Cuttlefish have long held my interest as they are just fascinating creatures – as a child all I knew of them was finding the white chalky bones on the beach to bring home to the cocky. I was blown away as a diver to discover how fascinating they look and behave underwater – changing colour and texture and dancing through the water.
Every year in the waters of Whyalla (South Australia) giant cuttlefish meet in huge numbers to mate – we had intended on visiting to witness this last year but alas it wasn’t to be. Perhaps this year. In the meantime, the sheer number of cuttlefish we saw on our SA trip was fantastic, spotting at least one every dive and often more. This video is from Port Hughes, an impromptu stop after chatting to divers in the carpark of our previous dive. So much to see, and the underwater soft coral and sponge growth reminded me of a winter wonderland.
Another accessible diving location, with plentiful parking and a relatively short walk down the pier to the staircase leading into the water. Simple dive – out and back underneath the pier, with big schools of fish to observe. Toilets closeby the carpark, and next time we’ll make this a late afternoon dive as there is a pub on the other side of the carpark!
Location: Port Hughes, SAWater Temperature: 21°CAverage Depth: 5.1mMaximum Depth: 6.9m
We were told that Rapid Bay Jetty was an epic dive, and it did not disappoint. When we arrived at the jetty, it was blowing a gale and we were hesitant to jump into unknown waters given the wind. A chat with some friendly divers in the carpark quickly changed that and off we went.
The main aim of our dive was to spot a leafy seadragon – cousin to the weedy seadragons we see here in Victoria. Such otherworldly creatures, we were lucky enough to spot one (probably the same one!) on each dive we did here. Of course there were loads of other creatures to see also – octopus, cuttlefish, massive schools of fish and so much more, with different critters greeting us on our night dive. A massive dive site, we did two day dives and a night dive and still didn’t make it to the end!
Rapid Bay Jetty is actually two jetties – an old large dilapidated jetty with sections falling into the water and a newer fishing jetty running parallel about 20m to the east. To access the old jetty (and dive site), walk down the fishing jetty (it’s long, consider a trolley), down the stairs and to the dive platform. Upon entering the water and descending, you’ll see a series of starpickets that lead the way to the old jetty. Head out (watch for fishing line) and then along to the T. Keep an eye on your air as it’s a large dive site, better to return with some air as opposed to a long surface swim!
We were advised to bring spare tanks with us given the long drive back to Adelaide and were grateful to not have to worry about air through the entire trip (public holidays and Sundays are a little different in SA!). On our return for the night dive we did discover that Peter at Second Valley Air Fills was available for air, super handy. Not many facilities in the area, so pack snacks for your surface interval and note that the closest toilets are at the campgrounds. Check the conditions with a local beforehand – our new found friends in the carpark were able to advise on current, recommended turn around points etc, which made for an easier dive.
Location: Rapid Bay, SAWater Temperature: 20°CAverage Depth: 6mMaximum Depth: 9.8m
After last weeks fabulous show of Spider Crabs at Blairgowrie, we decided we would head back over one last time to see the crabs in action. Alas word went around the day before the planned dive that the crabs had moved on and very few remained in the area.
We carried on regardless, and were rewarded with an AMAZING show of cuttlefish, as they danced and showed off for us. Be sure to look out for the one that swam right between us, and the one with impressive folds of skin that makes it look straight out of Pirates of the Carribbean (Davy Jones anyone?!).
Before diving I had only ever associated cuttlefish with the thin white cuttlefish bone that often washes up on the beach, collecting them for treats for our cocky – I had no idea they were such magnificent creatures.
WE SAW A SHARK, WE SAW A SHARK! Despite a Great White being spotted in the area (how awesome would that have been?!), my first Australian shark was a draughtboard/swell shark, at about 1.2m long. It swam directly below me before disappearing into the murkiness that is Flinders. You just never know what you’re going to see under water!
The swell shark is so-called because despite its smallish size, when threatened it can swell up in an attempt to trick predators.
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.