THE UNDERWATER WORLD OF CAPE VERDE

Ray Almeida (1985)


Geologically, the volcanic structure so evident above the surface of our islands continues unbroken to the depths. In the case of Ilha do Sal and Boavista, much of the volcanic topography has been eroded away by wind and time. But this is not the case below the surface. Typically, much of Cape Verde presents an underwater world of massive rock formations, caves, canyons, ledges and sharp wall dropoffs. In many areas sea life is plentiful. All of these caves and crevices are home to fish, eel, lobster and in many areas, intensely yellow polyps.

We have brilliantly colored parrot and trigger fish but in general our fish life is not as colorful, nor our plant life as plentiful and varied as is the case in the Red Sea sport diving resorts. But we have something very special which we can reliably show our tourists almost every diving day of the year. In many areas around our islands one can observe big fish and large schools of fish relatively close to shore. During the warmer weather, it is not uncommon to see 3 foot long trumpet fish, massive loggerhead or green turtles sometimes up to 1 meter across, manta rays up to 3 meters, the largest balloon fish you will find anywhere and schools of dolphins. Off the northern coast of Boa Vista island we sometimes see 100-150 big yellow fin tuna breaking the surface and rocketing skyward like Polaris missiles! In March and April humpback and grey whales often appear off shore. We have large schools of barracuda numbering a hundred animals, strawberry colored coney grouper and clouds of beautiful reef fish such as the yellow-tailed snapper. Among our abundant population of eels (four major varieties) we have estimated some individuals to have heads the diameter of footballs.

There are shipwrecks of all type and vintages in Cape Verdean waters. Off of Ilha do Sal we have easy access to three very different and interesting wreck sites at depths of 9 to 12 meters. In the future wreck sites on nearby Boa Vista Island will be made available for scuba diving tourists.

For the watersports tourist who wants to mix in a day of game fishing with their Cape Verde Islands scuba diving vacation., Ilha do Sal has a world class wahoo fishery less than twenty minutes at sea from the dock at Santa Maria. Our very best fishing season is between July and October, however, wahoo is available almost nine months of the year.

Diving Sites in Sal


rayalmeida@post.harvard.edu
Washington, DC, USA 02740        
(202) 488-1993

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