What a difference a day makes! After yesterday's totally wrong forecast, over 3 m swells and long 13 secs period, today was flat and calm, only a little surge. Went in just past Carol's Plaque and went quickly to Sea Tulip Rocks then slow to SHC and then to 15 Metre Reef. Went along the reef to its end and then back the most direct route. Still many fine-lined tambjas on STR. Lots of nudibranchs, the same small school of seapike near the cave, lots of juvenile snapper near the end and a spiny gurnard on 15MR. Plenty of leatherjackets, including some eating a jellyfish. A few moray eels, one in a sponge near SHR. A nice relaxing dive, although a bit harder to get out as tide was high then. Visibility fair.
10 October 2023 - Inscription Point
A little wave action and outgoing tide, but little current. Visibility was 5 metres with lots of sand and jellies. Real surgy too. One of the six sea dragons we saw (one had eggs) at first view seemed to have no tail. However, closer examination showed it was almost totally in the sand. After taking a few photos I took hold of it and pulled it out of the sand. Relieved, it quickly swam away. I dug in the sand to try to find what had hold of it. Could not find anything, perhaps a serpent eel or a bobbit worm, who knows. Very strange. Saw two BBSH, a dwarf lionfish and two PPH. Possibly the most species and numbers of nudibranchs I have seen in Sydney for many years. Little Big Rock had at least 10 species, some were rarer ones including the soft coral mimic. Despite the conditions, a very nice dive. Visibility poor.
11 October 2023 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive. Seas sloppy but not too bad. Very dirty on top but better on bottom, say 5 metres. Lost Shanus as he flooded mask when descending and then drifted off from descent line as he fixed. Ended up on sand, surfaced and was a long way from the boat and swam back. Tim and I went to Cave, no donut nembrothas in front but lots of bastard trumpeters and yellowtail. A large flathead on W side and the two upsidedown pipefish are still in same spot as four weeks ago. No donuts on the S side either, but plenty of purple ascidians. Then back to anchor and cutting, a large eastern blue devilfish there. Then up. A good dive. Visibility poor.
12 October 2023 - Bare Island Right
Flooded drysuit as I forgot to zip up before going in, wondered why it was hard to put on, idiot! Dived once Mandy zipped me up, water everywhere, left boot full, right leg very wet but boot okay. Only got cold when the water went to 17C, okay once back in 18C. Colder water was 10 m viz, but rest was 5-7 m. Went normal route. An eagle ray before orange sponges and then a bullray. Then a sea dragon, small male, at Sea Tulip Rocks, not there on way back. A RIF past OHR. Then went on the rocks to near IR1 and then over to 15MR. A PPH here. Then back via SHC and Cave. No upsidedown pipefish. All the normal nudis and fish, plus a small sole shallow. A really good dive. Visibility good.
14 October 2023 - The Leap Deep
Club Frenchmans Bay BBQ Day. Three boats, 24 divers. Too rough at Henry Head, large S swell, so did a dive here. A bit of surge. Anchored to E of the main wall and went W into outgoing tide which was not strong. Viz was about 5-7 metres. Cold though, 17C. Then back. Saw a small yellow boxfish, schooling catfish, a blue devilfish, one horned shark. Not a huge amount of fishlife. Back to anchor and up. Still a nice dive, great BBQ afterwards. Drysuit leaked like a sieve, found a hole in the left ankle. Huge amount of water in left leg. Visibility fair.
15 October 2023 - The Leap
Steve V had to pull out as one fin strap broke as he put it on. Viz similar to yesterday and drifted in slight current. No sea dragons till near Inscription Point turnaround. Saw three all up, one with eggs, two big belly sea horses and quite a few nudibranchs. A small bullray at start and apparently another at end, but I did not see. Quite cold back in the wetsuit! Saw a lot of divers near the end and after the dive at least 30 arrived from a shop! Glad we were not diving later. A nice easy dive except for exit, high tide meant lots of water coming off the rocks. Tide appeared to change early, perhaps 9:00 am rather than 9:23 am. Visibility fair.
21 October 2023 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Last minute dive planned when the actual weather was much better than the forecast. A little bit of wave action off W point but easy to get into the water in between the sets. Went a bit more SW than normal and ended up near the S end of the wall. Viz was 8-10 metres mostly and a warm 20C. Went back to the S and found a pale yellow big belly sea horse on a sea tulip on a rock next to wall. Then, a bright yellow one on the large rock on the side nearest to the wall. Then normal way back. A few opera house nudis, a bright red PPH on the end of 15MR, a small fiddler-ray near The Cave. A few schools of luderick at the start and some of seapike near caves. Found the RIF near OHR but could not find the sea dragon near STR. A very good dive. Visibility good.
24 October 2023 - Bare Island Right
Too rough to go in off W point so went in past Carol's Plaque. Viz only poor above 12 m but perhaps 10 m below, but a degree cooler at 18C. Went to STR and looked for the sea dragon but could not find. Then went via outer rocks to SHR and then to OHR. Still lots of dead kelp here. Some interesting nudibranchs there. Then to the next rock where I found the smaller RIF but on the S side of the rock, not N like Saturday. Then went out over the dead kelp looking for sea dragon but again, no luck. Cut across to reef near IR1 and then to Concrete Block Rock (CBR). Kevin found a pure white PPH here. Then back via Cave and normal way. A few opera house nudis, but only their appendages, clinging to a hydroid. Strange! A few interesting nudis on the rocks and then the sea dragon which was in the kelp near OHR. Near here was the other larger RIF. Then back normal way, didn't really stop as by now had been down 75 minutes and low on air. Very good dive. Visibility good.
25 October 2023 - Inscription Point
Big southerly change early this morning but not affected here. Quite a strong outgoing tide, only 0.8 m difference so strange. A little bit of surge, lots of small jellies and some lion's mane jellyfish. Viz only 7 m and 19C. Did the normal route down, no sea dragons at all. Found the two BBSHs on the normal rock and another on the way back on the other rock. One red PPH and lots of nudibranchs. On the way back went higher up on the sand than normal, a huge bullray. Also a small wobbie under a rock. Did not see any anglerfish despite looking and only the one PPH. Could hear whales for second part of the dive but could not see any when we surfaced. A bit disappointing really. Visibility fair.
31 October 2023 - Bare Island Right
Started before high tide, out after. Not too bad getting in but much different getting out. Water right up under the bridge but worse was the fact that the wind was blowing over 30 knots from the west rather than the 10 knots when we started the dive. Waves were rolling in! Visibility varied from 4 to over 10 metres in three distinct areas. Best was near Sea Horse Corner, worst was from Opera House Rocks to The Cave and in between from entrance to Sea Horse Rock. Temperature mostly 19C but a degree cooler in the cleaner water. A new big belly sea horse seen thanks to directions from Vicki, don't think I've ever seen one quite that colour before. Also PPH, two white ones, a bright red one and a very gorgeous gold one (red and gold on 15MR). The smaller RIF near OHR, a flathead shallow, a few nudis, no sea dragon despite searching, but was dirty there. Glad we went, was worth it despite the exit. Visibility fair overall.
2 November 2023 - Shiprock
Bob H organised a dive. We went in six minutes before high and drifted for 30 minutes when the tide started running out. Did the normal route. A huge sole at start and then another one not as big. Two large flathead as well. Very few nudibranchs, I only saw some white with black edges. Plaque is totally unreadable now, no point keeping it clean as I have for almost 35 years. A large moray eel after turn and another back near pineapplefish. I saw three pineapplefish, two in normal spots, one under Bubble Cave and Ron saw another. Lots of leatherjackets as normal, a few whiting in theh shallows. Not the greatest dives. Visibility fair.
3 November 2023 - Inscription Point
Raining as we got there but stopped as we geared up. A little sloppy in and out but okay. Incoming tide but nothing felt till 35 mins into dive and then slight. Surgy though. Found the small black angler fish at Exit Rock, 8 m. One sea dragon, four BBSH, one PPH. Shown a whitish BIA just past Little Big Rock and Ron found another yellow one above higher sand area SW of the two anchors. Quite a few small cuttlefish, a large moray eel, heaps of nudibranchs but nothing special. A good dive. Visibility fair.
4 November 2023 - Middle Ground
Very sloppy and slow run out. Anchored off SE corner. Looks like some huge rocks have been moved just N of there. Viz 7-10 metres, mostly 20C but was 19C for a few minutes. Went around normal way, a few wobbegongs, although next group reported seven! One tiger anemone on S side, two donut nembrothas on S side (never seen there before) and a small cone shell on a gorgonia. Kelly found a tiny upsidedown pipefish on SE corner. Could not get a photo. Lots of seapike as well. Saw whales on the way out and heard all through the dive. A pod of 20 dusky dolphins swam near boat after the dive. A very good dive despite the seas and threatening weather. Visibility fair.Very sloppy and slow run out. Anchored off SE corner. Looks like some huge rocks have been moved just N of there. Viz 7-10 metres, mostly 20C but was 19C for a few minutes. Went around normal way, a few wobbegongs, although next group reported seven! One tiger anemone on S side, two donut nembrothas on S side (never seen there before) and a small cone shell on a gorgonia. Kelly found a tiny upsidedown pipefish on SE corner. Could not get a photo. Lots of seapike as well. Saw whales on the way out and heard all through the dive. A pod of 20 dusky dolphins swam near boat after the dive. A very good dive despite the seas and threatening weather. Visibility fair.
7 November 2023 - Inscription Point
What a great dive! Flat seas, just after low tide, 20C and very little current but a little surge. Viz of up to 10 metres deeper. Saw at least 7 PPH, three BBSH, two painted anglerfish, orange/red and orange/yellow, tiny. Both past Big Rock. Another BIA before. Others saw two more, the ones I saw last Friday. Two tiny upsidedown pipefish just near sand edge, bigger than Saturday's one, but not by much. Some really good nudibranchs too (honey-coloured okenia and yellow-ridged ceratosoma now called Miamira flavicostata) and a few cuttlefish. One of my last dives with this wetsuit, 8 years old, as I ordered a new one yesterday! Visibility fair to good.
8 November 2023 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Millpond seas, went in off W point. Hit the Wall a bit S of normal spot. Water 19C here but 20 m viz. Ron found the BBSH on the large rock, had moved from N side to S side. Mandy found the other one, moved about 5 m S. Quite a few PPH, including two on the rocks near the wall. A large cuttlefish here too. Two very small upsidedown pipefish back on the smaller wall and annother PPH. A few good nudibranchs here too, a large moray eel and a small cuttlefish. On the Deep Concrete Block there were at least five fine-lined tambjas. On 15MR there were more nudis, two pipefish (not sure what species, could not photograph as normal) and the gold PPH. The white one could not be found. Then across to SHC, two large upsidedown pipefish in the normal spot, hid before Ron could see them. Then the white PPH on Concrete Block Rock and the dark brown BBSH that we first saw 8 days ago. Running a bit low on air by now as over 60 mins in the water. Looked for RIF and sea dragon but none seen. Could not find the white PPH on OHR but there were some nice nudibranchs. Two bottom stirring divers seen here, dirtied the water up all the way back to STR. A great dive. Visibility very good deep and fair shallower.
9 November 2023 - Inscription Point
What a great dive! Flat seas, just after low tide, 20C and very little current but a little surge. Viz of up to 10 metres deeper. Saw at least 7 PPH, three BBSH, two painted anglerfish, orange/red and orange/yellow, tiny. Both past Big Rock. Another BIA before. Others saw two more, the ones I saw last Friday. Two tiny upsidedown pipefish just near sand edge, bigger than Saturday's one, but not by much. Two sea spiders as well. Some really good nudibranchs too (honey-coloured okenia and yellow-ridged ceratosoma now called Miamira flavicostata) and a few cuttlefish. An excellent dive. Visibility fair to good.
10 November 2023 - Inscription Point
Earlier dive so closer to high tide. Cold again below 5 m, but almost 20 m viz till we got back near exit when it dropped to 12-15m. Very little current but still some surge. Went all the way past Big Rock but long constant swim back as Ron low on air by then. Saw at least four PPH, two new ones not seen on past two dives. Saw the three BBSH but no sea dragons at all. Lots and lots of nudibranchs, all common species but some were very young ones. The black BIA was not on Exit Rock and could not find any of the other anglerfish seen this week. They seem to have moved. A good dive, but nothing like the others this week. Visibility very good.
11 November 2023 - Henry Head
Was supposed to be Bill Rowland Memorial Tuggerah dive but had to cancel as forecast was strong NE winds and NE swell. It was just that, rough and 13 kts NE. This was totally protected and we dived right after high tide, very cold 17C on bottom but 15 m viz. Much warmer on safety stop, 20C, but dirtier. A bit of outgoing (S) current but not too bad, a little surge. Went S on sand and back closer to the main reef wall. A nice sea spider although Kelly said she saw 9. A few small moray eels, lots of nudibranchs, a great yellow bubbly nudibranch the highlight. No sea dragons, PPH or RIF which is still disappointing as we used to see them here all the time. All the usual other species here, especially black reef leatherjackets. A nice dive. Visibility good.
14 November 2023 - Inscription Point
High tide and a bit of wave action, easy in, harder out. Surgy too, but not real bad. Mostly 20C but 19C on the sand. No sea dragons. Tried to take some time lapse video but somehow it reverted to normal video. WIll try again. Saw five PPH, including a new red one with huge belly up near upper sand area. Another smaller brown one with it. Three BBSH, the others saw the white BIA but I missed it due to videoing. The miamira is still on the same rock as last Thursday. Two other great species black spot jurunna (two of them) and Cadlinella ornatissima (yellow with pink tipped white cerata). The black BIA is still missing. Nice dive. Visibility fair.
19 November 2023 - Inscription Point
Huge seas on Friday so amazing that by yesterday it had dropped to enable diving yesterday. Today was even better apparently. Went in from lower rock. Lots of whale snot, especially shallower. Deeper it was 10-12 metres viz and blue, temp 21C for most of dive but dropped to 20C for the last quarter. Slight incoming current, high after noon. Lots of nudibranchs, only two sea dragons but four BBSH, two of which are new, E of Big Rock. Found a crested horn shark with an egg partially out. I grabbed the tendrils and it came out, so I put it in a hole. The miamira was on another rock next to where it has been for the past month. A bit surgier once we got above 15 metres or so. Dirtier closer in as well. A nice easy dive. Visibility good.
22 November 2023 - Bare Island Not So Deep Wall
Went in off W point, easy, just needed to judge it as coming to low tide. Went W to NSDW and then back via 15MR. Viz was 7-8 m deeper and above 12 m was 4-5 m. Also warmer by 2C in shallower water (19C deeper). Quite a few nudis, could not find the white or gold PPH on 15MR but did find a smaller brown one. The upsidedown pipefish is still at SHC, has eggs, didn't have two weeks ago. Then to the white PPH on Block Rock and then to the brown BBSH and there is now a smaller yellow one as well. Then to the top of reef above Cave, a spindle cowrie. Much warmer here. Then back over wall to look for RIF and sea dragon, none seen. no PPH on OHR either. Then back to exit, Ron found two tiny pipefish, one near outboard and one near his exit. Very nice dive. Visibility fair.
23 November 2023 - Inscription Point
First dive with new close-up lens. Worked good once I got used to it. Southerly wind and SE swell. Quite calm and looked good from the surface but very dirty in the water and a fair bit of surge. Also at times lots of sand floating around, perhaps from the wharf construction. Water was warmer at 20C, two days ago it was 17C here. Looked for the baby sea dragons others saw here a few days ago but no luck. Two sea dragons with eggs, one with growth on them and the other mostly missing eggs. Saw five big belly sea horses as per Leap Dive on Sunday with the extra one being one seen for ages. Lots of nudibranchs, including Limacia ornata. Could not find the miamira nudibranch. A few large flounder/sole, three or four PPH, no anglerfish but saw a small pipefish. A nice dive despite the poor conditions. Visibility poor.
25 November 2023 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive, Greg had to pull out as one diver got sick and since his son was coming too, they were down to just the two of them. Too rough to go to Osborne Shoals so did Pizza. Mostly smallish slop but every now and then some real big ones (2.6 m) came through, ENE. Dirty and warm on top but cleaner and colder (18C) on the bottom. Reasonable current from N. Anchored NE corner and had to move anchor to better spot, but problems with this after the dive! Lots of yellowtail and one-spot pullers on N side, bastard trumpeters near cave and also two large kingfish. Four donut nembrothas, three in front of cave. Others saw some N of anchor. A nice pygmy pipehorse and refound one of the tiny upsidedown pipefish we saw six weeks ago. Still the same size. Then back to the anchor. Did not have camera due to rough conditions, so no photos. Good dive. Visibility fair.
25 November 2023 - Pizza Reef
Could not get the anchor out, tried heaps of times but no go. Went down and found the chain was wrapped around the rock and the anchor had slipped into a corner where it would never have come out. Freed chain and then anchor and sent it up on lift bag. Did a bluewater ascent and Kelly picked me up. Eight minute dive with two minutes safety stop. Visibility fair.
26 November 2023 - Henry Head
Totally different conditions to yesterday, sunny most of the time, flat seas. Anchored right near the Admiralty anchor. Gary lost his TG-6 which fell out of the housing as it was not closed properly. Probably under boat, will look for it next time. Viz about 6-8 m but cold 17C. Went S with slight tide, just after high. Lots of sea spiders, I saw at least four. Many nudibranchs but did not see some that club members who dived here yesterday saw. A few schools of yellowtail, more nudibranchs, a tiny tiny yellow boxfish, no photo as it moved too quickly. A very nice dive. Visibility fair.
1 December 2023 - Inscription Point
First dive with my new Seatec wetsuit, got 8 years out of the last one. Cold 17C today and I was so much warmer than last weekend. A bit of wave action as nearing high tide. Quite surgy, especially above 10 m. The black BIA is back and we also found the grey one past Little Big Rock. Four BBSH, although did not find the second one on the split rock till coming back. Two sea dragons, both with remanents of eggs. Three PPH, all near each other past LBR. Came back shallower, the second sea dragon up here. A cuttlefish, lots of nudibranchs, plenty of other fish too. A really nice dive but the surge not so great. Visibility fair.
2 December 2023 - Barrens Hut/The Split
Much better seas than last weekend, but still a little sloppy. S wind but slight current from the N meant we hung facing the land with anchor back under the boat. Got to the bottom and found I had flooded my camera housing. Oring sticking out again! Luckily the camera and housing survived. Went up Split to N and then N again. Lots of changes here, at least a metre of sand missing. Looks so different with boulders that we previously only a metre out of sand, now over two metres and triple the size lengthwise. Even where the donuts are found has changed, rather than close to the sand it is standing high. None seen at all, even most purple ascidians are gone. Back along the sand edge, more changes and can swim through under the huge rock and main reef where fuel tank is. Has not been like this for at least 25 years. Then to Cave. Lost buddy here and had to come back to find him. Then to anchor and up. Buddy did not dump air so he dragged the crossover line to the surface and me with him! Went back down and did safety stop. Came up way too quick but luckily both okay. A nice but uninteresting dive. Visibility poor.
3 December 2023 - The Monuments
Club Xmas Party. About 16 divers I think. Millpond seas, dirty on top but colder 18C below, perhaps 4-5 metres. Drifted W in slight current. Two sea dragons, one yellow BBSH, one pink PPH, a few nice nudibranchs and flatworms and all the usual ones. Camera could not be used as fogged up as must be still damp in housing. Lots of moray eels, at least 8, one huge and two very small ones. A few cuttlefish and all the usual fish. A nice dive. Great party afterwards. Visibility poor.
5 December 2023 - Pizza Reef
Flat seas and little wind, slight current from N. Anchored N end of the gutter. Dirty to 20 m then cleaner, but on way back up cleaner from 12 metres. Still cold at 17C, but 21 on surface. Went to Cave, two donut nembrothas in front, lots of seapike and some bastard trumpeters. Second group saw a blue devilfish in the cave. Then down W side, another donut, then the tiny upsidedown pipefish, still no bigger. No donuts on the S end, lost Geoff here and refound him NE corner. Then out in front of main reef on N side, four more donuts. Then back to anchor and up. Nice dive. Visibility poor.
7 December 2023 - Bare Island Isolated Reef
Relatively flat seas but not the best visibility. Ranged from 5-7 metres in the shallows to 2-3 metres deeper with some 3-4 metres patches. Did Isolated Reef 1, no current despite outgoing tide. Water 18C deeper and 22C shallow. Found the elusive sea dragon, near STR. Also two pipefish near there too. A nice bright red PPH on OHR. No RIF. Some nice nudibranchs all over the place, but nothing exciting. The white PPH is still on BR (Block Rock) near SHC and yellow BBSH in same spot, but the brown one was missing. An boarfish near the Cave and a tiny yellow thingamajig (idiomysis) near the Outboard. Also quite a few small cuttlefish, a large sole, a large octopus, Was still a great 76 minute dive. Visibility very poor.
8 December 2023 - Barrens Hut/The Split
Double dive on Russ Jones' new boat. Went well. Anchored right at S end of The Split. Dirty to 20 m and then cleaner, much better than last Saturday, still cold at 17C but mostly 18C. Went up Split and then N, found one donut nembrotha. Back on the outside to Cave and through. Then back to anchor. Lots of one-spot pullers all over the place, bastard trumpeters, red morwong, blue morwong and a wobbegong. Good dive. Visibility good.
8 December 2023 - Reka 5
Reka dived in Phil's wetsuit as her drysuit flooded first dive. Amazingly it almost fitted her and she did not get too cold. Russ didn't have GPS for Pizza and we ended up here which is halfway between Maccas and Hungry Jacks. Went N and then back a bit shallower then back out deeper and then N again, found anchor a little shallower. Huge amount of fish. Yellowtail, one-spot pullers, silver sweep all over the reef. Saw a dozen blackfish or luderick go flying past too. Lots of purple ascidians and I saw a donut nembrotha but Reka saw four. A great dive. Visibility good.
9 December 2023 - Inscription Point
Did not get enough divers for the club boat dive to get any in my boat, so I organised a shore dive. A few waves coming in when we arrived but it was an easy entry and exit. Dirty above 10 m but only a little warmer at 19C. 17C on the bottom and 4-5 metres viz, outgoing tide. Black BIA not there, but found four of five BBSHs. Saw a total of 10 PPH, 6 on two rocks just past LBR and 4 more shallower on the way back. No grey BIA, two sea dragons, two small upsidedown pipefish that I first saw on 7 November. A couple of small cuttlefish, lots of nudibranchs, a nice dive. Visibility poor.
11 December 2023 - Inscription Point
My 200th dive with Ron Walsh. We did a great 92 minute dive this morning. Visibility was over 10 metres just after high but by the end of the dive had dropped to perhaps 5-7 m. Water temperature up significantly to 20C with occasional 19 patches. Five big belly sea horses, only three pygmies, no idea where the rest went, two upsidedown pipefish (same spot for over 6 weeks), one sea dragon and heaps of nudibranchs, including some rarer ones. Also saw the white BIA but the black one is still missing. Some small cuttlefish and at the end 10 smallish squid. Very good dive. Visibility good.
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