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Maybe this can become a growing list and a sticky. Click to expand Was there any particular reason, Stuart, why you posted your most informative message about diving literature here in "General Scuba Equipment Discussions" instead of "Book and Media Reviews", considering that the books you list are not all gear-focused? In the case of my own very modest collection of diving books, I built up the American titles during visits to San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago and New York used book stores between the s and the s when I spent my annual summer vacation States-side with my only surviving relative. Another source during that period here in the UK was David Way's mail-order second-hand diving book service; he was a published British author on spearfishing and regularly issued catalogues of the vintage diving literature he had purchased for resale to collectors. And the bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine managed to supply me with a few French diving-related titles while visiting Paris several decades ago. As for diving books of the current era, it does sound as though you have really done your homework and are fully aware not only of the available sources of printed literature but also of both the benefits and the shortcomings of the various best-sellers.
We use hand signals! Photo Credit: Peter Southwood. No changes made. Surface : Touch the top of your head with your hand, either open or closed and form an O shape with your arm. Ascend: Thumb up. Descend: Thumb down. Stop: Extend hand straight out in front of you like a traffic cop stopping traffic. Turn the Dive: Make a circular motion with your index finger. Problem: Wiggle your hand in front of you.
Similar to a so-so sign in standard conversation. Low on Air: Place a clenched fist across your chest Image Credit: www. How Much Air Left? Which you can find out by looking at the pressure gauge! For every additional 10 bars of air hold up one finger after this signal.
When you have only bars left it is time to prepare to finish the dive. For example rain may fall on the Cape Peninsula in the morning, and by afternoon these conditions may have moved over to the east side of False Bay and the peninsula may be clearing with a significant wind directional shift from north westerly to south westerly.
The general trend is for the weather to come in from the west and move eastwards with the frontal systems, but there can also be more local weather phenomena such as thunderstorms rare and Berg winds, which are warm winds coming down off the mountains. Local variation in wind strength may be extreme, and sometimes hard to believe, as there may be a dead calm in one place and a howling wind a few kilometres away.
There are places known for exposure to both south easterly and north westerly winds, and some which are sheltered from one or the other, while the south-westerlies blow most places, but not usually to quite the same extremes.
What this amounts to in practice, is that the weather conditions where you are at a particular time may differ significantly from those at a dive site a bit later in the day. Sea conditions[ edit ] Waves and swell[ edit ] The waves reaching the shores of False Bay and the Cape Peninsula can be considered as a combination of local wind waves and swell from distant sources.
The swell is produced by weather systems generally south of the continent, sometimes considerably distant, the most important of which are the frontal systems in the South Atlantic, which generate wind waves which then disperse away from their source and separate over time into zones of varying period.
The long period waves are faster and have more energy, and move ahead of the shorter period components, so they tend to reach the coast first.
This is known to surfers as a pulse, and is generally followed by gradually shortening period swell of less power.
Local winds will also produce waves which will combine their effects with the swell. Offshore winds as a general rule will flatten the sea as the fetch distance that the wind has blown over the water is too small to develop waves of great height or length. Onshore winds on the other hand, if strong enough will produce a short and nasty chop which can make entry and exit uncomfortable, and surface swims or boat rides unpleasant.
The combination of swell and wind waves must be considered when planning a dive. This requires knowledge of these conditions, which are forecast with variable accuracy by a number of organisations, in some cases up to 7 days ahead. Upwellings[ edit ] South-easterly winds which blow offshore and along the coast on the west side of the Cape Peninsula and the east side of False Bay cause a movement of surface water northwards along the coast and offshore to the west of the coast.
This movement of water away from the coast is compensated by the upwelling of deeper water. These upwellings are of considerable interest to the diver, as the upwelled water is generally cold and relatively clear. However, as the upwelled water has a high nutrient content, the upwellings are often forerunners of a plankton bloom known as a "red tide", which will drastically reduce visibility.
On the east side of False Bay the upwellings often cause poor visibility as they can disturb the very fine and low density sediment which is common on that side of the bay, particularly in the shallower part near Gordon's Bay. Tides[ edit ] The local tides are relatively weak, and there are no strong tidal currents on the Atlantic coast or in False Bay.
The resulting tidal flows are of little consequence to the diver, the main effect being slight changes in the depth at the dive site and variations on the obstacle presented by kelp fronds near the surface, which can affect the effort required to get through the kelp at the surface. In this regard it is generally easier at high tide.
Boat launches at some slipways can be difficult at low tide, which can occasionally affect boat dive schedules.
Maximum tidal range at Cape Town is approximately 1. The bottom temperature may be a few degrees colder. The bottom temperature inshore is much the same.
Currents[ edit ] Currents are not usually considered an issue at most dive sites in this region. A shallow surface current may be produced by strong winds, which can be an inconvenience if it sets offshore.
This surface layer is shallow and a diver may return to shore at 3m depth below the current. Tidal currents are negligible, and are only experienced at a few isolated dive sites, such as Windmill, during spring tides when there is some swell running. The only two places which may experience significant currents are at the mouth of False Bay, at Rocky Bank and Bellows Rock, where eddies from the Agulhas current frequently produce a light- to medium-strength current, which may be strong enough to inconvenience divers in the shallows around Bellows Rock.
Predicting the weather and sea conditions[ edit ] Predicting diving conditions in this region is fairly complex. There are websites such as Buoyweather  , Surf-Forecast  and Windguru  which provide reasonably reliable forecasts for wind and swell. This combined with information on recent conditions of water temperature and visibility will allow a fairly reliable prediction of conditions a few days in advance.
The local Wavescape  website and surf report is also a valuable reference with a distinctive South African ambience, though like the others, it is primarily intended for surfers, and divers must interpolate a bit.
Visibility can clear up quite quickly overnight on the Atlantic coast due to currents and relatively coarse sediments. On the west side of False Bay it is a little slower, and it can take several days, even weeks, on the east side of the bay, where the sediments are fine and light. Until you have developed a feel for this procedure, it is useful to get second opinions from people or organisations with experience.
Some of the local dive charter operators have better reputations for weather prediction than others, and there are some who will almost always claim that conditions are or were good.
The Blue Flash  weekly newsletter is as good as any other and better than many. The marine ecology[ edit ] Kelp forest on a high profile inshore reef The bioregions Cape Point at the tip of the Cape Peninsula is considered the boundary between two of the five inshore marine bioregions of South Africa.
To the west of Cape Point is the cool to cold temperate South-western Cape inshore bioregion, and to the east is the warmer temperate Agulhas inshore bioregion. The Cape Point break is considered to be a relatively distinct change in the bioregions and this can be clearly seen from the difference in marine life between the Atlantic seaboard of the peninsula and False Bay.
The habitats Four major habitats exist in the sea in this region, distinguished by the nature of the substrate.
The substrate, or base material, is important in that it provides a base to which an organism can anchor itself, which is vitally important for those organisms which need to stay in one particular kind of place.
Rocky shores and reefs provide a firm fixed substrate for the attachment of plants and animals. Some of these may have Kelp forests, which reduce the effect of waves and provide food and shelter for an extended range of organisms. Sandy beaches and bottoms are a relatively unstable substrate and cannot anchor kelp or many of the other benthic organisms. Finally there is open water, above the substrate and clear of the kelp forest, where the organisms must drift or swim.
Mixed habitats are also frequently found, which are a combination of those mentioned above. The habitats are described in more detail in the following sections.
Rocky shores and reefs Several layers of marine life may co-exist in apparent harmony The great majority of popular dive sites in the local waters are on rocky reefs or mixed rocky and sandy bottoms, with a significant number of wrecks, which are equivalent to rocky reefs for classification of habitat, as in general, marine organisms are not particular about the material of the substrate if the texture and strength is suitable and it is not toxic.
For many marine organisms the substrate is another type of marine organism, and it is common for several layers to co-exist. Examples of this are red bait pods, which are usually encrusted with sponges, ascidians, bryozoans, anemones, and gastropods, and abalone, which are usually covered by similar seaweeds to those found on the surrounding rocks, usually with a variety of other organisms living on the seaweeds.
The type of rock of the reef is of some importance, as it influences the range of possibilities for the local topography, which in turn influences the range of habitats provided, and therefore the diversity of inhabitants. Granite reefs generally have a relatively smooth surface in the centimetre to decimetre scale, but are often high profile in the metre scale, so they provide macro-variations in habitat from relatively horizontal upper surface, near vertical sides, to overhangs, holes and tunnels, on a similar scale to the boulders and outcrops themselves.
There are relatively few small crevices compared to the overall surface area. Sandstone and other sedimentary rocks erode and weather very differently, and depending on the direction of dip and strike, and steepness of the dip, may produce reefs which are relatively flat to very high profile and full of small crevices. These features may be at varying angles to the shoreline and wave fronts.
There are far fewer small caverns and swimthroughs in sandstone reefs, but often many deep but low near-horizontal crevices. In some areas the reef is predominantly wave-rounded medium to small boulders.
In this case the type of rock is of little importance.
The coastline in this region was considerably lower during the most recent ice-ages, and the detail topography of the dive sites was largely formed during the period of exposure above sea level. As a result, the dive sites are mostly very similar in character to the nearest landscape above sea level. There are notable exceptions where the rock above and below the water is of a different type. These are mostly in False Bay south of Smitswinkel Bay, where there is a sandstone shore with granite reefs.
Kelp Forests Dense kelp forest with algal understorey Kelp forests are a variation of rocky reefs, as the kelp requires a fairly strong and stable substrate which can withstand the loads of repeated waves dragging on the kelp plants. The Sea bamboo Ecklonia maxima grows in water which is shallow enough to allow it to reach to the surface with its gas-filled stipes, so that the fronds form a dense layer just below the surface.
The shorter Split-fan kelp Laminaria pallida grows mostly on deeper reefs, where there is not so much competition from the sea bamboo.
Both these kelp species provide food and shelter for a variety of other organisms, and particularly the Sea bamboo, which is a base for a wide range of epiphytes, which in turn provide food and shelter for more organisms.
The Bladder kelp Macrocysta angustifolia can also be found at a few sites, mostly near Robben Island. This is one of the few places in the world where three genera of kelps may be found at the same place. Sandy beaches and bottoms including shelly, pebble and gravel bottoms Sandy bottoms at first glance appear to be fairly barren areas, as they lack the stability to support many of the spectacular reef based species, and the variety of large organisms is relatively low.
The sand is continually being moved around by wave action, to a greater or lesser degree depending on weather conditions and exposure of the area.