First dive for over two weeks because of flooding and brown water coming out of all the bays and rivers. First dive with my boat since 27 Feb because of bad weather too. Flat seas and little wind. Water a bit green on top but below 18 m it went cleaner, about 10 m but a cold 16C. Very dark though as sunrise only 0709 and dirty water. Anchored on NE corner, went W first then back and then S to SE corner. Huge amount of yellowtail, most I have ever seen anywhere I reckon. A few seapike mixed in with them. One donut nembrotha and a siny gurnard. Really enjoyable dive, far better than I expected it to be. Saw a seal a few times when back on the boat. Visibility fair.
3 April 2021 - M & K Reef
Similar conditions to yesterday above water, slight current from N which increased while we were down. Anchored off cave, dragged anchor to rock. Viz was between 10 and 15 m, could see surface from 22 m, a bit of surge at times. Then N and to back of the reef. Saw two blue devilfish, two wobbegong sharks, five pygmy pipefish, one yellow boxfish, four enormous cuttlefish, lots of seapike, yellowtail, silver sweep and more. A really nice dive. Visibility good.
4 April 2021 - M & K Reef
Club boat dive, only my boat. All female crew! Similar conditions to yesterday above water but no current at all. Anchored off cave. Viz was between less than 10 m and much colder at 18C No surge at times. Then N and to back of the reef and a bit further N and then E over second wall. Saw one blue devilfish, the same two wobbegong sharks, one pygmy pipefish, only two enormous cuttlefish, lots of yellowtail and some silver sweep. Not as good as yesterday, but still a nice dive. Visibility fair.
5 April 2021 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Stronger S wind today meant no boat diving. Water much cleaner on top now, not even brown at low tide. Went thru Pool, then via Short Cut to sand, then to 15 Metre Reef and back normal way. Water a cooler 19C at depth of 15 m, also much cleaner here. Got a bit dirtier on way back but then again clean less than 6 m. Lots of red-lined flabellinas, three upsidedown pipefish, five tiger pipefish (2 of each near SHC), one RIF, octopus guarding eggs and many other nudibranchs. Also one pinkish yellow boxfish. I rescued a small moray eel with a hook in its side, used knife to pull the hook out. Was damaged a bit here and elsewhere, but seemed in good health. Only one sea horse near Sea Tulip Rocks. A very good dive. Visibility fair to good.
6 April 2021 - Bare Island Right
Bigger seas today so had to go in near Carol's Plaque. Water much dirtier on top than yesterday. Went via Short Cut to sand, then along 7 m level to near SHC. Water warmer than yesterday, mostly 21C. Clean water in some spots, dirty elsewhere and reasonable other places, weird. Again lots of red-lined flabellinas, three upsidedown pipefish, four tiger pipefish (2 of each near SHC), saw the octopus guarding eggs better today. Many other nudibranchs. No sea horses near Sea Tulip Rocks. Another very good dive. Visibility poor to fair.
8 April 2021 - Middle Ground
Tried to do Tuggerah but no go. There was a very strong current, at least 2.5 kts. This also made it rough out there with wind against current and a lightning storm. Came back here and calm but later rained. Anchor was off reef and we had to drag it about 10 m against a slight current from N. Was on SE corner so went to NE corner and around a little and then back. Huge numbers of yellowtail over NE corner and W and S of there. Some medium sized kingfish too. Two donut nembrothas. Back to anchor and then over to the rocks off there for a bit. Had to move anchor as it was now hanging to E and under a rock. Dirty on top and boat hanging very strangely, point N but wind from S and current not really that strong. Visibility very good.
9 April 2021 - Inscription Point
Went in a few hours after high tide. Water fairly clean (7 m) till 42 mins when it got dirtier (4 m). A bit of ENE swell every few minutes so had to time entry and exit. Saw one sea dragon, four big belly sea horses, four PPH, two yellow boxfish, one black painted anglerfish. Some yellowtail, a few black reef leatherjackets. A nice dive. Visibility fair then poor.
10 April 2021 - The Monuments
Huge seas from S, Bare Island Bommie was raging. Even here a bit of wave action at entry/exit, so decided part way thru dive to go all the way into the outgoing tide and exit on beach. Not too hard. Visibility 2 or 3 m at most, far worse than yesterday. Also surgy. No sea dragons seen, two big belly sea horses and a few different nudbranchs. One small moray eel, some small mirror leatherjackets and that is about all. No a great dive, but at least it was a warm 21/22C. Visibility very poor.
15 April 2021 - Bare Island Deep Wall
Flat seas although a few small waves coming over the platform due to high tide. Went in from W point and out to Deep Wall. Very dirty on top but a little better below 4 m. Then around rocks and back normal way. No sea horses out here or at Sea Tulip Rocks. No RIF, only one PPH. Three tiger pipefish, one with eggs. One upsidedown pipefish. A few nudibranchs, including some opera house. Lots of red-lined flabellina. Some yellowtail schools. An average dive. Visibility very poor.
17 April 2021 - Henry Head
Club dive day, four boats, two runs each. About 38 attending all up. I dived second run. Sloppy swell from S and long 12 second period. Dirty on top and bottom, only 2-3 m viz at best. Pretty terrible dive. Went NW from anchor then S and then back to anchor and NW and N again. One PPH, bright red, one sea spider, some black reef leatherjackets. Not much else seen due to conditions. Visibility very poor.
22 April 2021 - The Split
Club boat dive. Wind well over the 10kts W forecast and from SW and swell much bigger than the 1.2 m. Anchored just E of S end of The Split. Viz very good, 15 m in spots, 12 m mostly. Warm 20C. Went N up Split to end, here I had ear problems and could not go to sand. Tried to clear by going up five times, cleared eventually after four minutes. Swam along the reef top rather than sand, found one donut nembrotha on reef, never seen one here. Then to N end of the Barrens gutter, no bastard trumpeters, but lots of red morwong. Back to anchor and up. Large school of yellowtail came around me on safety stop. Would have been a very good dive except for the ear problem. Visibility good.
24 April 2021 - The Leap Deep
Club boat dive, two boats. Was supposed to be Whale Watching Platform but large swell with long period. Protected here. Anchored in 16 m, at least 10 m viz here. Went E to just past Phil's boat with slight current following. Shear wall for most of this with excellent sponge life. Then back to anchor and W for five minutes. This is the normal Leap start section. Then back to anchor. Some very active bream, a few yellowtail, four large porcupinefish. Other saw some PPH and an upsidedown pipefish. My mask was foggy for some reason, so could not see little stuff. Viz dropped off last 10 mins. A nice dive. Visibility good.
28 April 2021 - Barrens Hut/The Split
Club boat dive. Calm seas but a bit sloppy. No wind or current on top, but slight current from N on bottom, a little surge at times. Visibility at least 15 metres. Anchored normal spot. Went N along Split and then to Donut Heaven. Saw 9 donut nembrothas here. John said he saw a dozen under boat as he dropped to sand. Back S to anchor. Lots of bastard trumpeters and red morwong in normal spot and also in Cave. Back towards anchor and up. Could see boat from 22 m. Great dive. Visibility very good.
29 April 2021 - Marley Point
Another club boat dive for weekdays. Much calmer than yesterday, full speed to Marley Point. Anchored in normal spot. Visibility 20 m, could see the boat from 22 m from anchor. A seal on surface and when I jumped in it came close, got some video. Had to move anchor as it and all chain went into a hole. Went NE for 15 mins, thru the large cave, not much fishlife here. Then back shallower at 10 to 15 m. Then past anchor and back to sand line. Lots more fish shallower, yellowtail and ladder-finned pomfrets, but not as many as normal. Back to anchor and near there and then up. Nice dive. Visibility very good.
Next three dives at Port Stephens
30 April 2021 - The Pipeline
Weekend away for a few birthdays. Track allegedly closed because of landslide next to cafe. Went around fence. Pretty clean, perhaps 7 m. Could not find sea horse hotels, probably did not go far enough. The area shallower than 7 m is missing all vegetation caused by flood. Saw two sea horses, three pipefish (girdle 2, tiger 1), one platypus spindle cowrie, dozens pygmy leatherjackets, a large school of large drummer, one blue-lined octopus. A few moray eels, John found the robust ghost pipefish we saw in March at 9.1 m. Back to exit. Really nice dive. Visibililty fair.
1 May 2021 - Fly Point
Went in right on high, drifted in as normal, turned at 32 mins. Viz from 10 to 15 m, varied a bit. Lots of red-lined flabellina, a few orange-tipped ones, one opera house, a few others. Hundreds of bream, thousands of yellowtail, three large kingfish, plenty of ladder-finned pomfret, some sea pike. Three pineapplefish, a dozen large crayfish, five pipefish in the one hole, lots of small wobbegong sharks and blind sharks. A really good dive. Visibility good.
2 May 2021 - Little Beach
Really dirty on top near beach, leftover water from flood. Much better out past wharf. Went at 8-10 m to barge. One sea horse on the way, two spindle cowries, one flatworm, lots of opera house nudibranchs, a few small wobbegongs and a large one, some small moray eels, some small cuttlefish. Back under the wharf huge amount of yellowtail, seapike, ladder-finned pomfret and more. The biggest flathead I have ever seen too! Amazing. Nice dive. Visibility fair.
4 May 2021 - Bare Island 15 Metre Reef
Eight members. Went in from Carol's plaque, via Shortcut to sand. Then across from reef edge to 15 Metre. Back normal way. Rain and heavy cloud so dark. Hundreds of red-lined flabellina, a few other interesting ones. Two or three upsidedown pipefish near SHC, also two pipefish. Another upsidedown and two pipefish on 15MR. A large wobbegong shark, some small cuttlefish and more. Torch died after 45 mins, so did not see much last bit of dive. Very good dive. Visibility fair.
13 May 2021 - Middle Ground
First dive for over week due to rotten weather. Club boat dive. Large swell with longer period than forecast, surgy on bottom. Very dirty on the way down but perhaps 5 m viz on bottom. However, very dark, like a night dive. Anchored on N side near donuts, saw two. Went clockwise to S side and then backtracked. Two large wobbegong sharks. Huge numbers of yellowtail, especially on N and NE sides. One nice six-spined leatherjackets. Not the best dive but not too bad. Visbility poor.
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