On my second visit to Blairgowrie to observe the Spider Crabs we were rewarded with thousands of the crustaceans gathering in the shallows below the pier to moult. No-one really knows why they come crawling into the waters below Blairgowrie Pier, but it is suspected to be a case of safety in numbers, as there are many predators that take advantage of the crabs when they’re in the process of growing a new shell. On our visit we only saw one large ray cruising, but there were plenty of reports of many more in the area, as well as small sharks and other predators.
To celebrate the first day of winter Yu, Alan, Marky and I struggled out of our warm beds predawn for a 6am dive at Black Rock.
Black Rock has a small pier, but the main attraction is the wreck of HMAS Cerebus, a Navy breastwork monitor ship that was scuttled as a breakwater off Half Moon Bay in 1924. Whilst it used to be a popular site for divers and picnickers (sections exposed above water), in 1993 there was significant structural collapse and the site now has a large exclusion zone around it, so alas there is not a lot to see.
A chilly morning (it was 3°C ❄️outside when we jumped into the 13°C waters!), but a quiet and peaceful way to start the winter months. Shallow site, great for playing with my new gear. Saw a tonne of flatworms in the water, as well as a fiddler ray straight up (camera wasn’t rolling!) and a few other critters came out to say hi. The best bit of a winter predawn dive has to be ascending to the crisp and clear sunrise 🌅
On the final weekend in May we also went to Flinders Pier, home of the otherworldly Weedy Seadragon. As well as these magnificent creatures, we were also treated to a massive school of trevally, an inquisitive giant cuttle, colourful cowfish and more. The challenge of Flinders is seeing beyond the weeds and spotting the marine life hiding in plain sight… The extra challenge is holding your camera still while the surge tries to push you all over the place!
On ANZAC day, we had plans to dive the HMAS Goorangai, a minesweeper that was used in conjunction with two others to sweep the shipping lanes approaching Port Phillip in 1940. The three vessels successfully located and destroyed forty mines over a fortnight period. Unfortunately HMAS Goorangai sank whilst doing a crossing, and lost all hands on board – the Goorangai is now a designated war grave. As the wreck is located in the shipping channel, it is only able to be dived when shipping has been halted – something that we had hoped for on ANZAC day, but alas it wasn’t to be.
Instead, we dived Boarfish Reef, a fantastic site amongst the Sponge Gardens, about halfway between Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. On the day that we dived, it was almost an aquarium, with fab viz and curious fish almost sideswiping us as they swam around. Highlight for me was the blue devil showing off – first up in the video. And for those of my friends terrified of spiders, be sure to watch the last clip – not a great example of videography, but SPIDER! SEA SPIDER! SPIDERS exist underwater! 😱🕷😱
The other take-home from this dive for me? It is the second time I’ve dived Boarfish Reef – the first was on my Dive #4, as part of my Open Water course. My log entries for that day back in December versus the ANZAC day dive (#46!) are considerably different!
Rye Pier holds a special place in my heart – it’s where I took my first breath underwater in the ocean as part of my Open Water course, it’s where I returned to do part of my Advanced Open Water, and it’s been the host to many other magical dives.
This is the first time I’ve dived it in the daylight with my camera though, so welcome to Rye Pier! Highlight for sure was the rather large stingray – at the end it sweeps along directly underneath me. Slightly amusing because overseas we were chasing Mantas, attempting to catch even a glimpse, and here at Rye and the other piers, we’re often visited by these underwater giants!