As part of the FGASA Level 1 Marine guiding qualification, students start off with a snorkeling practical. This introduces them to the species one would find along our shores and prepares them to be able to provide guests with a guided snorkeling safari.
The aim of this first practical is to get students comfortable in the sea and to teach them snorkeling procedures that would be applied to a guided experience with guests.
On Tuesday the 23rd of October the new Level 1 Marine group, the ‘Umkhomo’ group, went to Rocktail Bay for their first practical with Bhejane Nature Training. The coastal drive to Rocktail Bay offers some awesome landscapes and scenic views of coastal forests and lakes.
We stopped off at lake Sibaya, South Africa’s largest fresh water lake. It is separated from the sea by coastal dunes only 2 km in width, and presumably originated from an old lagoon, which later became isolated by sand deposition. The water level is now 23 m above sea level and fluctuates widely depending on rainfall and evaporation, because of the lack of outflowing rivers. Lake Sibaya and its surrounding area is known for the wealth of fauna containing a few rare species and more than 200 species of birds and a large number of hippopotamus and crocodiles. Some 1,500 inhabitants on the lake coast live on agriculture and fishery, keeping traditional ways of fishing. When the lagoon got separated from the sea it slowly became a fresh water lake. Because this process was quite slow, some species managed to adapt to the change in salinity and from being a marine species now transformed to be a freshwater species. One example is the endemic freshwater goby, Silhouettea sibayi
From there we set off to Rocktail Bay Lodge, a beautiful, tranquil setting to spend the next 4 days. The lodge was abandoned a few years ago and is now run by the community, situated in a lovely thick coastal forest where I could enjoy a hot outdoor shower with a Livingstone’s Turaco perched in the tree in front me!
Unfortunately weather conditions weren’t all that great and the sea conditions was nothing like it could be in the area, but we still went out and managed to learn a lot. On days where weather and rain prevented the group from going snorkeling, time was spent doing coastal tree and plant identification around the camp. Shells picked up from the beach were brought back to be identified and time was spent going through the list of fish seen during the days snorkel.
Birding in these coastal forest proves to be challenging, especially for your beginner birders. The morning chorus of bird calls erupts from dawn but trying to spot the Aves in their coastal habitat is another story. (Everyone sharpened up on their bird calls though!)
Below is short video of the weeks snorkeling experiences. As you'll see, conditions weren't ideal and visibility was not that great, but was still greatly enjoyed by all parties and had some very memorable moments.
|Students Doing Some Fish ID|
|Flower from the Cross Berry Raisin Tree|
For more information on the Bhejane Marine Level 1 course email us today!
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Creating Awareness Through Wilderness.....