Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Two Oceans Aquarium
The aquarium provides the opportunity for diving in a controlled environment where you are guaranteed to see a large number of a variety of large fish.
Port Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town harbour.
This site is not in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is not required.
The name "Two Oceans Aquarium" refers to the two oceans on the coast of South Africa, The Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which technically meet at Cape Agulhas.
Kelp Tank 6m, Predator tank 5.2m
Visibility is good. Expect to see across the tank.
The Predator tank is a large oval tank with an oval central partition which is used to isolate fish when required. This part (the “Doughnut”) is not dived by visitors, who stay in the outer ring. There are large windows, almost full height on one side, through which you can observe the visitors if you get bored with the fish. The central partition and part of the bottom is covered by artificial rock face, and the rest of the bottom is covered in small white gravel on one side and coarse dark stone chips on the other side.
The Kelp tank is roughly square, with a large bay window cutting a diagonal across one corner. It is panelled with artificial rock faces and includes reefs and a cave of similar material. Part of the bottom is covered by fine white gravel, and the rest by small loose rocks and stones, and an assortment of artefacts.
A site where conditions can be guaranteed all year round. Visibility is always good, and water temperature is consistent, though it does vary slightly with the seasons. The Predator tank is likely to be about 21°C in summer, and 19°C in winter, while the Kelp tank will be about 18°C in summer and 15°C in winter. There is a slight clockwise current in the Predator tank, and a surge created by a wave machine in the Kelp tank. Niether of these is a problem.
Parking: The most convenient parking for the Two Oceans Aquarium is in Portswood Square which is opposite the Aquarium in Port Road. An hourly parking fee is charged, which is additional to Aquarium charges.
Ablution: The diving area has showers and toilet facilities of good standards, including outdoor hot water showers on the roof.
Equipment: Equipment rental is available on site. It is also possible to do a “Hard Hat” dive in a Standard diving suit with a copper helmet, canvas suit, weighted boots and surface supply air in the predator tank. This is quite expensive and requires early booking, but is an unusual experience for the diver who wants to do something different.
Other attractions: The rest of the aquarium is also well worth visiting, and there are kiosks and restaurants within easy walking distance.
Booking is essential. Contact the Bookings Co-ordinator on +27-21-418-3823 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange bookings.
From the Airport: Take the N2 South to Cape Town - 20km, stay in the right hand lanes for Eastern Boulevard. and stay on the freeway as far as it goes. Turn right into the V&A Waterfront at the first traffic lights. Take the first left at the first traffic circle (Port road), and straight through at the second circle. The Two Oceans Aquarium is on the right hand side. It is a large red brick building. Park at Portswood Square which is opposite the Aquarium in Port Road. An hourly parking fee is charged.
From Cape Town Railway Station: Take the Waterfront Bus/taxi which leaves from outside Texies Fisheries in Adderley Street to the V&A Waterfront. The bus/taxi will stop outside the Aquarium.
Meet the divemaster as previously arranged. There are stairs to climb for three floors, but if you bring your own equipment there is a goods lift available. Entry to the tanks is from the roof area, as these tanks are open to the sky. There are stairs and ladders provided to the dive platforms just above the water. Climbing out onto the plarforms requires reasonable agility as there are no ladders into the water
Predator Tank: The predator tank has Ragged tooth sharks, rays, a turtle and a range of large predatory fish from local and more distant waters.
Kelp Tank: Two types of kelp found in Cape Town waters. The local species of fish in this tank are big, abundant, and not shy of divers.
There is not a great deal of scope for photography other than of fish, but this is compensated by the ease of finding and photographing the fish. The background is not usually interesting or particularly attractive, so lens and strobe combinations which allow you to fill the frame with the subject and minimise the background detail will work well. The lighting is generally good, due to filtering and shallow depth.
No specific route recommended, Each tank is small enough to explore comprehensively during a single dive. You will be expected to follow the divemaster.
There are large predatory fish in the predator tank. The sharks have not attacked divers, but a kob has lacerated a diver’s hand. The risk is considered to be very low except at feeding time, when you will not be diving. You will be required to sign a waiver and follow the instructions of the dive leader.
Entry level diving certification is needed to dive in the Predator Tank. The dive will be led by a divemaster from the school based at the aquarium. Advanced divers are allowed to dive in the Kelp Tank, where the surge and kelp forest make things slightly more tricky, and the display is more easily damaged. Divers with commercial qualification can join the Aquarium volunteer divers and help with cleaning the windows and other routine maintemence.
No special equipment is required. If you have a camera, take it along. Everything else can be hired.