Dive Number: 25 27/03/2010 13.11 Portarlington Pier
Wind: 15-20 knot Southerlies
Tide: 1.5hours past 0.87 high tide at Geelong
Conditions: The water column was full of sediments as i’ve come to expect at Portarlington Pier. Apparently caused by the mussell boats emptying their sump. Visibility wasn’t all that bad though, but it’s the biggest muck dive on the Bellarine Peninsula. No surge or current and flat surface conditions, the day was overcast with low ambient light making it dark under the peir and hard to achieve focus.
Bottom Type: Mud/sediment covered bottom easily stirred up, with pier pylons.
Water Temp: 22c
Bottom Time: 80 minutes
Max Depth: 4.3m (outside peir) Generally 2.5 m
Air usage: 70bar/1000psi
SAC: 8.5 litres/min
Details: I created another funnel snoot for my second strobe so thought i’d attempt some dual strobe snooting. This was a very difficult place to experiment, since any contact with the bottom clouded the surrounding water, and the critters weren’t very keen to have snoots stuck in their face. The biggest highlight (and shock) was seeing a massive Boarfish near the start of the breakwater. The first one i’ve seen on a shore dive, and not a place i would have expected to see one!
Camera Details: Canon 100mm macro, dual SS200 strobe with funnel snoots.
Dive Report: Swimming out there were large schools of whiting in the shallows. I was looking for some small macro subjects to try out some snoot photography, but everything i approached wasn’t very cooperative. Blennies, although very curious, just dont stay still long enough to position the strobes. So i had to remove the snoots to photograph this blenny, not a great shot, but it was a quiet day, and its all i got! Is thier one in the bottle?
I spent way to long following around this fish, but it just wouldn’t stop. I had to fire off this shot just to get an ID shot of it…i think its some type of gunnard. It half flies, have runns on the ground with little feet under its wings…strange cirtter!
There were a few Stinkfish around, but they kept diving down holes as i approached. I decided to call off the snoot photography and headed out the back of the pier, where i’ve never been before. There were about 200 11 armed starfish all stacked side by side, on a gentle slop into deeper water. It was kind of creepy, so i moved on pretty quickly and around the back of the breakwater. Out of the rock crevices came the first fish that was actually happy to see me..a Boarfish! WTF!!! At Portarlington??? I would never have believed it if i hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Its a fish i’d recently been trying to find a shore diving site to see it, but submitted to the fact that its a deeper water fish and i’d have to get to Pope’s eye (or perhaps Boarfish reef :) to photography one. Of course when you see such great unexpected monsters you always have a macro lens on, so i had to make do with a few head shots.
It was a very freindly fish and swam around me a number of times before dissappearing. Apparently this species is too friendly for its own good which makes it an easy target for spearfishers with no spirit of adventurer..probably the reason i’ve never seen one on a shore dive.
I also read that Boarfish are one of the only fish that feed on Brittlestars. I’m guessing this is how it came to evolve such a bizaar nose and mouth. Brittlestars are very common under the rocks around Portarlington, so i’m guessing they were probably very common around here and are just overfished. I assume they could use thier nose to get under rocks and pull out the brittle stars, and the lack of Boarfish in the area, is why the populations of brittle stars are so big.