3 April 2020 - Clifton Gardens
First dive after returning early from Philippines due to COVID-19 and 14 day quarantine. Good to get outside. Due to new isolation rules, only two people are allowed to be together and only for limited reasons. Diving qualitifes under exercise exemption. Went in from W end of beach to net, then along till huge hole and then crossed to the outside. Many huge holes in the net! Saw Whites sea horses right from start, over a dozen and I was not even looking for them. Some nudibranchs, a few butterflyfish, some moray eels, two mating octopus, another large one and two blue-ringed otopus. All the usual fan-bellied and pygmy leatherjackets, lots of bream and other leatherjackets. Went to end of the whark, lingered a long time here. A pineapplefish there too. At the end came back into pool via another huge hole, saw a seamoth, tiny. Very nice dive. Visibility poor.
5 April 2020 - Inscription Point
NW winds, millpond sea. Outgoing tide but not too strong. Went very slowly, so got cold despite it being 18.1°C. A Bare Island anglerfish, a black anglerfish, two sea dragons, a few nudibranchs and some deformed firebrick starfish. Lots of smoothered reef due to the weed, but most appears to have died off. Saw Rox and Jason underwater. Nice relaxing dive. Visibility fair.
7 April 2020 - Inscription Point
Again dived here due to limited places we can dive. Went a bit fast at the start and a bit further. Found both the Bare Island and black anglerfish again. No sea dragons though. Plenty of nudibranchs, including lots of pink okenia and a species that I am not sure I have seen before. Back slowly into the current which was a bit stronger than Sunday. Swell a bit more but okay. Nice dive again. Visibility fair.
9 April 2020 - Shiprock
Ended up 7 SGSC members diving here all separately. Quite a high tide so strongish current. Very clean, at least 10 metres I reckon. Quite wamr at over 20C. Went left at start to deeper section and stayed there for quite a while. Found some small starfish living on bottom of a bigger starfish, never seen this before. Back to bommies, a larger boxfish then a small yellow one. Both very cute. Moray eel on top of last bommie, over to plaque and then back along wall. Others saw five pineapplefish but we did not go that far to see. Also saw a frogfish at start, lots of pygmy and fan-bellied leatherjackets, a huge school of striped catfish, biggest I have seen. Only one nudibranch on whole dive! Convict gobies in normal spot. Nice dive, although more life would have been great. All beaches in Shire closed over Easter, so this may be closed too from tonight. Visibility good.
15 April 2020 - Inscription Point
Bid swells last few days and over Easter most places, including here, closed due to COVID-19. Conditions better than expected, viz at least five metres. Just after low tide, so viz got better. Found two Bare Island anglerfish and the black anglerfish. No sea dragons, quite a few different species of nudibranchs. Nice, easy dive. VIisbility poor to fair.
17 April 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
A bit of SE swell and also very strong SW wind. Just before low tide, no current at all. Went in just past Carol's plaque. Went up gully and then over reef top. Went to sand and eventually 15 Metre Reef. Jason found a thorny sea horse off SE end of reef. A rare to Sydney tropical species. Back normal way. Saw plenty of octopus, three pipefish, one pygmy pipehorse (PPH), two red Indianfish (RIF), plenty of nudibranchs, including pink okenia and one-red-lined flabellina. A very nice, long (83 mins) dive. Visibility poor. (recreated notes after an error, may be not be exactly correct)
18 April 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
A bit of SE swell and also very strong SW wind. Just before low tide, no current at all. Went in just past Carol's plaque. Went up gully and then over reef top, lost Ron, Donna and Jason here. Found them again at 45 mins at Sea Horse Corner! Went to sand and then 15 Metre Reef. Back normal way. Saw plenty of octopus, four pipefish, one pygmy pipehorse (PPH), two red Indianfish (RIF), a small wobbegong shark, some squid, plenty of nudibranchs, including pink okenia and one-red-lined flabellina. A very nice, long (83 mins) dive. Visibility poor.
20 April 2020 - Bare Island Isolated Reefs
Went in from plaque again. Seas down a bit but still a little too much for W point. Three hours after high tide but far worse visibility than last dives here. Only 3-4 m at most. Went down and found the tony yellow painted anglerfish that Jason found on Saturday. Kim reckons it is not the same one she has been seeing about 40 m away. Lost Ron and Donna near cave. Went around both reefs, zig-zagging on N side. Very dark and gloomy here. Saw some nice nudis, including a white/yellow/black one. A tiny yellow boxfish as well. On main reef and at end of IR2 lots of small yellowtail. On S side not much tidal current. I lost Kim and Jason near main reef, waited a bit but did not see them (they went further along to Sea Horse Corner). I had to hightail it back to shore as ended dive with very little air. Visibility very poor.
22 April 2020 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Eight in total diving from club, but in pairs. Went in from W point and to Deep Wall. Then around rocks and back normal way. Better viz than Monday, a very slight outward current as just after high. Some nice nudibranchs, a few octopus, a RIF on RIF Reef. A rarer nudi right near it. Some red-lined flabellina, a pipefish and apparently some PPH on 15 Metre Reef. At Sea Horse Corner, Paul only had 50 bar left so we had to high-tail it back to shore. Stopped for a minute to show him the tiny yellow painted anglerfish which had only moved a few cm. Very good dive, but would have been better without rushing back. Visibility poor.
24 April 2020 - The Monuments
Another brilliant day, just after high tide as we entered water. New whale sculpture near entrance! Went E for a bit and then W and then back to starting point. What a dive! Possibly the best I have had here. Viz was 15 m at least and warm, almost 20C. So many species of nudibranch and flatworm. Blue-ringed octopus, three wobbegong sharks, heaps of pygmy leatherjackets, some saw PPH but not me, a very ugly Bare Island anglerfish (another one I did not see), a sea dragon, a large cowrie, orange mantle, many bubble shells and much, much more. Brilliant! Visibility very good.
25 April 2020 - The Monuments
Eight divers. Incoming tide, blue water but got dirtier as we turned at W end of dive. Entered water about 75 metres E of normal spot. Then NE to sand and back W. At least 15 m viz and 20C water. So many species of nudibranch and flatworm. Plenty of pink okenias and all the normal species. A fine-lined nembrotha eating an ascidian and another one nearby. One PPH, three anglerfish, a tiny pink one that Kim found at W end on rock near sand. Also a black painted angler and one Bare Island anglerfish. Four sea dragons. Some saw a eagle ray. Lots more. Brilliant! Visibility very good.
26 April 2020 - The Monuments
Nine divers. Incoming tide, blue water and lots of yellowtail. Entered water about 75 metres E of normal spot. Then NE to sand and back W. At least 15 m viz and 20C water. Again so many species of nudibranch and flatworm. Plenty of pink okenias and all the normal species. A fine-lined nembrotha eating an ascidian like yesterday. Two PPH, one a tiny red one near the wall where we turned around. The large cowrie, orange mantle, was still there too. Four anglerfish, the tiny pink one from yesterday as well as an orange/yellow small one and two Bare Island anglerfish. A Port Jackson shark, a yellow boxfish, a clingfish with eggs, two sea dragons and lots more. Brilliant! Visibility very good.
27 April 2020 - The Leap
Decided to dive here as viz so good past few days, but not as good. Still okay. A bit of swell with S change, but okay. Very warm on top (22C) but only 20.1C on bottom. Not a big tide, 1.3m, so very little current. Lots of yellowtail all through the dive. Saw one sea dragon, one PPH, one black painted anglerfish, a yellow boxfish, quite a lot of nudibranchs, including dozens of pink okenia and one orange flabellina type species. Still a nice dive. Visibility good.
28 April 2020 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Did not dive yesterday to have a day off. Millpond seas so went off W point and SW to wall. No current at all. Lots of yellowtail down on wall and also shallow, with ladder-finned pomfrets shallow too. RIF on RIF Reef like last Wednesday. A few firefish, an ornate ghost pipefish SW of 15 Metre Reef, juvenile. Plenty of red-lined flabellina, especially on this reef. Also pink okenia everywhere and a few other rarer species. No PPH but others saw some before 15 MR when I was deeper. Two pipefish at NW end of the reef. Took 60 mins to get to Sea Horse Corner, a record slow trip, got down to NDL of 8 mins. The tiny yellow anglerfish was not where it was last week. An excellent dive. Visibility fair.
1 May 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Wall
Too strong W wind to go off W point, so went past Carol's Plaque (her birthday today). Then cut up gully and around back of main reef to sand near 15 Metre Reef. Not as clean as yesterday and also over one degree colder. Looked for the ornate ghost pipefish we saw Wednesday. Found it, still on same sponge. Jason also found a small yellow White's sea horse, all spiky. Kim found a clingfish with eggs on a blue throated ascidian. Back normal way, three RIF, a white PPH, lots of nudibranchs including pink okenias, red-lined flabellinas and more. Could not find the tiny yellow anglerfish nor the one Lynne and Tordis found yesterday. Despite the cold air after, it was a great dive. Visibility fair.
5 May 2020 - The Monuments
Very strong winds last few days and big swell since Saturday. Went in at normal spot and into outgoing tide and exited at W end. Surgy even at 13 m, but not too bad. Viz only 3-5 m. No anglerfish but lots of nudibranchs, especially purple dragons and pink okenias. One purple nembrotha. Also a large green turtle next to the first shear wall. Three sea dragons, a nice gobie in a hole. Not a bad dive considering. Visibility poor.
8 May 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Went in off W point just after high tide. Headed down to 15 Metre Reef, viz about 7 m. Water still a warm 19.3C. Looked for thorny sea horse and orante ghost pipefish but could not find them despite looking in the right spot. Went to reef then back normal way. Four lined pipefish, three PPH, another fatter pipefish. Lots of red-lined flabellinas. On way back, three more PPH, lots of nudibranchs, a larger spotted yellow boxfish, silver sweep and yellowtail. A huge flathead near exit. Really good dive. Visibility fair.
9 May 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Went in off W point, just before high tide. Went W again. Viz still about 7 metres. Donna found a tiny orange painted anlgerfish in the fork of an orange sponge. A nice yellow spotted boxfish, six PPH, could not find the sea horse or ornate ghost pipefish or the pipefish from yesterday. Three RIF down near RIF Reef, a huge wobbegong shark near SH Corner, a few octopus, lots of red-lined flabellinas and a few other rarer species which I do not know names of. A really good dive again. Visibility fair.
12 May 2020 - SS Tuggerah
First time out on boat for about 10 weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. Two on boat and Phil took his too. Anchored at bow, no current and W wind dropped from 12 knots to about 7 while we were in the water. More than a hundred kingfish as I hit bottom. Went to stern, two large wobbegong sharks in front of boiler. Fixed Phil's anchor as I went past. Around prop and back. Some moray eels, lots of yellowtail, seapike, ladder-finned pomfrets and nannygais. Really good dive. Visibility good.
13 May 2020 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Went in off W point, just after low tide. Headed W and then back via RIF Reef and 15 Metre Reef. Did not find the tiny anglerfish from last week but did find the thorny sea horse. It has moved about 20 metres to S. It is S from the small concrete block about 30 seconds swim. In an orange flatish sponge. Two RIF near large concrete block, a tiny sea moth and a spiny gurnard too. Back to 15 M Reef, some small pipefish and the larger brown one from last week. Also three PPH. Then to SH Corner and back. Another RIF, and near the PPH from Saturday we could not find the tiny yellow anglerfish that Ron found yesterday. Back normal way. Very good dive again. Visibility good at first but then only fair.
15 May 2020 - The Monuments
A bit too much wave action and low tide to get in at normal spot so started to E but still had a hard swim out to deeper water. Incoming tide. Surgy for first 40 mins, viz about 10 m till 26 mins then 5-7 m. No anglers seen at all, spent a good deal of time looking for pinky. Two sea dragons, a huge cuttlefish, one frogfish, one yellow spotted boxfish, lots of pink okenias and two opera house nudis. Came all the way back in. A nice easy 72 min dive. Visibility fair.
17 May 2020 - Pizza Reef
First boat reef dive in over 10 weeks! A bit bumpier than expected considering no wind yesterday or last night. However, was still okay. Les's first dive in that time so went to Pizza as so easy. Blue warm water, could clearly see MakCat from anchor at 26 metres. Anchored on W side S of cave. Went S and then up the gully to N and back past cave. About 10 smaller kingfish at S end, but at the N end, wow! A school of 20 good sized bream, thousands of smal seapike, a few dozen bastard trumpeters, yellowtail, silver sweep and near cave, old wives. One donut nembrotha out from cave. Ron and Donna saw a blue devilfish at the N end of gully. A brilliant dive. Visibility excellent.
19 May 2020 - SS Tuggerah
No wind and very flat seas meant quick run down to the wreck. Very little current from N, anchored on W side towards bow. Phil and his crew dived first, then we did. Bluish water but a bit milky. Could see boat from over 20 m. Lots of nannygai and big-eyes, a few large wobbegongs. Went to prop and then back to bow. Did 21 mins on bottom, the last couple dragging the anchor to the prop area so that it could drift down current. Used a bit of air doing that. Another great dive. Visibility good.
20 May 2020 - The Split
Club boat dive. Not as good seas as yesterday, a bit of a sea from NE. Wind dropped off from NW and water conditions were similar to yesterday, milky blue, could see boat from about 20 m. Anchored S end of Split on reef and had to move anchor as it was just laying there. Then went N up Split. There was a medium cuttlefish there that was very friendly, both Les and I went right up to it. Then a Moorish idol and probably another one outside reef (May have been same one). To end and then back on sand. Lots of mado all over the place. No donuts at all. Plenty of combfish and bastard trumpeters near anchor. A really good dive. Visibility good.
23 May 2020 - Shiprock
Huge seas since Thursday night, a lot of rain too. Viz only 2 metres at the most. First dive with my new Seaskin drysuit. Same weight as old drysuit, went well, no water at all thru neck or wrist seals. Valve worked good too. Went to N first and then S. Followed wall as too hard to navigate to bommies. Saw five pineapplefish, one small one bny itself near pyramid rock, the others in normal spot. Lots of bream and small yellowtail. A terrible dive. Visibility very poor.
29 May 2020 - The Monuments
Raining, very heavy at times. Went in from E of normal spot and drifted all the way in. Viz 10 m at first but then 5-7 m. Drysuit again went okay, but a little light in shallows at end. Saw a sea dragon, one small orange painted anglerfish, but some saw another one and a Bare Island anglerfish. Lots of nudibranchs, including some sulphur noumea. Group after us saw a small turtle. Nice relaxing 90 min dive. Visibility fair.
31 May 2020 - M & K Reef
A bit sloppier outside than I expected, NE wind must have blown last night. No current at all. Water a blue milky 7 m viz, great considering last weekend's seas and visibility. Anchored just off wall. Went N, Kelly found a PPH and on way back I found its partner. She later found a tiny one. Lots of yellowtail, seapike and one-spot pullers. Not so many nudibranchs. Need a bit more weight for boat dive to stay at 5 m for safety stop. Nice dive. Visibility fair.
1 June 2020 - Barrens Hut
Much better seas today than yesterday when we went out, but while under the wind came up and it got much rougher. Anchored in normal spot, water same milky blue as yesterday. Les's weight belt came off as he descended and he carried it to the bottom. Paul and I put it back on him, hard as not much space under BCD. Went to Tunnel and thru and then past Cave to small crack where lots of bastard trumpeters, one-spot pullers and some red morwong. Also saw a blue morwong in cave. Back to anchor and up. After dive saw lots of whales, two came past pretty close and one was doing spiral jumps. Fantastic site. Nice dive. Visibility fair.
Next five dives at Port Stephens.
5 June 2020 - Fly Point
Went in a little late, very little current. Drifted for 50 mins and then turned around. Viz hit 20 m before tide changed, then the average 10 m. Huge number of yellowtail at start, then on small wall bream, ladder-finned pomfret and other species. Saw a few interesting nudibranchs, one I had never seen before. A few flathead, some porqupinefish, pufferfish, a dozen Gunthers butterflyfish in one spot and more elsewhere. Really good dive. Visibility good.
6 June 2020 - Fly Point
Tried to dive The Pipeline but no parking spots at all. Came back here, lots of divers. Very little current and viz averaged 10 m, warmer than yesterday though. Huge numbers on small wall bream of ladder-finned pomfret, bream and other species. Some luderick, a small wobbegong. Again saw a few interesting nudibranchs, the same one I saw yesterday that I had never seen before.Some porqupinefish, pufferfish, a tiny pygmy leatherjacket but only two Gunthers butterflyfish. Really good dive. Visibility good.
7 June 2020 - The Pipeline
Got to site early today and plenty of parking spots, even though later than yesterday and more divers here. Drysuit leaked through neck as I disrupted seal when I put my hood on, went to undies! Virtually no current, viz fair for first five minutes then good. Went N from entry point and then followed 8 m to 9 m level to NE. Went to the new sea horse houses. Only one on them but another nearby. Also a tiger pipefish and another later. Saw at least seven sea horses, a dozen spindle cowries, dozens of small cuttlefish and pygmy leatherjackets. A few nudibranchs, two tiger egg cowries on a gorgonia (with spindles too). Really good dive. Visibility good.
8 June 2020 - The Pipeline
Got to site early today and not too hard to get a spot. Virtually no current again, viz fair for first five minutes then good. Had a problem with air in boots, used a lot of air because of this. Went N from entry point and then followed 8 m to 9 m level to NE. Went to the new sea horse houses. Only one on them but some before and after. Saw three tiger pipefish and at least seven sea horses, not as many spindle cowries, dozens of small cuttlefish and pygmy leatherjackets. A few nudibranchs, the two tiger egg cowries on a gorgonia, a platypus egg cowrie, a horned shark and lots more. Another really good dive. Visibility good.
9 June 2020 - The Pipeline
A bit harder to get a spot today, lots of divers too. Did same dive as previous two for most part, but went along pipeline for a long way at end. Virtually no current, viz fair for first ten minutes then good. Went N from entry point and then followed 8 m to 9 m level to NE. Went to the new sea horse houses as before. Only one on them but another two nearby. Saw a few tiger pipefish and as well as at least three girdled pipefish. Again saw least seven sea horses, plenty of spindle cowries, dozens of small cuttlefish and pygmy leatherjackets. A few nudibranchs, one tiger egg cowrie and a few flat worms. A very friendly octopus that kept grabbing at my hand. Yet another really good dive. Visibility good.
12 June 2020 - Bare Island RIF Reef
Went in past Carol's plaque as swell on both sides of island. Went via gully to sand to SE of Sea Horse Cave. Then across sand looking for the thorny sea horse but no luck. A RIF on sand here. Then to RIF Reef, then back via 15 Metre Reef. Two pipefish here but not many nudibranchs. Then back normal way. Saw a long-snouted boarfish near Cave and another E of the other Cave. Two PPH near here in normal spot. ALso, Leo, the tiny 10 mm long yellow painted anglerfish. Another one past Sea Horse Rock, a bit bigger. A few nudibranchs along here, but still not many. An excellent dive. Visibility good, almost very good.
13 June 2020 - M & K Reef
Club boat dive, was supposed to be to Wedding Cake Island but a bit of swell meant it would have been surgy as it is a shallow dive. Too rough at Yellow Rock, so back to M & K. Very foggy on way out. Anchored off N end of wall, Les had to go back up soon after we got to wall as his computer died so no reading of air pressure. Went N. Not as many fish around as two weeks ago. Kelly found a PPH, some nudibranchs around. Back at the S cave, a small blue devilfish. Then as we headed back to anchor, she found a small yellow anglerfish. Good dive. Visibility very good.
20 June 2020 - Barrens Hut/The Split
Flat seas and little W wind. A slight current from the north. Anchored near bastard trumpeters. Went N along Split to end. Then back along sand edge, sand has been removed by seas, at least a metre. A few very large squid here. Two donut nembrothas on first rock south and then two more on the small rock past very large rock. Dozens of spindle cowries on some seawhips. After Les went up we went to near Cave and then up. A great dive. Visibility very good.
21 June 2020 - North Head Boulders
Club boat dive, two boats and seven divers. Rained from 0415 and very dark, only stopped as we left dive site. Anchored in middle of North Head off shear wall. Lots of large boulders deeper than 13 m. Went to sand edge and then W. Some small reef bits off here. As usual, excellent sponge life. No sea dragons. Not a huge amount of fishlife, few nudibranchs. Saw a large wobbegong shark, others saw a few small cuttlefish. Visibility very good, but less than yesterday.
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