The dive site Storm’s River Mouth is a shoreline rocky reef, in the Tsitsikamma National Park in the Eastern Cape. The waters of the park have high biodiversity and have been protected from fishing for many years, so the marine life is abundant.
This is a shore dive. There is adequate paved parking at the end of the road into the park, in front of the restaurant at the river mouth. At the seaward side of the end of the parking lot is the gravel access road to the slipway. The dive shop is up a short flight of steps and across a flat grassy area to the left of the slipway, just below the restaurant, and is also accessible by steps down from the wooden platform in front of the restaurant
Entry and exit can be from the slipway, from the small sandy beach to the left, below the restaurant, from the rocks to the right of the slipway, or up a steep wooden ladder normally used for boarding boats.
The beach and the old slipway adjacent to the beach can be very surgey if a swell is running, and the new slipway can be very slippery due to algae growth. At low tide the jump from the breakwater/retaining wall alongside the slipway is quite high, so keep as far to the end as possible without landing on the rocks. The concrete steps at the top of the new slipway are convenient and reasonably safe at most states of the tide, but may be tricky in a big swell. The wooden ladder’s lower rungs are sometimes tilted by contact with the boat and may not be usable. Check first
This site is in a Marine Protected Area so a MPA permit is required.
Maximum depth is about 9m, at the east end of the rocky ridges which define the inlet.
Visibility in this area is often poor, and at the river mouth possibly more so than further offshore and to the east. This can also be seen by the reef life, which is more typical of deeper water where there is less light. However, in spite of the probability of poor visibility it can still be a pleasant and interesting dive. In diveable conditions visibility may range from 2m upwards, but probably seldom better than about 6m.
The dive site is in and around a small inlet on the west side of the river mouth. It is protected to some extent from swells from the south west, but is open to swells from the east. There are steep sided rocky ridges to the north and south of this inlet, which has a largely sandy bottom and a small beach to the west below the restaurant. These ridges are home to a quite surprising variety of invertebrates. The ridges extend quite a distance beyond the parts visible above the water, and are quite high profile. There are also smaller ridges parallel to these that stick up from the sand bottom toward the east.
Beyond these ridges it is possible to swim around to the south or north into parallel inlets. The one to the north is generally rough to extremely rough, as it is more exposed to waves. This is generally a dangerous area to dive, and almost certainly a dangerous area to try to get out. Do not consider it an alternative exit area unless the conditions are exceptionally calm.
The inlet to the south is far more protected than the inlet to the north, and may be a pleasant dive site, but exiting there would require a long hike via steep but good paths to get back to the parking area. It could be used as an emergency exit point.
The reef supports a diverse cover of invertebrates and bushy coralline algae that one would normally expect to see in deeper water. This may be a consequence of the commonly poor light levels resulting from poor visibility.
There are more sponges and soft corals than one would expect in such a shallow site, and they are quite colourful. There are also a variety of fish typical of this part of the coast, and you will probably see Roman, Blacktail and Fransmadam, but others are possible, and occasionally a fairly large shoal may be seen.
Other invertebrates include basket stars, brittle stars, and spiny starfish, Cape sea urchins, Knobbly, False plum, Striped and Violet spotted anemones, sea squirts of a few species, and a variety of colonial ascidians