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How to Become a Fish-Watcher
Becoming a Fish-Watcher with the ECFWP is easy, but time demanding. You can start by observing the fish in the tide pools next time you go to the beach. No matter if you are a certified scuba diver or not, your will need a mask, snorkel and fins to help yourself observe them. Getting a fish identification book is a good idea, so you can check the names and descriptions after. A very good one is Coastal Fishes of Souther Africa by Phill and Elaine Heemstra.
Scuba diving is the best way to do fish-watching. This tool will allow you to stay underwater for a long period, increasing the diversity of fishes to watch and the time to familiarize with them. Therefore, if you are willing to improve your fish-watching skills and you are not a certified scuba diver, it is time to start think about taking a Scuba Diver Course. Visit AfricanScuba to choose where to start your career in scuba diving, it is a useful site that consists primarily of an online database of dive companies and dive sites in Africa.
But if you are already a certified scuba diver, the ECFWP offers a fish-watching continuing education system consisting of:
A series of courses and lectures, with theory and practical sessions, to learn about the biology and ecology of fishes, and to correctly identify them in situ. Some of the courses are actually scuba diving specialties, so they can be part of your continuing diving education. To know the next workshops check our Fish-Watch Calendar or they can be arranged by appointment with the Manager of the Education Centre at Sea World in Durban.
The Fish-Watch Dive is an open ocean training session in fish identification. The Dives are co-ordinated by the charter boat skipper or Dive Master, who presents a short pre-dive briefing to provide some fish observation structure (focus) for that particular dive. This Fish-Watch Dive Plan may be organised along taxonomic lines (a particular family or genus of fishes) that will be the focus of this dive. Alternatively, the Dive Master can pick a particular site (habitat) or ecological category of fishes, e.g., demersal (bottom) fishes, or pelagic (free swimming) fishes as the group for concentration on the dive. During the dive, the code number (from the worksheet) of each species identified should be noted on a slate.
After the dive (on shore), the Dive Master will lead a debriefing session to discuss which species have been identified. Which species were seen, but not recognised (not identified)? Which species were the most common?
To cover the cost of educational materials, divers who want to join a Fish-Watch dive and are not members of the Fish-Watch Project would be asked to join the Project (pay the R50 annual membership fee) or pay a R20 levy (for the Worksheet). Divers who are members of the Project will bring their own worksheets and may do Fish-Watch Dives without paying the extra levy.
Fish-Watch Dives will be launched initially by Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions. Other dive charter operators may join the Project and offer Fish-Watch Dives, if they comply with the objectives and methods of the Project.
For information on Fish-Watch Dives contact:
Blue Wilderness Dive Expeditions, 9 Hilltop Road, Widenham.
Tel/Fax: (039) 973-2348 Cell: (083) 303 1515
As part of the Fish-Watch Project we produce 2 Worksheets per year to facilitate fish identification and provide more information about our local fishes. A Worksheet comprises a waterproof underwater fish identification worksheet and several pages of text giving you more information about the fish illustrated on the worksheet.
Please add R5.00 for postage.
The worksheets available are:
(N.B. in all cases, to get a larger, higher resolution image, please click on the picture).
Please note that no images on this or any other page may be reproduced in any form without our written permission.
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