I’m absolutely mad about nudibranchs, and scuba diving in cape town gives me the opportunity to hunt for these amazing creatures.
Cape Town’s cold waters may not have the many colourful fish found on coral reefs. Instead, we have incredibly colourful reefs, which are perfect for a macro fanatic.
So, what is a nudibranch? Hmmm, short and sweet, it’s a slug – a sea slug. But not your common dull garden-variety slug – no, nudibranchs are usually rather colourful and attractive, showing incredible variety. Nudibranch itself means “naked gill”, because the gills are on the outside of the body.
And while we all commonly refer to all sea slugs as nudibranchs, technically they are only one type of sea slug – there are many others!
In Cape Town we have around 75 known species, according to our naturalist and nudibranch fundis. For most of them we have nice common names. We also have the scientific names for those who like to tick off species lists.Guido Zsilavecz has written a book “Nudibranchs of the Cape Peninsula of False Bay”, which shows most of the known species. While in Georgina Jones’ book “A Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula” the more common ones are shown. And in-between all the other animals found in our 8-18 degree waters.
Nudibranchs – Cape Town
We, at DiveInn Cape Town, specialize in looking for nudibranchs – we like them, we’re good at finding them. Thus making us the perfect guides for the keen nudibranch hunter and photographer. Dives can be done from shore (we have many easy-entry sites – quite unusual actually). Or by boat for deeper dives or further offshore, with depths ranging from 2 to 30 metres of depth. Of course, nudibranchs are not all we will see, and we’ll encounter much other macro life on each dive, apart from simply enjoying the colour of our reefs and moody kelp beds alike.
They are also seasonal like on a restaurant menu you will see Cray fish and for the price a “SQ”, same will apply to most of nudibranch species in Cape Town. The sandy reefs we will see Sand slugs, four colours, slipper slugs and warty pleurobranchs. On the kelp roots and fronds, Orange clubs, Candies and Night sky. Rocky reefs the Crown, Blacks, Silvertips, Fiery and my favourite the Gas flame nudibranchs.
On the deeper reefs and Wrecks we can find ink spot, frilly and whip fan nudibranchs. The previous names are what we call our Nudibranchs but they do have their scientific names as well. To pronounce most of them is hectic. So local names on the tongue and when you update your log you can quote the scientific name from the above mentioned books for those who can speak foreign.
DiveInn Cape Town specialises in looking for the nudibranchs and pointing them out for the keen hunter and photographer. REPEAT – Of course, nudibranchs are not all we will see. We’ll encounter much other macro or bigger animal life on each dive. Apart from simply enjoying the colour of our reefs and moody kelp beds alike.