April Shore Dives

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After our weekend trip to Barwon Heads in early April not much has happened on the diving front. Weather and the ocean are slowly getting cooler as we are slowly heading towards the winter months. Autumn also means more storms, but luckily we have been fairly lucky on that front so far. While he haven’t done any boat dives since Barwon Heads we have been still been able to do at least few shore dives each weekend.

We have had an influx of new members too, which has meant slightly less time for photography. While I don’t mind watching after new divers every now and then it’s also nice to have dives where you can mainly focus on photography. On the other hand it’s good to have some new blood, particularly people who are not scared of diving even in the winter. I have also settled in my role as the new dive coordinator for our dive club. The job has kept my bit busier than I anticipated but I’m still enjoying it for the most part.

For the second weekend of April we went for some shore dives on the Mornington Peninsula. It was a pretty busy weekend and we had lots of new people with us. Having so many inexperienced divers with us lead to two issues. First of all, we ran out club weights and only found out while down on the coast since some people had seriously underestimated the amount of weight they need. And we could have used more experienced divers too to watch after the never. In the end we didn’t have any real incidents, but things could still have gone lot more more smoothly.

For the first dive we had decided to visit Flinders Pier. Checking out Weedy Seadragons is always a cool experience for anyone who hasn’t dived in temperate Australian waters before. Unfortunately the conditions were less than stellar there, for some reason visibility was extremely poor and there were some waves too. Surely not the best combination for getting new people in the water! In the end few people had to sit out the dives since we simply didn’t have enough weights to get everyone underwater. While some people saw some cool stuff, including a baby shark and a cuttlefish, the dive in general was bit of mess and rather disappointing.

Luckily our second dive worked out better. We moved over to Rye and redistributed the weights best we could. This still left some people somewhat underweighted, but at least everyone was able to stay under this time. We saw the usual fish life and some crabs. We also had a quick surprise visit from a seal that was swimming around the pier! Apart from few minor issues this was quite an enjoyable dive.

During the dive we also visited Elsa’s Reef again. Unfortunately the artificial reef has suffered some serious damage, either from the recent storms or from divers. Main structure has partially collapsed and the mirror was broken too. Quite a shame, I was really looking  forward to seeing the spider crabs there in May. I guess the reef should still form a nice habitat for marine life in a year or two.’

A week later we headed back to Mornington Peninsula. This time things were less busy and everyone had at least some experience with local diving. This time I was diving with Seth and Mathilde. Debbie and Cameron were with us too.

We started out with a decent dive at Blairgowrie. As usual I put my macro lens on for some nudibranch shots. Unfortunately I came back slightly disappointed. While we saw plenty of nudibranchs pretty much all of them were short-tails. While they are pretty enough, I was hoping for some more variety. Oh well, it must be the time of the year as many nudibranchs are seasonal.

To finish up the day we hopped in for a night dive at Rye. While we didn’t see anything that special on this dive it was still a good one. There were plenty of seahorses and crabs along with the usual fish life. And the seal was there again, this time he spent lot more time following us around too. A couple of times he got really close to us, unfortunately photographing a seal at night with a macro lens on is pretty much impossible. Still, it was a nice extra for an already enjoyable dive.

And finally, on the 25th April we had a quick dive in the Point Cook marine sanctuary with Adrian. With strong northerlies blowing we had opted for something close to the city. This worked out nicely since we were mainly testing out Adrian’s new Otter drysuit.

Point Cook is supposed to be a pretty good dive close to the city with rich fish life and some bigger critters too, including rays and the occasional shark. Unfortunately this is only the case in summer. We went there in autumn and only saw a total of two fish. One of them was a decent size dusky morwong, a nice surprise on an otherwise boring dive. At least we got Adrian’s suit tested and after closing the zipper properly found it performing well too. Should be lot comfortable than diving in his old “dry”suit with massive leaks!

The site might be worth another visit next summer, but apparently during the colder months it’s not really worth diving unless truly desperate.

Apart from the superb boat trip in early April rest of the month has been somewhat mediocre dive-wise. Luckily there’s another Mt Gambier trip coming up soon so I can look forward to some excellent diving and superb visibility again!

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