Oct

15

Date: 15th October 2017

Conditions:

Visibilty:

Water Temp: 14c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 6m

Details: Another forage around Portarlington Pier to see what goodies have been stirred up, with a few old bottles being found. Underneath the original pier is very dark now, and i couldn’t spot any nudibranch activity. The old reliable spot along the back wall turned up a couple of species; a Phyllodesmium Serratum and a Flabellina poenicia. Plus some type of egg cluster.

Camera Details: Canon 100mm, 1 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Oct

7

Date: 7th October 2017

Conditions:

Visibilty:

Water Temp: 14c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 6m

Details: The new Portarlington Marina is pretty much complete, and as part of the upgrade the existing pier has had a new concrete groyne wall constructed. This has had the affect of the currents scouring out a channel underneath it, revealing a section of seabed from about 20-30 years ago. Apart from the few vintage coke cans and old milk bottles it exposed, it also revealed stratified layers of scallop shells….layers 20 centimeters thick. My father always speaks of how the scallop dredgers destroyed outer Corio bay, and how prolific scallops were off the bellarine peninsula coastline. This was some pretty damning proof he was right. I suspect the dredging of the shipping channels is continuing to lay sediment over the ‘sand barrens’ that make up habitat to support scallop and other benthic communities.

Anyway, apart from the foraging around, i did find a couple of interesting subjects. A unusual colouration of a philinopsis nudibranch. (Philinopsis speciosa ???) And a live example of an Ascidian with the most amazing patterns on its ‘skin’, that i’d only found an dead example of before. If anyone know what this is, i’d love to know.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Feb

18

Date: 18th February 2017

Conditions:

Visibilty: Night Dive

Water Temp: 18c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: A good night dive at Portarlington. This area always suffers from cloudy vis, making photography difficult, but some good subjects around. A couple of blue-ringed Octopus, my first Tamja Verconis nudibranch i’d ever seen at this site (laying eggs too), and the usual dumpling squid. An unusual site was a Crested Weedfish swimming up into the water column to feed. Watching anemones munching on polycaete worms was another interesting thing to observe.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Feb

5

Date: 5th February 2016

Conditions:

Visibilty: Night

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 110minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: Strong easterly winds nearly saw us call off the dive at Steeles Rocks, due to sounds of swell pushing up on the beach. So instead we headed to Portarlington Pier which was marginally more protected by the break wall. Despite being pretty mucky it was a great dive. Squid straight off in the shallows, and lots of flatworms swimming midwater plus a few Hoplodoris nodulosa Nudibranchs on the ground. Some Gurnard and stinkfish were skulking around the muck and a baby Goatfish found a small mussel shell to call home for the night. The biggest highlights came on the way back in, with a cute Short-headed Seahorse clinging onto some kelp and feeding on the small shrimp and crustaceans that pasted by the in the gentle rocking water. Just when i thought i was done for the night and Blue-ringed Octopus hunted near the new pier pylons. A pipefish was a lucky escape from its grasp.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm, 1 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Dec

27

Date: 27th December 2015

Conditions:

Visibilty: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: I hadn’t been to Portarlington Pier for a while (since a quick dive to view the new pier). The new pylons are starting to be covered up with fanworms, sponge, starfish etc and it wont be long until the marine growth takes up every square inch. There wasn’t much under the old pier, so i headed around the corner and there was lots of fish life. Big schools of trevally, salmon and the usual moonlighters, goatfish and zebrafish. An unusual worm was moving over the weed too…these are usually only see these at night or under rocks. I had funny photographing the Tasmanian Blennies and another import Goby that was out looking for a feed. Lots of weedfish around today too.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

21

Conditions:

Visibility: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: No photos on this dive. Just a fossick around the new pylons that have been driven in for the new jetty.

Photos:

Jun

16

Conditions:

Visibilty: 3m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: There wasn’t a lot of macro life around today at Portarlington but large schools of salmon around the end of the pier.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Feb

15

Dive Number: 551 15/02/2014 Portarlington Pier

Conditions:

Visibilty: 4m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: A macro dive at the mucky Portarlington pier. I spotted a seahorse on this dive too, but it was too dirty to get any decent pics.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

9

Dive Number: 511 09/11/2013 Portarlington Pier

Conditions: ?

Visibilty: 4m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time:50minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: A PhD student from Melbourne University contacted me about sites containing artifical reefs structures near natural reefs. She asked if i had dived the reef balls off the end of Portarlington Pier…this was the first i’d heard of them! So i decided to check them out. The vis was miserable, and the reef balls were fairly uninteresting. Not much seemed to be inhabiting them bar a few small crabs, a couple of blennies and small biscuit stars. I may have to check these out one day when the vis is better.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

15

Dive Number: 476 15/06/2013 Portarlington Pier

Conditions: ?

Visibilty: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: While my strobe was away being fixed, I decided to try my hand at video which I may upload in the future. Most dives in April and May will be video with the occasional ambient light/torch light photo. Dive 479 is my first dive back with the camera.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm I-Torch 4

Photos:

Feb

2

Dive Number: 435 02/02/2013 Portarlington Pier

Conditions: ??

Visibilty: 3m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 3m

Details: Despite the ordinary vis, it was a nice dive with a few nudi’s and a blue-ringed octopus.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Nov

2

Dive Number: 396 02/11/2012 Portarlington Pier

Conditions:

Visibilty: 5m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 60minutes

Max Depth: 4m

Details: First dive back in australia…so what compares to the Maldives? Portarlington pier…ha…but i do like the macro life here. Lots of flatworms around today

Camera Details: Canon 60mm, 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Aug

12

Dive Number: 342 12/08/12 ??.??, Portarlington Pier

Wind: ???

Tide: ???

Conditions: ???

Visibilty: 6m

Water Temp: 11.2c

Bottom Time:68minutes

Max Depth: 3.4m

Air usage:

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:

Camera Details: Canon 60mm , SS200 Strobe

Photos: I had a great dive at Portarlington Pier yesterday i thought i’d dive it again. A nice suite of nudi’s and flatworms around. Plus Pygmy Squid and Ring Pipefish.

Aug

11

Dive Number: 341 11/08/12 ??.??, Portarlington Pier

Wind: ???

Tide: ???

Conditions: ???

Visibilty: 6m

Water Temp: 10.4c

Bottom Time: 67minutes

Max Depth: 3.5m

Air usage:

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: Lewis in his Shore dives of Victoria book states that Portarlington Pier was the best pier dives in Port Phillip Bay. I’ve always thought he was off his head, but i’m starting to realise where he is coming from. Before Blairgowrie Pier came along (which is a relatively new construction and may not have existed at the time of his publication), portarlington pier is definently muck central..so if muck critters are your thing, this dive would go near the top of your list. The species niche diversity is very similar to Blairgowrie. It always has a good array of nudi’s; Its one of the only place other than blairgowrie that i regularly see Ringed Pipefish; and is a great spot of for seahorses, stinkfish and at night a dead cert for snake eel. Its one of those spots that you never know what you’ll see…an aspect that i dislike about St leonards which seems to be failry predictable(as predictable as the ocean can be).

On this dive, i found a..”thing” that intrigued me. The patterning on it looks like a fabric print, but it is definently organic…even a fractal generator couldn’t come up with such random dimensions in the patterning of the stars/flowers on the skin. The centre of these stars/flowers was raised(not obvious in the photos) like some type of gland. My best guess is this is a bit of a sponge or ascidian, but i certainly haven’t seen anything like this before. Anyone got any ideas??

Camera Details: Canon 60mm , SS200 Strobe

Photos:

Jan

10

Dive Number: 251 10/01/12 18.19, Portarlington Pier

Wind: ???

Tide: ???

Conditions: Milky

Visibilty: 4m

Water Temp: 21.2c

Bottom Time: 82minutes

Max Depth: 3.4m

Air usage: 170bar/2500psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: As silty as portarlington gets, i always seem to enjoy it. Some old tallship replicas were giving rides from the pier which looked nice from the water towards sunset. A few nudis around as always.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm , SS200 Strobe

Photos:

Oct

12

Dive Number: 194  12/10/11  20.14, Portarlington Pier

Wind:   10knot southerlies

Tide:  High tide at Geelong

Conditions:  ???

Visibilty:   5m

Water Temp: 14c

Bottom Time: 89minutes

Max Depth: 3.1m

Air usage: 70bar/1000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: This turned into a night dive and lots of cool critters came out, including a couple of snake eels, a baby lions mane jellyfish and the real suprise , a ring-backed pipefish…the first time i’ve seen one of these on the Bellarine Peninsula. More Cerberillas around again tonight too, plus a couple of other nudi’s, a goby and a fish i’m yet to ID. Great muck dive…i need to night dive more often.

Camera Details:  Canon   60mm ,  SS400 Strobe

Photos:

Oct

9

Dive Number: 194  09/10/11  18.33, Portarlington Pier

Wind:   10knot southerlies

Tide:  High tide at Geelong

Conditions:  ???

Visibilty:   5m.

Water Temp: 14.0c

Bottom Time: 67minutes

Max Depth: 3.0m

Air usage: 70bar/1000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: I was suprised by the number of nudi’s around under the pier. Good numbers of Cerberilla around and a pygmy squid made a good subject.

Camera Details:  Canon   60mm ,  SS400 Strobe

Photos:

Jan

12

Dive Number: 120 28/12/10 15.11  Portarlington Pier

Wind:   15knot  S ‘s.

Tide: 2hrs before 0.19 low tide at Geelong.

Conditions:   People, people..everywhere…tall ships..jetskis…fishing boats..and mussell boats flooding the water with gunk. A pretty standard muck dive at portarlington.

Visibilty: 3-4m

Water Temp: 20c

Bottom Time: 42 minutes diving…another 60minutes snorkelling

Max Depth: 3.6m

Air usage: 70bar/1000psi ????

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: Not a lot around. A couple of Polycera Hedgepethi’s mating was the most exciting find.  One shot looks like its going to be consumed in the jaws of a ferocious shark.

Camera Details: Canon  100mm , single SS200 strobes

Dive Report:

Dec

16

Dive Number: 113 13/12/10 19.06  Portarlintgton Pier

Wind:  15knot SE’s

Tide:   2.5hours before 0.84 high tide at Geelong

Conditions:  Dirty as usual for port pier. Calm though.

Visibilty: 3m

Water Temp: 20c

Bottom Time: 105 minutes

Max Depth: 3.0m

Air usage: 70bar/1000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details:  I just got Ian Lewis’s shore dives of victoria book and he described Portarlington pier as the best dive on the peninsula. It suprised me since it can be the muckiest dive you’ll ever do, but it always does turn up some interesting critters. On this dive, i stopped to get photograph some blennies, and a Seahorse just casually floated past my head and attached itself to the ascidian that the blennies i was photographying were hiding amongst. Usually seahorses dont behave around me, always hiding in weeds, or in awkward positions or current/surge making photos difficult, but this guy posed brilliantly, even moving slowly in midwater. Typically though, i had the wrong lens on..my 100mm macro, so i could only manage some portraits. There were also a few Polycera Hedgepathi nudi’s around and a newbie for me over this side, Tamja sp.

Camera Details: Tokina 100mm , single SS200 strobes

Dive Report:

Aug

4

Dive Number: 72 29/07/2010 20.50 Portarlington Pier

Wind: 10 knot N.

Tide: 3hr after 1.11 high tide at the Geelong

Conditions: Suprisingly good for onshore winds….protected by the break.

Bottom Type: Muddy bottom with lots of fanworm clusters.

Visibilty: 4-5m

Water Temp: 11c

Bottom Time: 49 minutes

Max Depth: 2.9m

Air usage: 70bar/1000psi

SAC: ???? litres/min

Details: The conditions weren’t perfect for night diving but i thought the winds might move around to westerlies if they picked up. I drove down to St Leonards, but Northerlies came out of nowhere and totally blew out St Leonards. Instead of wasting the drive i thought i’d wander past Portarlington on my way home..i wasn’t expecting it to be diveable there since northerlies are straight onshore, but to my surprise there was only gentle norterlies there, and the break wall at the end of the pier made conditions very nice. Nice enough for seagulls to be just sitting on the surface of the water, so i thought i’d join them.

Camera Details: Sigma 17-70mm , single SS200 strobe

Dive Report: This was actually a much better night dive than it is a day dive. During the day you usually have mussell boat filling the water column with sediment and the muddy bottom has a much greater potential for being stirred up. At night the bottom was stable and the water column clean, and all the fanworms were out in full force. This fanworms ‘stem’ was covered in anenome’s and you can see the tiny plankton that were attracted to my light (and would have glowed if i turned my light off).

A closeup of an anemone:

A fanworm doing its thing without the anemones cramping its style.

A nudibranch on one of the pylons feeding:

A seacumber amongst the fanworms:

A seabiscuit making its way across the mud.

I came across two Snake Eels on this dive. I think they are are blind and ‘feel’ their way around the bottom searching for prey. I had one come straight towards seemingly oblivious of my presence. I think it might of been on its way home though down and heading for its hole in the sand. They are awesome burrowers!

There were lots of Globefish around, but very few other species of fish. I was hoping to see a velvetfish or at least some cobblers and stinkfish, but it was very quiet.

May

4

Dive Number: 33 01/05/2010 9.22 Portarlington Pier

Wind: 15-20 knot north-westerlies

Tide: 2.5hrs before 0.17 low tide at Geelong

Conditions: Shocking..northwesterlies were straight onshore at Portarlington, bringing small waves straight under the pier, and making vis terrible. The break at the end only protected a small area.

Bottom Type: Peir pylons on muddy silty crap.

Visibilty: 0-2m

Water Temp: 17c

Bottom Time: 49 minutes

Max Depth: 2.8m

Air usage: 35bar/500psi

SAC: 7.2 litres/min

Details: I’d missed the tides at queenscliffe, so i decided to head around to St Leonards….the conditions were aweful at St Leonards, so as ridiculous as it seemed i hoped the break wall at the Portarlington pier might at least provide some protection from the NW’s and get me in for a dive. Its a muck dive at the best of times, but this about as horrible as diving gets. Very little fish around and no nudi’s at all…it was exciting from the aspect of a zero vis adventure dive but thats about it.

Camera Details: Canon 100mm , dual SS200 strobe.

Dive Report: Didn’t see a cracker coz i was lucky to see my nose. A few globies and some pufferfish crapping themselves when they saw a large creature coming out of the muck and thats about it. I did test out a new DIY tail wieght positioning which worked a treat though. Its really improved my centre of gravity and trim.

Apr

3

Dive Number: 25 02/04/2010 12.12 Portarlington Pier

Wind: 20 knot Southerlies

Tide: 45min before 0.14 low tide at the Geelong

Conditions: Windy, overcast and a very low tide. Lots of sediment in the water.

Bottom Type: Rock wall breakwater covered in weed on sand base.

Visibilty: 3m

Water Temp: 20c

Bottom Time: 90 minutes

Max Depth: 4.0m

Air usage: 75bar/1000psi

SAC: 7.2 litres/min

Details: I wanted to see if the Boarfish was still hanging around Portarlington Pier, but I didn’t like my chances. I headed straight out the back and along the rockwall break of the peir. Conditions where pretty horrible, and a few boats on the outside of the pier too. Generally a pretty crappy day for diving, with little around of interest.

Camera Details: Canon 17-40mm, single SS200 strobe.

Dive Report: I headed straight for the end of the pier to where I last sighted the Boarfish. On the way I tried a couple of shots of the pylons with the multitude of feral fanworms fanning out off them.

Continuing out the back I didn’t spot the boarfish and continued along the wall. There were plenty of the common fish around, globefish, toadfish, moonlighters and old wives, with a large school of zebrafish darting around in and out of the rocks. There were also big schools of hulafish, so I tried some long exposure shots of the schools, not really getting any satisfying shots using this technique.

Some Weed Whiting nibbled away at a fishermans bait…. gee

people are so nice giving fish a free feed!

On the way back in, i took another shot of the pylons, this one with an 11-armed starfish on it:

Mar

29

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.

Visibilty: 4-5m

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.