Swimming with Dolphins in Cape Town

Cape Town Freediving Clip Of The Week 7:​

There aren’t many people who would turn down the opportunity to swim with dolphins, especially Bottlenose dolphins. Stephan was lucky enough to do just that with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins just off Clovelly.

Last week we had very interesting conditions in False Bay. Warm 17-18 degree water pushed into the bay which brought in big schools of bait fish and the predators who feed on them e.g. whales, dolphins and yellowtail. The wind dropped and the warm, still water provided ideal conditions for an algal bloom which turned the water from clear blue to bright green. Fortunately our go-to spots for snorkeling in Cape Town remained clear enough to keep our snorkelers happy, but in most other places in the bay the water visibility became quite poor for a few days. Despite the green water, Stephan was treated to a rare interaction with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins who spent a day calmly milling about in the water. Dolphins in Cape Town are not uncommon, but they are generally seen playing in the bow and wake of boats or moving fast on the hunt. This is because most dolphin sightings in Cape Town are Long-beaked common dolphins or Dusky dolphins. They don’t tend to stick around in one area like the Bottlenose dolphins in this clip.

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus – translated directly as ‘dolphins that are mutilated’) are distributed all around our coast and pretty much all temperate and tropical waters worldwide. They are highly intelligent and have been trained to use artificial language, to locate sea mines and to perform in aquarium shows. They prefer coastal waters and as a result have a lot of interactions with humans. Unfortunately their proximity to humans also means that they are vulnerable to exploitation and pollution from humans. They are unfortunately hunted in places like Taiji and the Faroe Islands. They feed mainly on fish and the presence of the big schools of bait fish is most likely why they were milling around the False Bay peninsula. They also eat squids, eels and crabs. They search for prey using echolocation which is a type of sonar. These amazing animals are also well known to interact with swimmers, snorkelers, freedivers, surfers and scuba divers. They are usually found in groups of 20-50, but we have had interactions with pairs of Bottlenose dolphins in Sodwana. Swimming and freediving with Bottlenose dolphins is always an unforgettable experience.

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