PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ERIC BEAUME
To the southeast of Mbudya Island (located north of Dar es Salaam) lies Octopus Reef, which is approximately 1,000 meters in length and 250 meters in width. Laura’s Garden is the top section of this reef which sits at a depth of 8-10 meters.
Unfortunately, many of the reefs in Dar es Salaam have been badly damaged due to dynamite fishing, however, Laura’s Garden is not as badly damaged as most others nearby.
Although there are very few resident fish over the size of 30 cm on Laura’s Garden, due not just to dynamite fishing, but also just general over-fishing in the area, the coral and smaller fish life is remarkably good. Nudibranchs, crustaceans, starfish and colorful reef fish are fairly abundant. There are also numerous moray eels, the occasional ribbon eel and sometimes visiting green turtles.
Soldier and squirrel fish lurk under the overhangs and predatory fish such as lionfish, scorpionfish of various species, lizardfish and hawkfish abound. Small shoals of fusiliers add color to the reef, darting around in search of food. Anemones and clown fish are common around the larger outcrops.
Because of the sometimes benign conditions on the reef and the abundance of small marine life, this can be a very good spot for macro photography. It is also great for night dives (when weather conditions are suitable) and due to the shallow depth you can have a nice, long relaxing dive.
Access: By Boat
Dive Operator(s): Sea Breeze Marine Ltd. at Msasani Slipway
Difficulty: All divers
Average Depth: 10 meters
Max Depth: 12 meters
Currents: Tide dependent
Visibility: Okay ( 5-20 m)
- Abundant with corals and small marine life
- Sometimes visited by pelagic fish and turtles
- Shallow depth makes for a long dive and provides good lighting for underwater photography
- Very few large fish due to over fishing
- Seasonal swells can make for low-visibility conditions