this Corona times. He told me, his heart stood still a couple of weeks ago and is not working at 15% capacity. He knew he would never dive with sharks again but he was hopeful that a pacemaker would at least get him back on his feet.

Unfortunately it came too late…so, so sad….

Spike

25.8. 2020 Lockdown Day 152

We just have three full days of diving behind us.
Wasn’t easy to get into the swing of things but it is possible.
Sunday we met at 8 to pick up the boat and the divers at 9.
The weather was magic and the dives really good.
Vis 15m
Great Hammerhead
School of scalloped hammerheads
Zambezi and Raggies

By the time we packed everything away it was 16h00.
So we decided to go an hour earlier yesterday and today. This meant getting out of the sack at 6…. damn.
Normally we do coffee in bed at 7 and blankets up at 8…
Yesterday i installed the shark listening station for the Sharks Board’s scientists.
Vis was below 10m and i usually have to look for the station as we don’t normally dive past this one.
So i went on my own while Karen was leading the divers.
Bit of a mission to carry the iron pole around at 35m depth in bad vis but i managed.
Afterwards i went to the second cave and played around there until my bottom time was up.
I must say, i love being on my own on Protea Banks.
Pure Magic.

Natal Shark's Board
Ragged Tooth Shark
Protea Banks

Today the visibility was much better again. Almost 25m
First dive was at the first cave.
We saw a big bull shark on the way down , couple of raggies and a nice tiger shark.
Second dive we started at the second cave and swam slowly to the first cave.
We had two (!!!) tiger sharks, a smaller one and a huge mama.
A yawning black tip and another zambezi.
I’ve got to say, great dives like this just stick with one !!! Definitely a Happy Maker

Tomorrow 40 knot South West wind. Typical for this time of the year.

Looks like we anger at home for the rest of the week.

20.8. 2020 Lockdown Day ...whatever...

Roland Mauz

So since yesterday we are in lockdown level 2.
That is actually very encouraging because it means everyone is allowed to work again,
the bars and restaurants are open again, the alcohol and tobacco prohibition is over and we are allowed to travel throughout the country again.
That means the one who still has money …
In addition to a few smaller restrictions of phase 2, the national borders are still closed.
Nobody knows how long. It can change quickly, or it can drag on until next year.
I guess it depends on the rest of the world.
But it looks pretty hopeless right now …
We don’t go diving too often because now the Wind season has started.
The wind blows almost every day.
One day from the left = north-east, then from the right = south-west.
Most of the time we have 25 to 35 knots of wind with 3 to 5 meter high waves.
Normally we are on vacation at this time of year … somewhere on a quiet island …
This year we are going on vacation in our own home … that is also an island of calm in a certain sense … (when I’m not being scolded …)
We booked a couple of divers, all of them locals, of course.
I do not hold my breath for it because at this time of the year the wind constantly throws a spanner at us.
On Saturday a diver will come from Johannesburg for 4 days. One diver !!!
That doesn’t cover the fuel and I can’t let them sit either.
Luckily we still have 2 rescue students who also have to go into the water. Then it works.
Sunday and Monday look pretty good so far ..
My new website gives me a lot of work/ headaches.
It will be ready soon, but I still have to upload all the photos from all of my news entries.
That means, from 2009 to today every picture from every year, month and day …. oh man.. !!!
First I need to drag the photos from this website to my desktop.
Then each picture must be scaled down and given a name.
Then I go to the program on the new website.
While this website is running on another computer, I look for the text passages where I have to insert the respective picture.
Grandpa … I don’t think I’ll be able to do all of this in the rest of my lifetime …

 

Suddenly we see a whale above us. Awesome !!!
I turn on the camera and swim towards the animal. If I just could just get the silhouette of it, I’ll be satisfied.
It works out. Happy !!!
No question about it, we are all absolutely thrilled.

We continue diving and less than 5 minutes later a whale comes up to us again.
Man !!! That’s impossible.

The enthusiasm increases. That’s amazing.
Shortly afterwards another humpback whale. This time super close to us.
The camera is running.
We are at a depth of 10m, unfortunately the view is cloudy with about 10m-12m vis.
In the beginning there are three humpback whales. Then two disappear and one remains.
This animal is completely relaxed.
It rolls around us in the water in the truest sense of the word.
The whale plays and what a huge creature it is! Man … I’m totally exhausted
The game goes on. We never tire of the whale.
There is no longer any sign that we can give ourselves underwater to express our enthusiasm.
Boy, boy, boy
Then it comes from above, then from the front, then it rolls and then does a somersault.
And all in front of us 6 divers !!!
The best thing is, we have two AOWD students with us. On their last course dive they see tiger sharks and play with humpback whales !!!
Jeez, what else can they experience ???
We surface after 50 minutes. No more air, no more strength.
Infinitely enthusiastic, there are no words that can describe it.
The whale stays until we are on the boat and leave.
I wait at the surface until everyone is on the boat.
A Giant Petrel joins me.
The bird is right in front of my nose. No fear.

What an unforgettable day !!!!

10.8. 20 Lockdown Day 137

So, I calmed down again and slept well.
After a day like yesterday … dude !!!
And here’s the story:

These days, Spike and I meet at the divers villa just after 8 a.m. to pack and pick up the boat.
Our divers, whoever comes along, will meet us by boat in front of the shop in Shelly Beach.
Everything is then assembled there and loaded onto the boat.
Then briefing and then we drive to the port.
That’s just the way it is at the moment because of the fucking virus.
At the port, we put on our suits, fill out a thousand Corona forms and push the boat into the water.
Let’s go to the north side of Protea Banks.
It is a wonderful winter day with an air temperature of 29˚C and only a light breeze.
Visibility is about 10m + above and 20m + below. Water temp 21˚C
We dive and of course see next to the usual raggies that are in and around the caves at this time of year – believe it or not – two tiger sharks again !!!
I even filmed it with the GoPro, but because it is set to wide angle you only see a blurry silhouette.
Nevertheless, in reality the tigers were close enough to us that everyone could see them and recognize them as tigers.
The emergence was pretty calm with a black tip shark or two keeping us company from time to time.
Then it goes back to the boat for the surface interval.
We are absolutely thrilled. Great dive. !!!
While we sit out for an hour we see whales wherever you look.
Within a minute we would have easily counted 50 pieces.
Mother and calf come near us, the calf is about the size of a dolphin.
It must be a very young calf that was recently born.
So cute !!! It romps around in the water like a baby.
Then it comes down to where do we do the second dive? Salmon reef again?
Fuck it all. I want to see sharks and so I’m manipulating the democratic election on the north side of Protea Banks.

Clear.
After an hour we dive down and Zack … again a tiger shark …
After we were at the second cave we start our ascent.
I still think so, age only 20 minutes past and now another 20 minutes without much hope for action …
Suddenly we see a whale above us. Awesome !!!
I turn on the camera and swim towards the animal. If I just put the silhouette on it, I’ll be satisfied.
It works out. Happy !!!
No question about it, we are all absolutely thrilled.
We continue diving and less than 5 minutes later a whale comes up to us again.
Grandpa !!! That’s impossible.
The enthusiasm increases. That’s amazing.
Shortly afterwards another humpback whale. This time super close and close.
The camera is running.
We are at a depth of 10m, unfortunately the view is cloudy with about 10m-12m
In the beginning there are three humpback whales. Then two disappear and one remains.
This animal has absolute calm.
It rages around us in the water in the truest sense of the word.
The whale rules and what a huge creature it is! Dude … I’m totally exhausted
The game goes on. We never tire of the whale.
There is no longer any sign that we can give ourselves underwater to express our enthusiasm.
Boy, boy, boy
Then it comes from above, then from the front, then it rolls and then does a somersault.
And all in front of us 6 divers !!!
The best thing is, we have two AOWD students with us. On your last course dive see the tiger sharks and play with humpback whales !!!
Grandpa, what else can they experience ???
We appear after 50 minutes. No more air, no more strength.
Infinitely enthusiastic, there are no words that can describe it.
The whale stays until we are on the boat and leave.
I wait on the surface of the water until everyone is charged.
A giant petrel (Giant Petrel) joins me.
The bird is right in front of my nose. No fear.
What an unforgettable day !!!!

                                             

 

9.8. 2020 Lockdown Day 136

I am totally awed.
We went diving today and what happened is a big story.
I am beyond words. First need to work this out.
Unbelievable.
Tomorrow i tell the story….now i am drinking….

8.8. 2020 Lockdown Day 135

Slowly, slowly things are moving in the right direction .
About a month a go we were allowed to dive again. Only at half load of permitted passengers and no business.
A week or so later we were told we are not allowed to take paying divers out, but everybody would close an eye if we did.
Thank you.
On Monday we were told that we can now take our full load of people on the boats again.
And yesterday i got a call telling me that from today we would be allowed to do business again.

I am very happy to hear this although there are hardly any divers around these days.It looks like Margate is a Corona Hotspot at the moment. Despite the long weekend, there is not much business in town.
At this stage people are only allowed to travel within their own province.
This surely keeps a lid on business for now.
We hear that from September, the country will open all provinces.
Then we are waiting for the international community to decide when they want to open all countries borders again.
We understand the Corona problem, really don’t want the damn virus and stick with the rules.
Honestly, i don’t even want the Flu….let alone the Corona !!!

So at the moment we have two AOWD students who keep us “busy”.
We dived Salmon Reef again and The Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks.
Again today, Protea was sheer Paradise !!! I will never get used to this .
Ou Man.
Going down we were accompanied close up by a Black Tip
On the First Cave we had about 20 raggies.
Then a massive Tiger Shark came by.
When we thought it was all over we suddenly had 12 hammerheads in the water.
What a dive !!!
Vis was 20m, water temp 21˚ and current was ever so gentle. Just right.
Tomorrow we do the same again and will probably have a perfect day, says the weatherman.

Deploying new Listening Station
Listening Station after 8 months
Securing station
Listening Station new

Really, nobody knows what’s going on anymore !!!
South Africa has 520,000 infections with 8,900 deaths. The numbers seem to be moving a little more slowly over the past few days. Nevertheless, hardly anyone is interested in the fact that the old Corona is continuously on the advance.
The hospitals are overcrowded, people are losing jobs and everything.
It’s not that bad with us on the South Coast.
Automatically our movement is restricted pretty much between the Diver Villa , our Shop and a few Hardware Stores.

Last Sunday I had a sad day.
Beulah and I were walking on the beach and suddenly I was overcome with endless sadness. I missed all of my loved ones like my father, my grandparents, my dogs like Marley and Smiley and all the others who gave me so much joy in life.
I was exhausted for most of the day.
Poor Claudia suffered with me.

On Monday we went diving. And that was amazing!
Karen and a student diver were on the boat.
So we first went to a shallower reef with the student.
Salmon Reef.
They were absolutely thrilled. The view was 20m + which is very rare.
Since there are hardly any sharks at this point, we almost never go to Salmon Reef.
Then we drove to Protea Banks.
Brendon and I switched out the shark listening stations. One is moored on the south side of Protea Banks, the other on the north side.
They register every shark that is equipped with a transmitter.
I can’t wait for the result from the south side. We did an unplanned experiment there, which constantly attracted tiger sharks. I think the results will astound the scientists … hahahaha.
We did not find the station on the north side this time.
It was mainly because the north side was full of sharks and we couldn’t concentrate on the job out of sheer joy and excitement
I counted about 50 sand tigers and then two tiger sharks came to us. They wanted to see what was going on here.
Man !!! Two tigers this time of year !!!
Amazing !!!
I’m still happy !!! (two days later)
I couldn’t film with all that stuff in my hands.
Brendon and I were just amazed … in heaven.
Then 2 bull sharks and two black tips.

The visibility was 25m, water temp 22˚C.

The rest of the week should actually be bad weather. Rain today, tomorrow a massive wind.
Let’s see.
It is definitely super interesting and exciting.

We are also currently in the process of making a new website.
Since we were recently really let down by the people who sold us this website, we had to get a new website made for better or for worse.
Not only is it expensive – especially now when there is no money coming in – but it is also associated with a lot of work.
Of course, this is still the old website because it will take a while until we can switch.
Nothing will change in the address, only in the structure.