Jun

6

Conditions:

Visibility: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 120 minutes

Max Depth: 9m

Details: My trip to Tasmania wasn’t going to be complete without seeing a Handfish. The Spotted Handfish is an endangered endemic species that’s only found in Tasmania and certain parts of Victoria. The Derwent River is home to a number of sites where the chance of a sighting is good. the section of river around Bellerive sounded like the best chance, so despite the gloomy wintery conditions, i gave it a shot and hired an ali tank from a local dive shop. After gearing up, i swam out till i was in about 8m and started the search. The first cool little critter i spotted were these tiny jellies. In hindsight i should have spent longer with them trying to nail a shot, but my mind was set on Spotted Handfish. After 40 minutes of swimming between around the 8-11m depth mark, i almost conceded that it wasn’t too be, but as always with wildlife, once you give up, one appears. I spotted my first handfish! I approached quietly and got some camera settings ready. I took one shot from a safe distance, but this was enough to spook it, and it was off…gone into the muck not to be found. Although disappointed i was glad i found one and continued the dive just looking for other critters. I found an Octopus and a Cobbler, and started heading back in after around an hours dive time. As i started my way back in i spotted another Spotted Handfish. This time it didn’t mind be photographed, and i spent a good 40 minutes with it, capturing shots from different angles. I even saw this one ‘walking’ on its adapted fins while raising its crest and dorsal fin. It was great to get some shots of this unique prehistoric little fish.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

4

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 15m

Details: After i thought i was done for the day, Bruce insisted i come down and dive The Rock again while they practiced deploying SMB’s. I’m not one to knock back a dive, so the gear was back out and off we went to the Breakwater. It turned into a good critter dive with a big Smooth Ray straight up, then a Draughtboard Shark, a couple of Weedy Seadragons and a Sea Spider.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

4

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 70minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: Day 4 and the other guys had returned to Hobart to fly home, so i thought i’d try to get in a couple more shore dives. Instead of diving the breakwater and heading to The Rock, I walked up through the scrub and over to the point down the gently sloping granite. Entry had to be timed carefully with the surge, and a quick entrance through the kelp with a quick decent. It was straight into about 17m of water here, and i think i got to about 20m. Not a lot of structure, but some nice sponge growth on some of the scattered rocks. From here, i planned to return to the Breakwater for the exit point via the Rock. I spent most of the time around the point and by the time i reached the rock i was running low on air. Some friendly Boarfish put on a good show at The Rock, and then it was a vline for the breakwater.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

3

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 22m

Details: Our shallower second dive was at a site called 27B. One decent there were masses of Yellow-tailed Pike that seemed to stay just far enough away to not be photographed. This site felt very exposed, and there was a fair bit of surge, especially on the safety stop. After exploring some of the outlying structure we returned along a wall which had a few small caves – One had a big orange sponge covered in yellow zooanthids that burst with colour. Not a bad dive, but not one of the better sites.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

3

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 40minutes

Max Depth: 38m

Details: Golden Bommies is reputably the best dive at Bicheno, some say Tasmania and even Australia. I don’t like rating sites against each other, but can agree that it is a world class dive…one of the best sea-whip dive i’ve ever had. Its deep and sitting in 40m is two large 10m high bommies about 20m apart. Both bommies are covered in invertebrate life, and looking through the masses of sea whips up to the surface as the sun peers back down is a sight i wont soon forget. Me and Hui filled up with Nitrox on this dive, and it was nice to have a little extra bottom time.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

2

Conditions:

Visibility: Night Dive

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 12m

Details: That night we did a night dive at Waubs Bay. I decided to leave the wide-angled lens on in case there were some Weedy Seadragons around, but didn’t have any luck. The first interesting critter was a Wavy Volute, a gastropod with zig zagged designs on its shell and mantle. The Banded Stingaree’s were less flight at night, but still didn’t like my approach while they were trying to sleep. Cowfish were also a bit stunned in the 4000 lumen torch beam and werent exactly happy to be woken up. One the way back, we spotted a Seahorse clutched to the base of a kelp stem, picking off mysid shrimp – a difficult subject with the fisheye lens, especially with a million mysid shrimp dancing around the light.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

2

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 45minutes

Max Depth: 22m

Details: Our second dive of the day was at Bird Rock…a system of swim throughs and tunnels beneath the large rock that is visible from the surface and known as Bird Rock. (e.g. The one covered in white bird poo, and usually containing a large number of roosting birds…today, a boisterous seal.) The dive began at the edge of the rock and descending down you enter an overhang formed by Bird Rock itself sitting on another large boulder. There were plenty of fish in this small chamber and the ceiling was covered in jewel anemones. Continuing our descent we followed the edge of the rock through small lane ways between the boulders which would eventually lead to small cave-like tunnels around the back of the rock. This had us sitting in around 20m and then we circumnavigated the last square shaped rock, and returned along the same route. At the start point, we then went around the back of the rock and found the phallic shaped sea whip covered in pink jewel-anemones beneath an overhang that Bruce seemed to get excited about. It was very photogenic. This was a shallow site compared to most of the deep water dives at Bicheno, but still plenty to see.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

2

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 45minutes

Max Depth: 28m

Details: Day Two at Bicheno began with a leisurely 9am start and then off to one of Bruce’s favorite sites, Trap Reef. This was another deep site with lush sponge and sea whip gardens covering the boulders scattered on the seabed which lay between a narrowing gully formed by massive granite boulders covered with zooanthids and sponge on their walls, and kelp on the top. A tip top dive site.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

1

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 15m

Details: Bicheno is know for its shore diving, and one of the easiest spots to get in is at the breakwater/boat ramp in Waubs Bay. The entry here is protected from the swell, with the only downside getting through the thick layer of kelp floating on the surface. Once down, you head out towards the point, along the gently sloping shoreline reef that is covered in kelp. There are some smaller rocks and bommies further out on the sand, but the destination is ‘The Rock’ which sits in about 15m and rises about 5m up into the water column. Along the way though, there is a good chance to see Weedy Seadragons. And this was the critter i was after on this dive. The Tasmanian subspecies of Weedy Seadragon is different to the ones on the mainland. It has a much redder colouration and a broader abdomen with apparently longer dorsal and pectoral fins. It was the tail that really stood out to me though, it seems much more ‘seahorse’ like and gave the impression that this was an earlier genetic form that the ones on the mainland. Luckily Hui spotted our first one only 10 minutes into the dive and a few more made an appearance along the way. A great shore dive.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

1

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: Part two of our dive trip in tassie was up to Bicheno. Bicheno is a beautiful little sea side down protected in all directions by granite outcrops. The granite extends into the water, and the outcrop known as Governor Island is what forms the great diving at Bicheno. Between the land and Governor island is a small channel or Gulch that forms a natural harbour and is the home of the local boat ramp. Launching the boat from here, its a short 2 minute journey around the other side of the small granite island and your at some awesome dive sites in up to 40m only 200m from shore.

The first dive was at The Canyon. An underwater valley betwen two massive granite boulders. The smaller boulders on the seabed are covered with sea whips and sponge gardens. While the walls of the larger boulders are covered in zooanthids.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

31

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 21m

Details: After diving Cathedral Caves, our second dive was going to be one of the smaller caves in Waterfall Bay. This wasn’t as vast as the cathedral cave system but still a great dive. The entrance to the cave was nice with some different anemones around and smaller fish. More zooanthid lined walls around the entrance. Again, very difficult to photograph.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

31

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 21m

Details: Today we headed down to Waterfall Bay to dive the Cathedral Cave complex – a labyrinth of tunnels and caves beneath massive sea arches. This is one of those sites that you just have to dive for yourself, since photos just cant capture the experience. It was like this area was designed by divers, for divers, although i doubt anyone could conceive such magnificent structures. After descending beneath one of the arches, you descend into about 20m and head into the cavernous spaces below. Various boulders strewn over the bottom conceal cracks forming the entrance to a number of different tunnels that snake their way through the cliffs. Entering some of the tunnels is tight and you burrow your way through the tunnels that seem to go on forever but eventually open up in more great caverns. One of the more memorable was entering Skull Cave with two massive glowing eyes pulsating before you as you leave the darkness of the tunnels behind you. A guide is absolutely essential for this dive, especially for the first couple of visits.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

30

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 40minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: After returning from our dives at Deep Glen Bay, we did a short surface interval and then headed down to the boat ramp to see if we could find any seahorses and swim with the seal that was hanging around. So after driving down and gearing up, i quickly realised i forget my hood..oh no…suck it up, your only hear once…but boy did it hurt! After 40 minutes so, i was deliriously cold. I did spot one seahorse, but it was hanging off the pylon un-cooperatively. There were lots of different crabs around, swimmer crabs, hermit crabs and ‘hairy’ decorator crabs..just enjoying the tuna offcuts the fisherman ditch over the edge.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

30

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: The second dive at Deep Glen Bay was on the opposite side to the wall, and was a bit of an exploratory dive. It turned out to be fantastic with massive granite boulders scattered on the descending seawalls, forming awesome swim through, caves etc. Lots of life around too, including a yellow sea spider floating mid water right at the end of the dive…making a great wide angle subject!

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

30

Conditions:

Visibility: 20m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 28m

Details: Day two at Eaglehawk and we ventured off north to Deep Glen Bay which is known as the site where survivors of the Blythe Star shipwreck came ashore. The first dive was on the wall running out to a point. The wall was covered in invertebrate life and was very colourful with yellow zooanthids, orange sponges and purple finger sponges. Some Bastard Trumpeter formed a big school at about 25m and circled around as we looked out into the blue. On the safety stop, the shallow section of the wall was covered in sea tulips being tossed around in the surge and upwelling against the wall.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

29

Conditions:

Visibility: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 30minutes

Max Depth: 38m

Details: I can only explain this dive in one way – ‘Narked off my tits!!!’. This is one of the deepest cold water dives i’ve done, and it felt like i was finally being initiated into the deep arts. The wreck itself was a little disappointing, and i probably should have pushed past 40m to get to below the hull line. It was very dark down there and, mixed with the narcosis, not many photos were keepers. On ascent there were a few large salps floating around to pass the stop time.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos:

May

29

Conditions:

Visibility: 10m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: This was Dive Number 1 of a trip to the East coast of Tasmania with Phil, Deb and Hui. The forecast was for wild SW winds and swells and i was expecting diving to be put on hold. However, the coast around Eaglehawk neck is protected from south westerly swell and with some of the largest sea cliffs in Australia, there is always a sheltered place to tuck into in one of the bights and bays. Our first stop was the Giant Kelp Forests of Munro Bight. Kelp Forests (Macrocystis pyrifera) used to be a feature of many coastal areas of Eastern Tasmania, but now only few remain. The one in Munro Bight has apparently made a bit of a comeback and this was one of the dives we were looking forward to. We arrived at the bight after a spectacular, albeit bumpy, ride down south from the boat ramp. This is the same bay were the SS Nord lies, which was going to be our second dive. We eaglery got in and explored the magnificent kelp forest. Fish life was down and the overcast conditions made it fairly dark, however blue water and moments of sun peaking through the canopy made some memorable diving.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X Inon z240 Strobes

Photos: