CLIMATE AND SEASONS – ABOVE AND BELOW THE SURFACE
We are in the Southern Hemisphere exactly at the 13th parallel, a stone’s throw from the Tropic of Capricorn located at the 23rd.
Nosy Be enjoys a favourable position sheltered from North-East to South-West by the Tsaratanana Massif of Madagascar.
This allows even during the rainy season, to be away from cyclones passing off the east coast of Madagascar, about 2000 km from our position.
The weather in Nosy Be never seems to change, the sun shines almost all year round and temperatures do not change much.
During the day you can go around even in the cooler periods (24° at night) in swimsuits and flip-flops and at most a cotton pullover for the evening in August and a long light pants can help.
There are three main seasons: the rainy season, which starts almost like a Swiss clock in mid-January and ends in mid-March, the dry season which covers almost the entire working season from April to October and the wet season which includes the last two months of the year, November and December.
In this annual cycle, almost imperceptible climatic changes take place until the peak of the new season.
The island’s vegetation gradually changes and the lush greenery begins to mix with drier areas of straw yellow which, however, in the eyes of tourists, will make the island one of the greenest islands I have ever seen.
The rainy season in Madagascar is characterized by two periods: night rains and rain h 24.
The nocturnal ones normally start at the beginning of November where there is rainfall and small tropical storms from 23:00 until 6:00 the following morning.
The first hours of the day will result with a predominantly cloudy sky and then open between 9:00 and 10:00 with a strong scorching sun.
At the end of December the rainfall intensifies, extending into the early hours of the morning and the weather gradually becomes unstable and for this reason, in order to ensure the best service for our divers, we give as a last date to return to Italy, mid December.
In January the weather is very uncertain and unstable, it can happen to have days with shining sun and very calm sea, but in a few minutes a storm can come and force us to stay in our room for most of the day.
The sea continues to be very rich in fish, perhaps we can say the richest period, but also very misleading and there is no website or sailor more navigated that can give us the right advice to follow for how to carry out our days.
It happens to get out of the water and find the sea as smooth as oil and you think: go it’s gone… the first dive is over and its appearance has completely changed with the rain that is pouring down!
Of course, the exact opposite can also happen.
There is not a great danger for cyclones, fortunately they almost always pass off the east coast of Madagascar, but it can happen that their tails arrive, making the sea very rough.
In this period the highest temperatures are recorded with a humidity rate between 70% and 90%. For February, by now all the Diving facilities in Nosy Be have suspended their activities to return home.
Now for a month and rains and thunderstorms, although now with these climate changes in place is no longer so easy to give such precise advice, are present day and night.
We do not advise you to reach Nosy Be between January and February and you can check the duration of each season in the table.
This season practically covers almost the entire period where diving and hiking take place in Nosy be.
From mid-March, as if by magic the rain ceases from one day to the next and all the water that has been poured begins to evaporate, creating a humidity of about 60-70%.
As soon as the rains are over, for a short period of time a transition season from March to May peeps out, which then leaves the island again in the hands of the shallows.
The vegetation is lush and dominates the whole island, a true paradise for landscape photography.
At the end of March the MANTA starts to come back to life again and is operational at the end of the month unless special requests from groups.
April The visibility considering that the rains have just ended is not bad, if you are used to dive in Italy, well… here is much better.
Thanks to a bit of suspension present the sea is rich in nutrients and there is fish in “industrial quantities”.
Going out to sea you can make encounters with large predators intent on finding their prey but visible only in situations of particular current (upstream).
Thanks to the currents the fish gather to feed on the food present in the water creating real walls, in particular the small and medium pelagic (monostigma snappers, ehrembergii, snapper, macolor, etc. etc.), they move in groups attracting the attention of their predators.
We can meet tazar (albacore tuna), carangidae, dogtooth tuna of abundant size, sailfish, whitetip sharks and until the end of May the gray sharks are very active and can be met in groups of even a dozen individuals … normally, the more current there is more fish there is and here the Moon, is the master.
There’s no shortage of benthic life, there never is.
In May, the waters begin to clear, the outside temperature as well as the water temperature is around 30°C.
Although the ocean begins to clean up, there is always an abundance of fish. Thanks to the plankton residues, special encounters can happen with the large filters that remain in the area.
It was in May 2012 that Mr. Indian gave me my first whale shark in Nosy Be. Going to sea you can see mobulas, minor whales, Omura’s whales, very shy animals but present in few seas of the world that are stationed in Nosy be for long months of the year.
June It begins to have a very good visibility due to the almost total disappearance of the plankton, surely this will lead to a decrease in the amount of fish, but it is not completely taken for granted, this Ocean always reserves many surprises, especially offshore or among the lush coral conformations rich in micro life.
July, as well as June, are the ideal months for people’s dosen’t like the scorching sun. The temperatures are pleasant and the dives are carried out with a few divers and in fact, it is the optimal situation for those who love to do underwater photography and video shooting without fear of falling behind, indeed, we Manta take advantage of these calmer moments to make some ‘material and enjoy diving together with 4/5 divers.
During the surface intervals, you can meet longirostris, bottlenose dolphins and sousa dolphins.
In the marine park of Nosy Tanikely the large groupers of Malabar and Takula proliferate as they are in the mating season.
Moving in the outer walls, on the Mozambique Canal, the Greys always keep us company with big tunas.
August the climate is excellent, the humidity has completely disappeared, few insects to feed geckos and chameleons because we are in the middle of the austral winter.
In this period begin to blow the first trade winds, but do not panic, the sea of Nosy Be is not famous for the surf waves, our sea is very predictable, if you go out dancing a little early in the morning, you come back after two dives, with the sea calm and vice versa.
Many tourists are coming, both for the closures of the offices, and because since mid-August the sea undergoes an explosion of life. The fish seems crazy and in a flash you can find in front of you remarkable shoals of fish that suddenly begin to create strange geometric shapes and not, it seems that these creatures want to communicate something, simply shimmering and swaying in large shoals.
The benthic fish increases immeasurably, the pelagic begins to occupy large areas of our sea, the sharks are becoming more and more frequent.
Around mid/end of August begins an activity that rips your heart out, dedicated to divers and non-divers.
You are in the sea during the navigation… a puff on the horizon, a splash… here we are… the passage has begun… they have arrived… the MEGATTERS!
September, the blowing giants, the Humpback whales, with a length that reaches 14/15 mt and a weight that is around 40 tons, reach the apex of their activities.
In the warm waters of the archipelago, these mammals will wean their weaning whales and teach them how to jump, despite their size, with delicacy and harmony; they will woo themselves with dances, jumping completely out of the water, they will mate, they will make us hear their singing underwater until around the middle of October.
The staff of Manta Diving formed from marine biologists, instructors and certified guides for the sighting of the cetaceans, carries out of WHALE WATCHING explaining and telling life and habits of these splendid marine mammals. Thanks even to your help, we record the HB Whale songs with the aid of hydrophones and photographing they, we can to cense the individuals that pass in the waters of Nosy be.
We will reach the end of the diving season with a little bit of humidity that varies from about 60% to 80% in December.
From October the sea begins to return to its usual calm. Finally the water temperatures begin to rise again reaching 29 ° C, the surface of the water boils, the passages are constantly being, the bonitos, small tuna like our palamites, make jumps above the surface, intent on eating large shoals of sardines and that’s how it is formed … the “mangianza”, a real food chain.
With “great joy”, finally comes some night rain that begins to mix the submerged plankton bringing to the surface the nectar of marine life.
The marine organisms are reaching the apex of their activities in mid-October, the birds begin their fishing by showing us the way to find the king of the Mozambique Channel, the largest fish in the world, the most peaceful and curious “WHALE SHARK”.
If you have never seen one and you are chasing it far and wide all over the world, we invite you to join us.
Here you will find them everywhere, intrigued by them swimming very close to us, scanning our strange shapes.
Often not far away, we find ourselves watching OMURA’S WHALE as well as COMMON MINKE WHALE feasting together with mobulas, making us realize the paradise we have landed in.
November the Ocean returns to be a deep blue oily table, the Sun is hot and in the intervals of surface an awning is a must!
Depending on the lunar phase and the tide you can meet grey sharks, eagle rays, tuna with disturbing dimensions and large shoals of fish, however, the visibility is not optimal but certainly takes second place given the meetings reserved for us.
The whale sharks sometimes come to pry on the stern of the boat so much to prevent us from getting into the water, but we recommend, no caresses. Here in Nosy Be these animals that are on the red list for endangered species (IUCN), enjoy excellent health, and if we want to continue to feel the emotions that transmit us must respect them.
December the plankton is now everywhere, large copper-colored lanes are created throughout the sea and the seabed begins to take on a dull color.
Whale sharks will keep us company until about the end of January, but already by the end of December it is starting to be difficult to spot them due to the thick layer of plankton that is created in the first meters of water.
This season, together with the months of July, August and September, are the two favourite periods for diving schools, so please contact us before your arrival.
If you are undecided about the week of your stay in Nosy Be, contact us, based on your needs and expectations we will be able to recommend the most suitable period for you, your family or your diving group and their companions.