Diving in Dar es Salaam
We have always enjoyed diving, but have only ever explored the underwater world when we were on holidays. We never went diving where we lived, but that was about to change. After joining the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club (DYC) we submitted more paperwork to join the dive section, and it turned out to be a very good choice.
Jon diving Cowrie Top, one of our many dive sites in Dar es Salaam
The DYC dive section is very active and dives are scheduled every Saturday morning and afternoon, Sunday morning and afternoon, Tuesday night, Thursday morning and Friday afternoon. Only two divers need to sign up as a minimum, including one dive leader. To be a dive leader you need to at least have Rescue Diver qualification and then go through some further learning with the dive section. We are nearly there as we have managed to complete our Rescue Diver course (thanks to Cor, our resident instructor), we just need to find the time to do several dives with an already qualified dive leader…
our first dive with the DYC, Sheila giving her pre-dive briefing
this is our dive shack with the trolley to ferry our gear to the slipway just behind it
a celebratory drink after our last dive on the rescue diver course with our victim and instructor (Alan, Kevin, Ryan, Jon, Jude and Cor)
Whenever we are in Dar for the weekend, we sign up for at least one dive, usually a morning dive as it can get a little windy and choppy at times in the afternoons, not great if you get seasick on the boat (like Jude). For our first dive we had very low expectations as we didn’t think it could be any good. But we were very happily surprised!
a large crocodile flathead tries to blend in with its surroundings
these cute things are called christmas trees, they disappear when you get too close
a peacock mantis shrimp, aren’t the colours beautiful?
a stunning feather star attached to a whip coral
a bluespotted ribbontail ray trying to hide under some coral
beautiful anemones can be seen on our Dar dives
this is Alana, the giant female lobster we usually see when we dive T-wall
a tasselled scorpionfish, usually quite hard to spot as they are masters in camouflage, but we’ve all learned how to find them and see them regularly
helmet gurnard – taken on Jude’s 100th dive, isn’t he amazing?
When we arrived in Tanzania, dynamite fishing was still a big thing. Almost on a daily basis, often several times a day, Jon’s office windows would shake of yet another blast in the ocean. Luckily our (then) new president, Mr Magufuli, quickly realised that people throwing dynamite sticks into the ocean can also easily throw a dynamite stick underneath his car for example. So he decided to restrict the sale of detonators, which was very easy to do as only one shop in the whole country, located in Morogoro, is allowed to sell them…
Cor, Jon, Kevin and Ryan on the bench for a pre-dive briefing
Jude dragging the surface buoy around as practice for becoming a dive-leader with the DYC
a male spotted boxfish, quite relaxed around divers and easy to photograph
a flat rock crab, hiding in between slabs of coral
another anemone, this time with several types of ‘nemo’ fish around it
a hermit crab with a rather ambitious home on his back?
The results are astounding. After only a year or so of (hardly) no dynamite fishing in the Dar area we can already see the fish life bouncing back. Schools of fish are more common, turtles are regularly spotted, dolpins are seen more often, and one lucky friend even spotted a whale (from his kayak) the other day.
can you find the octopus, or actually, can you find both octopus in this picture?
But even on our first dive, and all following dives, we were impressed with the Dar under water world. One of our favourite things we often spot are the incredibly diverse and often very colourful nudibranchs. And with Alan usually on the dive, a very keen diver with a huge wealth of knowledge about everything under water, we even know when we see really special things. We have seen several nudibranchs that have not even been described by the specialists yet!
this is a goniobranchus gleniei, a nudibranch, don’t you just love the vivid orange markings?
an ocellated Phylidia, another nudibranch, they are so colourful and so diverse
a chromodoris boucheti nudibranch, with golden rhinophores (the ear-like things on its body which are used to smell or taste) and a golden branchial plume (the other dangly bits the nudibranch breathes through)
this is a huge spanish dancer, a super-sized nudibranch. This one was approximately 45cm long!
Jude spotted this beautiful blue dragon, one of an amazing variety of nudibranchs that can be found at the Dar dive sites
this is another super special nudibranch spotted by Alan, it is a dendronotid eel bornella. It just looks super cute.
Mari spotted this unknown nudibranch on t-wall, also quite large for a nudibranch, approximately 20cm
Other things we often see are eels, rays, lobsters, sometimes turtles, and of course fish, lots of fish. The other day Jude even spotted a nurse shark on Pinnacles and a tiger snake moray eel on T-wall that Alan had never seen in the Dar area.
this is probably our favourite eel, the dragon eel, with his vibrant colours, just stunning
no, this is not a sea snake, it is a spotted snake eel. These are spotted semi-regularly, often hunting in the open, we even nearly sat on one during one of our exercises of our rescue diver course
we semi-regularly find spotted moray eels on our dives in Dar. Note, this is not the same animal as the spotted snake eel above.
a giant morray eel waiting for his next meal, we see them quite often
the tail of a tiger snake moray eel disappearing, Jude had a good look at it before it disappeared, but it was too quick to get the whole eel on camera
a beautiful yellow-margin eel, also a regular on our dives
a grumpy-looking geometric eel keeping a wary eye on us
We can also bring guests with us on the dives, so if you are a keen diver and have always wanted to explore the under water world of Dar es Salaam, make sure you visit us before we leave!
we saw about 20-30 blue-spotted stingrays in a small area, hiding in the sand with sometimes only their eyes or a little bit of tail giving them away
a giant frog fish, spotted by Mari, they look just like coral and are hard to find
sleepy looking cuttlefish
a cute blacklip porcupine fish
an electric ray, better not piss him off as he will send an electric current through the water when he feels threatened