Murion Islands Dive 2

After the first dive, we headed around to the other side of the islands for lunch and a chance to snorkel over the shallow reef.

While swimming around the bombies amongst the spectcular range of fish life, we saw the destructive “Crown of Thorns”.

Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns

Whilst there are quite a few to be found around the Murion Islands, they are part of the ecosystem and not currently considered to be a problem.

This dive site was littered with Nudibranch of a range of colours and feathers.

Nudibranch White Spots
Nudibranch White Spots

We again encountered a sea snake, this time much closer and quite enquisitive!

Inquisitive Sea Snake
Inquisitive Sea Snake

The abundance and variety of soft corals was amazing.

Soft Coral
Soft Coral

To end the dive we had a pair of catfish hiding under a rock ledge.

Cat Fish
Cat Fish

On the way home we were treated to more humpback whales including the mother and calf who cruised along just beside our boat!

Humpback Mother and Calf

Having saved the best until last, tomorrow, we are off to the World Famous Exmouth Navy Pier…

Muiron Islands Dive 1

We were once again collected from Exmouth and headed off to the Bundegi Jetty to get to the dive boat.  We headed north for about an hour stopping intermittantly to take in the delights of breaching humpback whales in our path.

Humpback Whales
Humpback Whales
Humpback Whale Fluke
Humpback Whale Fluke

When we arrived at Murion Islands, our first stop was on the north of the first island.

Murion Islands Map
Murion Islands Map

After descending down the mooring line and heading over to the coral bombies the frist thing we we shown were the most amazing fern corals extending out from the soft coral outcrops.

Fern Corasl
Fern Corasl

The coral bombies were crouded with life including Queen Angelfish…

Queen Angelfish
Queen Angelfish

We explored the range of canyons and coral shelves to get the most of the spectacular scenery.

Canyon
Canyon

This also our first close encounter with a sea snake.  There were a fair few around.   Every few minutes they would head up to the surface for a breath and then dive down to the sandy floor to then head out under the overhangs in search of the next meal.

Sea Snake
Sea Snake

After surfacing, we then headed of around to the other side of then island for the second dive…

Ningaloo Reef Dive 2

We travelled a little further up the coast and moored again at our next site for the day.

Ningaloo Reef Double Dive Map`
Ningaloo Reef Double Dive Map

This site is marked out by a large coral ledge at the centre of the dive area with a multitude of limestone caverns and coral ledges around to explore.

Follwing the mooring line down to the sand shelf at about 10m depth, we encountered what we believe to be a very well camoflagued wobbygong under one of the ledges.  It was about 1m long, but wedged so well under the ledge I wasn’t able to get any good pictures of it.

We moved away from the mooring line and headed over to the large coralledge at the centre of the site.

Cod under ledge
Cod under ledge

Swimming around the left side of the site, we got to see plenty of life.

Divers
Divers
Clam
Clam

This interesting pair never seperated by more than a few centimeters in the whole time I was watching them.

Pair of Yellow Tails
Pair of Yellow Tails

Some of the coral formations were amazing and look so fragile.

Green Tree Coral
Green Tree Coral

My buddy and I were then treated by a fly past from a Manta Ray.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray

It circled around us and then came back again a few minutes later for another look!

Manta Ray Video

This guy looks like he was very comfortable using a coral bowl as a place to rest.

My Couch
My Couch

There was a large turtle that was hanging around on his favourite piece of rock.

Turtle Head
Turtle Head
Turtle
Turtle

While touring the right hand circle, we were followed around by this rather friendly sea snake.

Sea Snake
Sea Snake

At this point, my camera battery died, but I was able to persuade it to try again to get this final shot of an octopus that was hiding under a limestone outcrop.

Octapus
Octapus

Not the best photo in the world!  I will try better next time!

Tomorrow, we are off to the Muiron Islands…

Ningaloo Reef Dive 1

Having been picked up in Exmouth, a short bus ride later and we were at Bundegi Jetty to get the small tender over to our Ningaloo Reef dive boat for the day.  Today’s sites are on the North end of the spit.

Ningaloo Reef Double Dive Map`
Ningaloo Reef Double Dive Map

After a boat trip around the point for about 40 minutes, punctuated by frequent Humpback Whale sightings, we arrived at our first dive site.  Jumping in the water, we then headed to the mooring line to descend.  Following the line down to the bottom at around 12m depth we were treated with the first sight of the day.  A lion fish was sitting quite happily under the concrete block that holds the mooring in place.

Lion Fish
Lion Fish

Once we were all together at the bottom, we headed out along the line of the reef moving against the current.  The life of the reef was amazing.

Cat Fish
Cat Fish
Cod
Cod
Jeuvenile Butterfly Fish
Jeuvenile Butterfly Fish
Jeuvenile Yellow Tail Snapper
Jeuvenile Yellow Tail Snapper
Ningaloo Reef Scene
Ningaloo Reef Scene
Nudibrach Red and Green
Nudibrach Red and Green
Queen Angel Fish
Queen Angel Fish
Spotted Puffer Fish
Spotted Puffer Fish
Yellow Tail Snapper
Yellow Tail Snapper

I am never sure that photographs really to justice to the increadible abundance of activity on the reef so here is a video.  The quality isn’t great, but it shows how the fish collect together and appear to be connected!

Shoal of Fish Video

Next up. Dive 2…

Humpback Whale Swim

While I appreciate that this post is neither about scuba diving, nor is it in Perth, WA, for the next few days I am on a trip to Exmouth to explore the delights of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef.

Today was booked as a Whale Shark swimming experience, but as they haven’t seen Whale Sharks here for over two weeks, the season is now pretty much over.  Two years ago, the Western Australian Government started allowing licensed Whale Shark Swim companies to extend the season by offering the oportunity to swim with the Humpback Whales.  The Humpback Whales start their southerly migration and head for Antartica a month or so later than the Whale Sharks.  The program is experimental at this stage and while the engagement rules are clearly defined by the department, the reality of swimming with them is yet to be perfected (as we learned today).

Having been picked up from Exmouth, we headed over to the Western side of the spit where Ningaloo Reef winds it’s way down to Coral Bay in the South.  In the Jurabi Coastal Park is the Tantabiddi Boat Ramp which is where all the Whale Shark boats go out from into the Ningaloo Reef.

Humpback Whale Swim Map
Humpback Whale Swim Map

First stop was an orientation snorkel, to the North of the boat ramp and on the outer side of the reef.

Yellow Stripey Shoal
Yellow Stripey Shoal
Pink Coral
Pink Coral
Green Coral Ball
Green Coral Ball

Then back on the boat to follow the Humpback Whales that had already been spotted by the spotter planes to the North of our snorkeling site.

It wasn’t long before we saw the distinctive spouts of the Humpbacks and then we kept watch as they headed along in front of our boat, spouting and breaching every few minutes.

Humpback Whale Spout
Humpback Whale Spout
Humpback Whale Breaching
Humpback Whale Breaching

Then we got ready to go in.  The skipper brought the boat around so that we were in their path and we slid into the water off the back of the boat.  With visibility at about 25m and the whales probably 50m away,we couldn’t see anything except for the blue water!  Duck your head under water though and you could hear them as loud as if they were right on top of us.  After swimming for a few minutes, the skipper signalled us backon board as they had dived and gone right past.

We had three more goes with a similar experience and then when we were just about to get back up the steps from the marlin board at the back of the boat, the yell came out that we were going in again for another try.

This time we finned out quickly in the direction we were being pointed in by the guys left on the boat.  We could hear the sound just getting louder and louder and then a low vibration that went straight through you.  There it was! Right in front of us, nose down to the sandy bottom with it’s fluke coming back up to only about 5m below the surface.

Humpback Whale Nose Down
Humpback Whale Nose Down

The Humpback then levelled out at the bottom and swam straight underneath us.

Humpback Whale Below
Humpback Whale Below

It was then our turn to spot on the boat while the others had a go at swimming.  After about five goes without any luck, we started to head back home.  Then just as we had about given up, we saw a pod of four Whales heading across in front of the boat.  Having tired out the other group they called out for two more people to join them so I grabbed the camera and jumped in as well.  I was lucky enough to experience another encouter with these majestic creatures.  This one was quite a bit bigger (and louder) than the one earlier and quite a bit deeper.  As the whale past beneath us, it turned on it’s side as if to see what we were doing, invading it’s world.  Unfortunately, it was all to quick to get any photographic evidence second time around.  I need to get myself that mask mounted Go-Pro that I have been coveting.

To cap it off, after lunch, we took to the water again to do a drift snorkel over a patch of shallow reef.

Mauve Coral
Mauve Coral

Just to complete the experience we saw this turtle as we floated along!

Green Turtle
Green Turtle

Tomorrow I head out onto the Ningaloo Reef to do a double dive with http://diveningaloo.com.au/.  See you then…

BHP Jetty Night Dive

Wednesday 15th July – BHP Jetty Night Dive

It was just the two of us today on the BHP Jetty Night Dive, but what the rest of you missed was probably the best visibility we have had for the past couple of months.  The conditions were pretty close to perfect with a light current running north to south and virtually no swell.

With a maximum depth of around 8.3m we were down for 67 minutes which at 15 deg C did start to get a bit cold, but we were rewarded by some great things to see.  No Great Whites or Manta rays that we had been promised, but the number of Seahorses and colourful Nudibranch were fantastic.

Having experimented with video last week, I took a few more snippets today along with a lot of photos so I will share a few:

Firstly, for those of you who haven’t been on a night dive, this is Aaron ahead of me:

The legs of the Jetty are covered in soft corals, feather anemone and there were a lot of starfish and these Nudibranch crawling around:

Camoflague Starfish - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Camouflage Starfish – BHP Jetty Night Dive
Feather Anemone - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Feather Anemone – BHP Jetty Night Dive
Purple Spotted Orange Nudibranch - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Purple Spotted Orange Nudibranch – BHP Jetty Night Dive

The Seahorses were out in force:

Seahorse Family - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Seahorse Family – BHP Jetty Night Dive
Seahorse Pair - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Seahorse Pair – BHP Jetty Night Dive

Including this beautiful orange seahorse!

Shortly before the turn, Aaron spotted a Cuttlefish hiding under some rocks:

Purple Cuttlefish - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Purple Cuttlefish – BHP Jetty Night Dive
Purple Cuttlefish - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Purple Cuttlefish

And then further on we met another one swimming in the open water:

And then a small Stingray next to a shoal of juvenile Catfish.

Stingray - BHP Jetty Night Dive
Stingray

 

On the way up to the beach, we stayed under and scanned the sand for other interesting life.  As always there where quite a number of Blue Swimmer Crabs and small fish, and then we came across this Sand Eel trying to hide from our lights.

And this which has now been identified as a Horrowed Sole.

Next week, the Perth Scuba Manta Club have pencilled in a dive on the coast North of the river, but that will be weather dependant.  The wind and swell are dropping after the weekend, so fingers crossed…

Ammo Jetty Night Dive

Wednesday 1st July – Ammo Jetty Night Dive

Not letting a little bit of rain put us off, we met in the car park to gear up for a night dive at Ammo Jetty.

Ammo Jetty Map
Ammo Jetty Map

We had a varied crew.  A couple of seasoned locals, two fairly new divers and three recently qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.

Budding Participants
Budding Participants

I haven’t been out on a night dive for a long lime and I soon remembered how much I do love it.  The underwater world comes alive at night and it gives you a completely different perspective on the dive site.  Sandy bottoms that in the day are empty, in the night are peppered with crabs and shrimps.  In your torch, the jellyfish shimmer and cuttlefish swim past your mask at close quarter.

Blue Swimmer Crab
Blue Swimmer Crab
Blue Swimmer Crabs defending their patch
Blue Swimmer Crabs defending their patch
Eyes in the sand
Eyes in the sand

We also saw quite a few other things including quite a large Stingray that had been hooked by one of the fishermen on the jetty overhead.

Stingray hooked up to line
Stingray hooked up to line

My buddy was kind enough to liberate it and it didn’t hang around after that.  The other things we saw were Frog fish, lots of Starfish, a small Port Jackson Shark and a Rock Fish hiding in the soft corals on one of the pylons.

Frog Fish
Frog Fish

 

Starfish
Starfish

 

Port Jackson Shark
Port Jackson Shark

 

Camouflaged Rock Fish
Camouflaged Rock Fish

I can’t wait to go out again next week.  The current plan is to go out from South Mole (Freemantle)…

PADI Instructor Exam (IE) in Perth WA

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June 2015 – Perth PADI Instructor Exam (IE) in Perth WA

Following the past four weeks of study, confined water practice, open water practice and classroom instruction, this weekend the PADI Instructor Exam (IE) is finally upon us.

Saturday was taken up with the written exams, confined water skills, and teaching presentations with Sunday dedicated to the open water.  With the West Australian reporting a warning of big waves over the weekend we were thinking we would be in the river, but with the benefit of the shelter of Garden Island, we were able to go to the Rockingham Wreck trail (a local favourite).

Open Water at the IE
Open Water at the IE

Once we got in, the conditions for the open water section were cool at 17 deg C, but at least we didn’t have the rain and hail of last weekend!  The visibility wasn’t great but none of us let that get in the way of showing off our stuff.  A bit of chop for the rescue exercise just makes it all a bit more realistic!

The IE Candidates
The IE Candidates

Ten candidates, all from the IDC at Perth Scuba on the beach afterwards with our instructor, Brandon and the IE (Steve).

Its all over
Its all over

A fantastic result as we all passed, so soon we will all be taking PADI Open Water Scuba classes.

PADI IDC (Instructor Development Course) at Perth Scuba

Saturday 6th June to Friday 26th June (Part Time) – PADI IDC (Instructor Development Course) at Perth Scuba

I guess it was always going to happen one day, but this week I decided to enrol on the course to upgrade my PADI DiveMaster card to one that would make me an instructor.

Having had a look around, most places only do the PADI IDC in summer, but as luck would have it, Perth Scuba were running a part time PADI IDC starting on the 6th June.

The IDC is broken down into sections much the same as a PADI Open Water course.  Online course materials and assessments from PADI were followed by classroom review and confined water training.

Confined Water Briefing
Confined Water Briefing
Confined Water Skills
Confined Water Skills

After lots of practice, exams and assessments of our ability to do the 24 skills from the PADI Open Water course, we got the chance to try them all out in Open Water on the last weekend down at the Rockingham Wreck trail.  The conditions were poor on the surface with wind, rain and the odd bit of hail, but once we got down the only real problem was that it was a little cold at 15 deg C.  The visibility was actually quite good for this site at about 5m which meant Brandon could see all the things we got wrong!

Tomorrow it is on to the IE…

North Coogee Marina Wall Dive

Sunday 31st May 2015 – North Coogee Marina Wall Dive

Today, it seemed like a good idea to go out on a club dive with Perth Scuba as I have signed up with them to do my PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) with them next month.  Club dives are a great way to get back into diving if you haven’t been for a while or if you just want to keep up your skills and meet new people.  Best of all they are free (apart from air and equipment if you need it).  Being free, however they are always going to be a shore dive and site choice is going to be largely dependent on weather, the group and the lead Dive Master’s personal preference.

The site of choice today was North Coogee Marina Wall.  The conditions were a lot better than the last time I came here with almost flat sea and water at 18 deg C.  The max depth on the dive was 8.4m with a bottom time of 58 minutes.  I used the GPS in my BlackBerry Z10 inside a Cressi Dry Box which from the track I think did remarkably well considering at times there was 8m of water between me and the sky!

North Coogee Wall
North Coogee Marina Wall

At some point I need to correlate the GPS timestamps with the dive profile readings from my computer to work at what depth it does actually loose signal, but given that it shows us quite nicely going around the end of the wall, I think it is probably at around the 8m mark, as most of the dive time was spent below 6m.

In terms of things to see, there are lots of shoals of smaller fish using the rocks for protection.  Lots of Toadfish on the sand and a good variety of different puffers.  If you look into the holes you can often see Octopus eyes peering back at you.

Small Shoal
Small Shoal
Common Toadfish
Common Toadfish
Spotted Puffer
Spotted Puffer
Yellow Spine Puffer
Yellow Spine Puffer
Shoal of Stripey
Shoal of Stripey
Octopus
Octopus