Nov 252014

Blenny in a hole

About the site

Mornington Pier is currently under reconstruction. In the last 12 months they’ve removed and replaced almost all of the pylons, changing from the old wooden pillars to new steel and plastic contraptions. All of this work hasn’t done much for the underwater scenery with many of the critters that could manage it moving on. The bottom has been scoured down in places and until the greenery grows back there won’t be very many places to hide. On the other hand the local fishing community hasn’t had easy access to the end of the pier either. I spent the dive surrounded by schooling old wives, juvenile sweep and yellow tailed silver thingies. Being on the rEvo made me bubble free. The drawback was fish sneaking over my shoulder and scaring the crap out of me while I was focussed on the camera.

Blenny on a perch

About the dive

After dipping a hand in the water to determine temperature (warmer than Mt Gambier!) I jumped in with macro lens fitted. The adventures of the last few months mean I haven’t been diving in the ocean in Melbourne since July. It was good to be back in home waters. I also haven’t had my macro lens on the camera since my trip on the Arenui. I pootled gently along the side of the new pylons, keeping an eye out for small critters. The obvious ones were the blennies, who were everywhere. I also encountered a few very relaxed rays and I’m sure I swam right past a seahorse or two.

About the photos

I love these little guys for their expressive faces. The construction of the new pier means the old pylons have been cut down to about a metre off the bottom. The flat tops have little holes in them, and the edges have deep cracks – perfect for curious fish. For the top photo I used just one strobe. By moving it down to sit to the left of the frame at the same level as the top of the sawn-off pylon I side lit this subject. Side lighting keeps his hole deep and dark and gives him nice contrast from his environment.

With lighting established this was a game of wait and see. Eventually he got sick of hiding and poked his head out to say hello – and voila! I especially like the way his feelers stick up in advance of his eyes appearing. The second little guy was not so little and not so concerned. He watched me from this position as I crept closer and closer with the camera until I got to here. This shot is uncropped and close to minimum focus distance for my 100mm lens behind a flat port. As I thought in Komodo, it may well be time to splash out on a super macro converter.

Nov 192014
Sunbeams in Sinkholes

About the dive Kilsby’s is gorgeous…I’ve been there many, many times and it’s usually great. Then on some occasions it moves from being great to being truly awesome. These photos were taken on one of those days. On this particular weekend the whole cave diving world was booked in to dive Tank Cave. Myself and my parents had three awesome dives at Pics, Pines and Kilsby’s without seeing another soul. The water in both the Cathedral in Pics and in the main cavern of Pines was crystal clear. And then there was Kilsby’s. In early November I wasn’t sure if we’d be seeing much sunlight in the water. But by 9.45am [read more…]

Nov 042014
Tassie cave rescue exercise

  Since getting back from my trips after to France and Komodo, it’s been all work on the weekend front. Our Elk resupply trip and a weekend in Mt Gambier to talk at the CDAA AGM were followed by a trip down to Tassie to participate in a cave rescue exercise. The Tassie exercise was co-ordinated by Andreas of the STC, and partially funded by an ASF grant to get Al Warild down south from NSW to run it. Cave rescues in Tasmania are likely to be vertical affairs and the 4 day course focussed on rigging and lifting stretchers up and out to sunshine. The group attending included cavers from NSW, [read more…]

Oct 282014
Sunday afternoon in Pines

Weekend before last was the CDAA AGM and associated talks and dinner in Mt Gambier. After giving a talk on my evolution from cave diving to sump diving over the last ten years and listening a bunch of excellent presentations from the other speakers, it was great to get in the water on Sunday. Steve and I headed to Pines, a site I haven’t visited much since finishing my Tank pre-requisite dives some years ago. My Pines dives in the intervening time have mostly been with cave-rated buddies or for gear checkouts and involved photos of sunlight in the main cavern. So it was nice to be back, on the [read more…]

Oct 212014
Resupplying tanks into Elk River

After a trip over to Eurotek to talk about Elk River, and a couple of cancelled trips where for various reasons we didn’t get in the cave, it felt like it was time to go caving rather than talk about it. Our last trip into the cave was a push trip back in winter, where high water levels led to a sporting trip home back up the waterfalls. Steve and I laid some line and we also used a lot of tanks. Too many to carry out in one go – some of those empties were still in the cave. So this trip was to both retrieve the empties and [read more…]

Oct 172014
Diving the Lot - the Cregol

This was the best dive of the trip. You’ll have to excuse me for adding far too many photos to this post because I just can’t choose between them. Duncan and I headed off to the Cregol with our rebreathers while the rest of the team headed for Landenouse (which requires ropes to get in to). Unfortunately they ended up diving back at St Savaeur again due to divers at Landenouse, while Duncan and I had a brilliant day at the Cregol. The Cregol has an entrance restriction into the small and short first sump, followed by a large-ish dry chamber and a deep second sump. The second sump meant [read more…]