A shared commitment to wildlife education and conservation has resulted in a welcome collaboration between Scottburgh’s Crocworld Conservation Centre and Crystal Divers SA, giving tourists the opportunity to experience all the KZN South Coast has to offer. And, to celebrate this worthwhile collaboration, the Crocworld team joined Crystal Divers SA for an underwater excursion on Monday (7 December 2020).

Crocworld’s Bird Curator, Ryne Ferguson (Pennington), Crocworld’s Assistant Manager, Smilo Nyawose (Umzinto), Crocworld’s Maintenance team, Qaphelani Mkhombe (Amandawe), Crocworld’s Maintenance team, Nkosinathi Phakathi (Amandawe), Crocworld Conservation Centre Acting Manager, James Wittstock (Pennington) all smiles after meeting the black tip sharks of Aliwal Shoal with the Crystal Divers team.
(Photographer: OJC)

“We’ve been so busy with all the new projects at Crocworld, it was really great having the chance to get back into the water and actually witness the sharks in their natural environment,” said Crocworld Conservation Centre Acting Manager, James Wittstock. “We feel it is important that we have first-hand experience of what we’re introducing our visitors to, and I can confirm it is truly out of this world!”

Crystal Divers South Africa has been operational since 2013 with new owners, Brian Flascas and Patrick LaRocque, taking the reins from 2019. Both have extensive diving experience and are passionate about introducing visitors to the underwater world and its inhabitants.

Sthembele Mvani (Amandawe) feeding the flamingos at Crocworld Conservation Centre.
(Photographer: Donald Strydom)

Commenting on the recent dive with the Crocworld team, Flascas said that, while the team aren’t strangers to apex predators, the experience of swimming with sharks was evidently impactful.

“What I found most interesting was the fascination on their faces as the sharks glided by them in the water,” recalled Flascas. “You could literally see the joy on their faces through their snorkel masks as they got introduced to an entirely different species for the very first time.”

New feature “walk the plank feeding platform”.
(Photographer: Crocworld Conservation Centre)

The Crystal Divers SA instructors are based on the KZN South Coast which is a renowned diving spot globally. With reef depths ranging from three to 37 metres, there are dive opportunities for any level. Those seeking something different can dive any of the multiple shipwrecks, such as the SS Nebo (27 metres), the MV Produce (32 metres) and the MV Griqualand (50 metres) catering to Tek-Rec divers. Within these warm coastal waters, divers are exposed to astonishing marine biodiversity that prompts many return visits. 

“I believe the collaboration between Crocworld and Crystal Divers SA opens an entire spectrum of activities for our guests which they might not otherwise have experienced,” said Flascas. “We all believe in education and growing the knowledge of people in terms of nature ‘beyond the garden fence’. Who knows, we may be instructing the next Steve Erwin or Jacques Cousteau!”

Visitors to Crocworld Conservation Centre can find the Crystal Divers South Africa booth at the entrance where an instructor can give information on the various options and best times to go.

The Black tip shark pack at Aliwal Shoal.
(Photographer: Jono Greenway)

The Crystal Divers South Africa outings include: 

1. Boat Rides – R350
This is a one-and-a-half hour ‘Ocean Safari’ with guests often enjoying sightings of turtles, dolphins and sharks.   

2. Bubble Maker Adventure – R850 (*December discount of 75% off!)
For the young adventurers (aged 8 and up), this introductory programme teaches the thrill of breathing underwater in a pool with a PADI instructor. 

3. Reef Snorkel Adventure – R500
Guests are taken by boat to the world-renowned Marine Protected Area, Aliwal Shoal, where they snorkel the reefs and swim for an hour with the marine life. All equipment is included.

4. Rockpool Snorkel Adventure – R350
Dive masters give a guided tour of the Scottburgh rockpools, introducing the incredible marine biodiversity of the area.

5. Baited Shark Snorkel Adventures – R1 000
Spend an hour swimming with these apex predators alongside experienced divers who ensure a safe adventure without the unnecessary confines of a cage.

6. Discover Scuba Diving – R1 500
Experienced PADI scuba instructors teach the basics in a pool before moving on to the ocean for an adventure. Guests are taken by boat to Aliwal Shoal and given a tour of the reef. All equipment is included.

7. Scuba Diving – R550
For qualified divers only. Guests are taken by boat to Aliwal Shoal and explore the interesting southern reef system.

8. Baited Shark Diving – R1 500
For qualified divers only. Experience the shark diving capital of Africa – Aliwal Shoal – with qualified guides.

9. PADI Scuba Courses – SQ
PADI courses for all levels of divers, from beginner to professional.

Crystal Divers SA offers an opportunity to snorkel with sharks at Aliwal Shoal. (Photographer: Jono Greenway)

In addition to the collaboration, Crocworld Conservation Centre is running fantastic summer holiday programme, which includes:

•  10am: Reptile interaction with either a snake or a lizard
•  11am: Crocodile feeding
•  11.30am: Crocodile handling
•   2pm: Vulture feedings (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays)
•   2pm: Maribou stork feedings (Mondays and Wednesdays)
•   3pm: Crocodile feeding
•   3.30 pm: Crocodile handling 

Crystal Divers caters for all levels of divers, including an opportunity to snorkel with sharks at Aliwal Shoal.
(Photographer: Jono Greenway)

There are also several new features, including the Raptor Wing; new resident white-throated monitor, Laggie; the Whale Watching Walkway; Crocodile Feeding Platform; new Gourmet Burger Menu at the Fish Eagle Café; and Henry the Nile crocodile’s 120th birthday celebration on Wednesday, 16 December.

All Covid-19 protocols are in place at Crocworld and visitors are urged to wear masks, sanitise and follow family group social distancing regulations. Crocworld will be closed on Friday, 25 December 2020, but will be open on Friday, 1 January 2021.

Black tip beauty at Aliwal Shoal.
(Photographer: Jono Greenway)

To find out more about Crocworld Conservation Centre, visit www.crocworld.co.za or ‘Crocworld Conservation Centre’ on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103. For more information about Crystal Divers SA, visit www.crystal-divers.co.za or contact info@crystal-divers.co.za / 071 911 8883 / 073 398 5021.