3 January 2020 - SS Tuggerah
No wind and flat seas, ran down at 20 knots or so. Anchored first go, well not really as when I got to bottom it was just laying on the sand next to wreck towards front on western side. No current either. However, very overcast with smoke and cloud and a dirty layer from 20 to 35 metres meant it was like night on the bottom. Aaron took 5 mins to get to bottom and then was not keen to leave anchor (it took me ages to work out which way was the boiler). I went to boiler and prop and back. Then up. Got a bit better towards end as the sun came out from the cloud. Strange dive. Visibility fair.
4 January 2020 - Pizza Reef
Club boat dive, 3 boats and 14 divers. Little wind and no current, but a bit of NE swell and sea. Anchored on NE corner, actually on rocks off it. Moved to main reef. Clear to 10 m and then filthy. Viz on bottom less than 5 metres. Went across N side to cave and back. Found a blue devilfish near cave, same one we have seen a few times lately. Only one bastard trumpeter, no donuts. Lots of ladder-finned pomfrets and silver sweep at cave. Kelly found a tiny pipefish in front of cave. Back at anchor we went S to SE corner and back. Probably worse visibility since 2018 or earlier. Visibility very poor.
8 January 2020 - The Monuments
No boat dive as wind forecast very strong S. A little swell here and surgy most of the dive. Water much cleaner and warmer than the weekend, over 20C. Tide going down from high so got a bit dirtier towards the end. Went to 14.4m before turning around. Lots of normal nudibranchs, nothing special. Ron found a sea horse and a Bare Island anglerfish. A huge bullray back towards exit. Also a wobbegong near exit and half a dozen squid. Visibility good.
11 January 2020 - Shiprock
Blew 60 knots last night so did not plan to take boat out today. Ten members diving, only us here. Went in right at Fort Denison high tide, very slight current, almost non-existent whole dive really. Strange! Saw four moray eels, four pineapplefish, two small cuttlefish doing mating dance, a wobbegong shark, lots of kingfish through most of the dive, plenty of bream and small snapper shallow. Very nice easy 76 min dive with 21C water. Visibility fair.
15 January 2020 - Middle Ground North
Club boat dive. Smooth sea and no wind, but a little swell, long period, so a little bit of surge on bottom. Dirty on top but cleaner on bottom, perhaps 7 metres or so, could see reef from 10 m above. Reasonable 18.1C on bottom. Went SE first, lots of pieces of fine sea algae floating just off bottom. Some wandering anemones on sea whips at end, possibly tiger anemones. Back to anchor and then NW. Saw a pineapplefish just past here. Thousands of yellowtail and seapike here. Some nice nudibranchs and leatherjackets as well. Back to anchor and then up. Two mins of deco. After dive went to see seal which was sunbaking over Middle Ground. Nice dive. Visibility fair.
19 January 2020 - The Leap Deep
Had to cancel yesterday's club boat dive due to extremely strong S winds. Today no wind but large SE swell and very sloppy. Tried Whale Watching and Henry Head, too much wave action at HH, so came over here. Anchored off The Leap entry spot and then went E on bottom. Very warm, 21.0C! Two sea dragons, two small cuttlefish, a large cuttlefish, lots of madao and old wives, some black reef leatherjackets and plenty of nudibranchs. A really nice dive. Visibility good.
21 January 2020 - Bare Island Right
First totally sunny day for months, blue sky, no smoke. Went in past plaque and went down to just past the cave. Very warm, 22C shallow and 21 deeper. However, quite dirty, 3-4 m viz. Saw one RIF, one PPH, lots of nudbranchs, including doto, red-lined flabellina and the species we saw at Henry Head a month ago on the crimson flat sponge. A small moray eel, a large octopus, nice easy dive. Visibility poor.
22 January 2020 - JD Reef North
First time diving here since late November 2017. Artificial reef which was put down in October 2017. Consists of a star-shaped pattern, with four structures in the N, S and middle sections and three in the E and W ones. They are about 40 metres apart. We anchored near S section. I ran a rope to the middle section. Huge amount of growth now, lots of mado and similar fish on them, plenty of yellowtail on surfacing near them. Quite a few crabs and one crayfish. I did not have a good look as I was running the ropes. Need to go back again. Good dive. Visibility good.
25 January 2020 - Barrens Hut
Club boat dive to Tuggerah wreck, 3 boats, but two other clubs boats out as well. Very sloppy seas despite little wind all night. Anchored on wreck but very strong current. Decided not to dive, managed to get anchor out. Anchored behind Cave at Barrens. Still a strong current here, even on bottom there was some. Very warm 22C. Went N in false split, lots of bastard trumpeters and a couple of six-spined leatherjackets. Then back on outside to S of Tunnel. Did not go thru ass Phil did not have torch. Then to Tunnel and back to anchor. Had to move our anchor at start and end. Also moved Craig's into a hole as it was bouncing around. Nice dive, but a long day! Visibility very good.
1 February 2020 - Henry Head
Once again windy, strong NE which got even stronger. Also NE swell. Very dirty and 20C top 7 m but then clean and cold, 16.4C. No current as about low tide. Went S, saw six sea dragons, two of which were larger juveniles. One RIF, half a dozen reasonable sized squid. Back to anchor then saw two more sea dragons. Lots of nudibranchs. Excellent dive. John lost his fin at start but later Abyss found, gave to Wayne H, so he will get back tomorrow. I went down for a search at end as I did not even realise he lost it (he got back as someone found it). Visibility good.
2 February 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Club shore dive, Carol Martin's Memorial. Only had 165 bar in a 9 litre tank! Went in thru pool then S and SW to sand edge. Very dirty but warm 22C on top, below 7 metres cold 16.7C but over 10 m viz. Then to 15 Metre Reef and back from there. A tiny moray eel, lots of red-lined flabellinas, one RIF, some pink okenias, two dwarf firefish, some squid, usual friendly blue groper, a nice flathead, plenty of other nudibranchs, mado and more. Really nice dive followed by great lunch. Visibility good.
5 February 2020 - JD Reef North
Club boat dive. Decided to dive the artificial reef again to connect up two more groups of structures. Tried to anchor on centre ones but ended up on eastern ones. Water very warm 22C on top and 20C on bottom, but very dirty. Could not see from one structure to another, just a faint shadow. Went round these and found there are three like the map says. Then ran a reel across towards W and found the centre ones with the line I put down two weeks ago. Ran then end of this back towards the E-most one of this group then connected new ropes up and ran back to the E group. Then went back and collected the reel. Took all the dive. Now we have 13 structures connected, so next dive will be purely for looking. Lots of crabs like last time. Visibility very poor.
26 February 2020 - The Split
Club boat dive, 2 boats and 8 divers. First dive for three weeks due to record rainfalls, huge seas and then very dirty water. Today, flat seas, no wind, almost blue water, even in Port Hacking. Anchored S of Split. Went N, and then outside. Saw a few small kingfish, lots of silver sweep and one-spot pullers all over the place. Two donut nembrothas on first rock to S of end of Split. Back near anchor, found a tiny 2 mm nudi on purple ascidian, dark colour with orange or red dots and skirt. Perhaps a newborn donut nembrotha. A really great dive, considering we were not expecting much. Visibility very good.
29 February 2020 - Minmi Trench
Club dive, four boats and 16 divers. Little wind and no current despite incoming tide. Dirty top to bottom, but at times was cleaner. Was 5 to 7 m on bottom at first then less than 5 m. Strange. Anchored on top, a bit too far from wall than I would have liked, dragged anchor about 10 m closer, but easy to find way to wall and back. Went NW along sand to cave, then back a bit and into trench. Almost had a head-on with a very large wobbegong shark here. Back to SE end of trench and back to anchor. Lots of one-spot pullers and silver sweep. Only a reasonable dive, but better than nothing. Visibility poor.
1 March 2020 - SS Undola
Flat seas and little wind which came up a bit around 9 am. Tried to dive SS Tuggerah but a boat was fishing right over the boiler. Went down to Undola as did Peter Fields. Anchored second go on bow. Very dirty top to bottom, cold 16.8C on bottom, 21 on top. Went to stern where I saw Peter's divers. Back to bow and up. Two of my divers had gear problems so one did not dive at all and the other went straight back up. Hardly worth the effort really. Not too bad a run back in 10-16 kt NNW. Visibility poor.
6 March 2020 - Middle Ground
Belated club dive this week due to work. Big swell from ENE so had to dive deeper. Slight surge on reef top but none over sand. It was only 17.5C on top and a cold 15.2C on bottom. Viz was over 10 m. Somehow computer was on air when I had 32%. Used other OSTC as guiding computer. Went around reef, lots of silver sweep, seapike, one-spot pullers on N side especially. A bit dirtier on S side though. A really nice dive. Visibility good.
Dives from 11 to 16 March 2020 in Ticao Island, Philippines
11 March 2020 - San Miguel Island West
First dive of Philippines trip. Located on W side of San Miguel Island which is north of Ticao Island. Anchored in 8 m, dropped in and to W and slopping wall. Headed N, then back shallower to boat. Huge gorgonia at start deeper, some banded pipefish, a robust ghost pipefish, lots of species of nudibranch. Two small eels, a stonefish which was colorful. Very nice dive. Visibility good.
11 March 2020 - Udok Island East
Dropped into shallows and then to slopping wall. Went S. Two pipefish, then a very small eel. Ron found a huge anglerfish, black. A school of tiny black fish on bottom and lots of small sliver fish up higher. Lots of nudibranchs, some shrimp, one under a starfish, another in a featherstar. No deco on other computer. Boat picked us up about 150 m away. Another good dive. Visibility good.
11 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Manta Bowl is right in the middle of Ticao Pass. It rises up from 200 m to 14 m. Dropped right on top of the shallowest spot then swam NW eventually getting to 24 m (but I was about 2 m above bottom). No manta rays or whale sharks! Swam back a bit but nothing, although Ron thought he saw a thresher shark. Visibility poor.
12 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Did similar dive to yesterday and ended up at the same spot. Very strong current, had to pick in at 7 mins. Saw lots of trevally here and when ascending. Other boat saw 2 whale sharks and they must have been close to us because we heard their DM signaling. Visibility fair.
12 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Current a lot less, almost non-existent deeper. Ended up W of this morning, a bit deeper. Saw 2 blacktip reef sharks and one white-tipped reef shark. Lots of trevally as well and some barracuda. Then saw a medium sized whale shark, but it did not come real close. Got some poor video and photos. Others also saw one. More trevally as we ascended. Visibility good on bottom.
12 March 2020 - Bobbys Wall
This dive site is on NE corner of San Miguel Island. We went from a small bay to N and around the tip a bit.Quite a steep wall which was very, very colourful. Lots of clownfish and anemones, heaps of small yellow sea cucumbers, thousands. A large brown sea horse and a tiny one too. Plenty of colourful fish, short-finnned bannerfish and more.An orangu-tan crab in anemone. A reasonable current once we hit the N end of the island. One of the most colourful walls I have dived. Great dive. Visbility good.
13 March 2020 - Bobbys Wall
Started where we ended the dive yesterday. Whole dive we only went about 75 m at the most. There were a number of caves on wall, one a huge one with a back cave as well. Just as colourful as yesterday. Two pipefish, a few firefish, some nice pufferfish, lots of short and long-finned bannerfish. Some huge gorgonias and lots of seawhips. Finally worked out how to get camera and strobe to work on large distance objects, manual power and 1/2 setting. Excellent dive. Visibility good.
13 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Did similar dive to others. At the cleaning station saw Shaggy, the huge 14 m whale shark. Not close though. Saw another smaller one but mostly tail. When ascending saw a small manta. Visibility good.
13 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Same as other dives, only saw a small manta at start and an eagle ray near the end. Between this and the previous dive snorkelled with a whale shark and got very close. Visibility fair.
14 March 2020 - Parola (Lighthouse)
Right on N tip of San Miguel Island. Dropped into 8 m and went east till the steep slope. Headed N and then W around the tip. Slope more gentle on W side. Glass shrimp, porcelain crabs, dancing shrimp, banded shrimp, clownfish and anemones. Plenty of nudibranchs including a large green one. Very nice dive. Visibility good.
14 March 2020 - Heaven and Hell
Located on west side of the small island between San Miguel Island and the next island. Dropped into 7 m and swam to the slope which is quite gentle. A lot of damage from last typhoon, but some nice stuff. Saw lots of dancing shrimp, some glass shrimp in an anemone, many nudibranchs, some puffer fish and butterflyfish, a small snail. Visibility good.
14 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Same as other dives here. Saw possibly tail of whale shark or a manta, then a close encounter with a large mantra ray. Got pretty good video and some photos. Others saw more as normal. Visibility very good on bottom.
15 March 2020 - Hallea
Located SE corner of San Miguel Island. A sandy slope with some small walls and bommies. Went N. Three firefish in a small cave which also had blue garden eels, a pipefish and lots of colour. Also saw a small banded sea snake, a small eel, heaps of clownfish and anemones, plenty of nudibranchs. At the end some big bommies from 11 to 5 metres. Plenty of soft coral on here. Another good dive. Visibility good.
15 March 2020 - Bobbys Wall
Did same as dive 4227. Some garden eels at start. Saw the brown sea horse again, all the yellow cucumbers are still there. Heaps of different nudibranchs, a hairy shrimp and more. Really good dive. Visibility good.
15 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
This time we stayed around 16 m rather than go to the bottom. Very little current. Viz was best so far, bluish top to bottom except as doing safety stop. We had a large whale shark come from left and came quite close, got good video and photos. Brilliant. Near end huge amount of trevally, tuna and other species. Fantastic experience. Visibility very good.
16 March 2020 - Bellinos
Located W side of Udok Island near south end. Abellino was the first divemaster on Ticao Island. Very sharp limestone rocks on the shore here. Anchored in 7 m and dropped from here down a gully to a wall that went from 28 m or so to who knows what. I went to 34 m as some really large gorgonias down there, possibility of pygmy sea horses, but none seen. Lots of sea whips too, most with gobies on them. Plenty of nudibranchs, anemones and clownfish. Some dancing shrimp next to a bright pink round anemone, glass shrimp in anemones and a very fine sea spider. A few separate walls, at least three. Gradually worked our way up to 14 m and then back shallower to anchor. Great dive, with best visibility of trip. Visibility excellent.
16 March 2020 - Bellinos
This time we went south. There was a gradual slope with sand and coral outcrops. Same things seen as first dive but no gorgonias. Orangutan crab, glass shrimp, sea whip gobies, firefish, small eel. Ended up on slope from island. Water was warmer this dive, another very good dive. Visibility very good.
16 March 2020 - Manta Bowl
Jumped in a snorkelled with a whale shark before the dive. On dive stayed at 12 to 14 m. Saw probably four whale sharks, three definitely. One came within a metre or so. Got some great photos and video.Brilliant dive. Visibility very good.
Now in home quarantine due to corena virus, cannot leave home till 2 April.
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