For the month of April 2014, National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition leader Paul Rose will lead a group of key scientists and filmmakers, together with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Andrea Marshall and the Marine Megafauna Foundation, to explore, survey, and record what they expect to be some of the healthiest reefs in East Africa, home to ocean giants like manta rays, dugongs, and more.
The National Geographic Pristine Seas team conducts their first dives while on expedition in Mozambique. (Photo by David McAloney)
Shortly after dawn a small fleet of local fishing dhows sailed close to our anchorage, and as the men brought in the nets their happy work song was the most perfect alarm clock and an ideal start to the expedition’s first day of diving.
We all love the first dive: The freshness of a new location and a keen sense of adventure and anticipation adds a sharp eagerness to our diving preparations–we just can’t wait to get in the water.
The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world. We descended through 81°F water to reach the top of the reef at 60 feet and we didn’t find the expected abrupt temperature change (the thermocline) until we were at 75 feet.
There is a vast amount of energy along this coastline and even at that depth we could feel the oceanic surges. The powerful Aghulas current brings rich nutrients to these warm waters and I felt as if I were diving in warm, energetic, life-giving soup.
Expedition Leader Paul Rose surfaces after conducting the first Pristine Seas dives in Mozambique. (Photo by David McAloney)
The high productivity of the water leads to abundant fish life and in just one dive we encountered a number of large manta rays, fusiliers, and trigger fish all feeding on this rich food source. Numerous predators taking advantage of the smaller fish included whitetip reef sharks, honeycomb moray eels, a giant moray eel, stingrays, and the iconic potato grouper. Schools of snappers were so dense that it was sometimes hard to see anything else. It was wonderful to see this healthy reef that included beautiful corals of both the soft and tabular kinds and amazing sponges.
This sponge was striking for being almost symmetrical. (Photo by David McAloney)
A day of diving in these waters has left us feeling privileged to be here and very, very excited about our unique Mozambican Pristine Seas adventure. What will be the alarm call tomorrow?
The Pristine Seas Mozambique expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.