About SURG - the Southern Underwater Research Group

Publications and articles about SCUBA diving in South Africa generally place Cape Town and the Peninsula alongside Sodwana Bay and Aliwal Shoal as one of the three best diving areas in the country. Acknowledged for its varied invertebrate life, colourful reefs and many wrecks, it is surprising that relatively little information about its underwater features exist. Guides on tropical fish and invertebrates are readily available, but the Cape marine environment is generally only described as part of guides covering the whole of southern Africa. For divers seeking more information about what they have seen trying to identify it becomes a tedious task; the information may be there, but it is hard to find.

SURG, the Southern Underwater Research Group, was founded in 2004 by two experienced amateur divers, Guido Zsilavecz and Peter Southwood. Both have a great interest in Cape Town's temperate waters, and had been sharing their knowledge and experiences informally with fellow divers. While there always was a certain level of interest by other divers in what they saw and what it could be, the availability of relatively cheap digital cameras in housings allowed more people to take photos, and sparked a greater level of interest. Both Peter and Guido started receiving regular requests for identification and information. While answering these questions helped those individuals asking them, it was however felt that the information would do more good if readily available.

The idea of forming a society of like-minded and interested divers emerged as SURG, and since founding membership has grown with Georgina Jones, Helene Zsilavecz and Andrew Taylor joining the group, apart from the many contributors without whom SURG could not function. The aim of SURG is simple: to share knowledge and information about the underwater environment, with an emphasis on the Cape Peninsula. This is done in two main ways:
  • Publications: SURG members are working on dive guides: "Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay", by Guido Zsilavecz, was published in 2005, "Nudibranchs of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay", also by Guido Zsilavecz, was published in 2007, and "A Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula", by Georgina Jones, was published in late 2008. A dive slate showing the more common marine animals of the Cape Peninsula has also been created. All of these are available from SURG (see the publications tab) and better Cape Town dive stores. In production are "Diver's Guide to the Cape Peninsula and False Bay", by Peter Southwood, and "Guide to the Klipfishes of South Africa", by Guido Zsilavecz. These books will be augmented by further volumes in the future.

  • This website. On this site it will be possible to ask questions, and have them answered. SURG members do not profess to know everything, but over the years have established connections with numerous experts of the marine environment on whose knowledge they can draw. SURG thus aims to form a connecting layer between the public and academia. Answers will be posted on the site under "Q and A".
Any interesting sightings or discoveries are posted under the "News" section, and submissions, especially if photos can be provided, are both most welcome and encouraged. Any articles of interest will be published under the "Articles" section, and submissions are welcome.

In these ways SURG hopes that this website forms a portal through which all divers in the greater Cape Town area, or for that matter the rest of the world, can learn more about the Cape's unique underwater environment, and share their experiences, sightings and discoveries with others. It is SURG's strong belief that the more people know about their environment, the more they will protect it, and the more we can all enjoy it.
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