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Diving Protea Banks

At African Dive Adventures we specialise in Shark Diving and have great Shark Spotting’s on all our reef. The Protea Reef Dive is a drift dive. It is a multi-level dive and a lot of time is spent in the blue water experiencing encounters with the Sharks.

African Dive Adventures also offers an exceptionally exciting speciality Shark Dive, called a Baited Dive.

We can proudly say that our success rate is fantastic and we have had maybe
two to three dives that have not been successful in the last 4 years!!!!

On this Baited Dive, divers can encounter sharks on scuba like never before.
It is done safely and the way it is conducted ensures that no harm is done to the sharks or the environment. The Sharks are
NOT HAND FED….. They are lured into an area, where divers can observe them much closer than on a normal reef dive.

The dive starts with an intensive briefing. An explanation of the code of conduct and tips on how to behave and get the most out of your dive. After the boat ride out to the banks, a bait bucket is set to depth of 8m and is held up by buoys. A number of different species of sharks will pick up the scent and follow it to its origin. The Sharks are often visible as they come out of the blue. The boat stays at a safe distance from the bait to ensure that the shark is not disturbed until it is entirely focus on the bucket. The boat then slowly approaches the baiting station, where people can clearly observe the sharks. Divers then enter the water as quietly as possible, and swim slowly towards the baited area. Divers can then enjoy the inquisitive sharks that swim in to examine the food source. Sharks will swim in between divers at a very close distance, but always focussed on the bucket.

The encounters are really close and make create great photo opportunities!!

Protea Banks is situated 7.5km out to sea from Shelly Beach. The reef lies at a depth of between 27 and 40 meters. It is about 6km long and 800m wide. Generations of local fisherman have made a living at Protea, whilst scuba divers have come face to face with Sharks and Game Fish for the last seventeen years. Zambezi Sharks come to take a closer look at these noisy bubble blowers and do not mind to pose for an award winning photograph.

Scalloped Hammerheads patrol up and down the reef in schools that at times are up to 300 strong.
What a sight when you see their silhouettes against the rays of the sun. !! Although generally shy
the Great Hammerhead also makes a rare appearance from time to time.

Behind a massive school of Barracudas you could see five or six Blacktip Sharks darting in and out of your vision.
These beautiful marked and steam lined animals always seem to be playing hide and seek with the divers
and they behave just like underwater puppies.

When the slow but steady current takes you past Sand Shark Gulley, you will encounter a sandy patch the size of a rugby field, here you can at times see as many as 60 Giant Guitar Sharks. The Raggedtooth Sharks (fondly called Raggies) can also
be seen in large numbers of plus minus 100 to 200 at a time during their breeding season.
Their friendly and inquisitive nature has made them a firm favourite with many divers.

Last but definitely not least is the magnificent Tiger Shark. This perfectly built and beautifully striped creature often makes an impressive appearance on Protea. Protea Banks is ranked as one of the worlds best Shark dives.

If Sharks are what you are looking for then this is the dive for you!!!!

Shark Activity
Hammerheads, November to March
Raggedtooth Sharks, May to November
Zambezies, All Year Round
Tiger Sharks, March to May
Blacktips, All Year Round

Protea Banks is the home of the Zambezi Sharks and is very active on all the Reefs.
Dusky and Bronze Whalers are also seen at times, but not on a regular basis. We have been lucky to have
one or two Great Whites in the 15 years that we have been diving Protea Banks, but this is very, very rare.

A Mako came past early this year (2011), but this is of cause just a case of being in the right place at the right time.!!!!!

The Southern Pinnacle of Protean Banks

On the Southern Pinnacle there are different areas to dive. The Normal Southern Pinnacle dive starts at the Southern Cave, which hosts all kinds of game fish. At times so thick that it is difficult to see your buddy! After the cave, you reach Kingfish Gully, an overhanging rock which is home to large shoals of Kingfish, Yellowtail and Potato Bass, to name a few. Billy Bob Steinberg our resident Potato Bass loves to come in for a cuddle and a photo shoot opportunity!!.

The current then takes you to a large sandy patch called Sand Shark Gully also know as the Arena .It lies at exactly 40m and is home to the Giant Guitar Shark. At times 50 to 60 of these magnificent creatures are seen lined up like planes on an airport.
There are also other areas …Lord of the Rings and the Village. But limited bottom time does not allow us to spend time at all of them. We can spend all our bottom time at any of them, if we do not have any current.

The Zambezi is of cause synonymise with Protea Banks, and is a frequent visitor on the Southern Pinnacle. Tiger Sharks, Blacktips, Duskies and Bronze Whalers can also be seen. As with the Northern Pinnacle large schools of Scalloped Hammerheads frequent this area. (at times several hundreds at a time!!) The Great Hammer Head also puts in an appearance but in smaller numbers.

The best time to dive the Southern Pinnacle is in the summer months from October to April.
Average depth is 32 meters.

The Northern Pinnacle of Protea Banks

This area of Protea has magnificent topography and is mainly dived during the winter months. The reef is virtually untouched and has two caves which are used by the Ragged-tooth Sharks on their annual migration and congregation route. During this exciting period divers can encounter up to 200 Raggies at a time!!! (often even more).

The dive starts at the large cave, looking in from the top and observing the Raggies interacting peacefully with each other. Often the caves are so full of sharks that one can hardly see the bottom. Divers then pass the tunnel, past coral garden and get to the second cave. This cave is also open on top and has several chambers, each one with a wide opening at the top. When there are no Raggies in the caves, it is great fun exploring and collecting Raggies teeth, which are generally plentiful in and around this cave area. Divers are allowed to remove these teeth as a nice souvenir and proof of your close encounter with the Raggies.

During spring and summer large Schools of Hammerheads can often be seen on this reef.
The dive on the Northern Pinnacle is by no means over once divers leave the caves. On your way to the top
and at the safety stop you can more that often have a visit from a Zambezies or Blacktips.

Best time to dive the Northern Pinnacle is between May to November.
Average depth is 34 meters.

What you need to know about diving Protea Banks

Protea is an Advance Dive and it is a specialised Shark Dive.
You need to be an Advanced Diver or a well experienced Open Water Diver.
You must be in possession of either a Log Book or your C Card. (Proof of Diving Qualifications)

Be assured that you are in no danger….if you respect the Sharks and their territory, they will do the same to you. We have never had even the slightest diver/sharks incident since African Dive Adventures opened its doors in 1994.

Relax and enjoy the experience, it is truly amazing.
This will be a memory that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Even after all these years, we still feel honoured and privileged to be in the presence of these majestic and beautiful creatures every day.

The History of Diving of Protea Banks

During the early 1990s, Spear Fishermen and Fishing Charters frequented visited Protea Banks, but for Scuba Divers this was still unknown territory. Divers however started demanding more exciting dives and close encounters with sharks.

Legendary Andy Cobb at this stage an Instructor at Aliwal Cove, and Karen Treger from Scuba Sports in Margate, decided to try and organise a dive to Protea Banks. They were joined by some interested Operators and clients from the diving fraternity in Umkomaas. They decided to use Sensational Fishing Charters as there was no Dive Operator offering dives on Protea.

On the 29th January 1992, Andy, Karen and group divers headed out to Protea on board the Sensational One. Andy Cobb was the Dive master and according to Karen his briefing was more frightening than any dive she has ever done!!. The divers were all very nervous and apprehensive. All sorts of questions popped up….. ’what to do in case of frenzy feed on a diver!? Talk of artery clamps to stop major bleeding was even mentioned. Divers were all armed with either a pool cue, bang sticks and even spear guns. This group of pioneers were looked upon as ‘totally insane’ by the local community. The divers encountered sharks as soon as they entered the water and divers had the dive of their lives. After this pioneer dive, divers had more courage to dive Protea Banks. Andy Cobb established Eco Diving and offered regular diving excursions out to the reef, as well as Shark Courses. It was a challenge to get divers over their basic fear of sharks and the unknown. Divers dived what is today known as the Southern Pinnacle of Protea in these early days. They saw large schools of Hammerheads, Zambezies, Blacktips and Tigers. What made it all so exciting is that they never knew what to expect. Andy remembers one particular memorable dive with Karen Tredger. ‘ As we rolled backwards from an ‘appreciable’ height off Sensational One, Karen fell straight into a large group of Zambezies. What was amazing was that after hitting the water, Karen managed to get back on the Boat fully kitted and unaided!!!. Her super human strength so impressed Any that he still refers to her as ‘Super Woman’ after all these years.

African Dive Adventures was formed in 1994. This offered divers a more direct access to Protea Banks. The Northern Pinnacle also became popular due to the Raggies that come in great numbers during winter, and of its fantastic topography. Playground has been dived for three years now, and has its own popularity and beauty.

Protea Banks has become a renowned shark dive due to its diversity of Sharks. Gone are the days of bang sticks and spear guns. Divers have lost their fear of sharks and now demand closer and closer encounters, due to the fact that not one diver/shark incident has taken place on Protea in all these years.

Divers from all over the world enjoy diving with Tigers, Zambezies, Raggies, Hammers ,Blacktips, Duskies and Bronze Whalers.
Diving the ‘Banks’ has become a milestone in the life of many a diver.

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