Nov 242015

Kelp Forest in Lima

About the location

Lima is closer to the equator than I imagined, but compensates with ocean temperatures that are quite similar to Melbourne. The cool Humboldt current passes up the coast on its way to the Galapagos Islands. Combined with a capital city of nearly 9 million inhabitants, this makes for less than stellar vis on the coast. Local diving includes trips out to swim and snorkel with the huge sea lion colony, and rumours of great kelp forests.

About the dive

Given I was in town for three weeks I was pretty determined to get wet at some point. Some friends at work were kind enough to point me in the directions of Naylamps School of Diving who were able to pick me up and provide tanks, weights and Nicolas as a lovely dive guide. The boat left from Pucusana which is about an hour’s drive from Lima. After a very short run out around the back of the nearby island, we jumped in for the first dive. The water is deep green but relatively clear. I spent some time playing around with camera settings to compensate for the lack of light, and checking out the rocks for critters.

Selfie in the Lima kelp forest

The second dive was in the shallows of the kelp forest with a maximum depth around 12m. The green water and the huge trunks of kelp twisting up to the surface made it feel exactly like flying through a forest. I had to concentrate to manoeuvre my long strobe arms through the strands.

About the photos

Having left my strobe diffusers in Melbourne, I struggled to find the right angle that would allow enough lighting without too much backscatter. I also spent some time sneaking up on Nicolas to get photos of him between the kelp.

I love the glowing green shade of the water, completely different to blue tropical seas and even the grey blue Melbourne water in winter. We had a bit of surge which co-ordinated the movement of the kelp as it swayed in the currents. I was hoping for an inquisitive sea lion or larger fish to come through but no such luck on this occasion. This was my first dive in kelp forests and I’m looking forward to trying it out again – the underwater forest is a fantastic experience.

Oct 202015
Calendars 2016

It’s that time of year again, with Christmas creeping up on us and the pages of last year’s calendar starting to run out. Calendars f0r 2016 are now on sale. As with previous years I am doing a cave calendar and an ocean calendar. The caves version includes some stunning dry cave shots as well as the underwater stuff. And my ocean diving in the last 12 months reflects more on colourful temperate sponges and some rusty wrecks than the tropical critters of the previous version (though I did manage to squeeze one turtle in there). The full set of photos in each calendar is below. The photo pages are A4 (approx 12″ x 8″) with the dates grid below. [read more…]

Oct 132015
Sponges on Lonsdale Wall

About the site I love Lonsdale Wall. It’s my favourite dive site in Melbourne – better than the scuttled wrecks, better than the really-hard-to-get-on reefs. Even in terrible conditions it’s usually not bad and on a good day it’s stunning. With good vis you can hang over the edge of the wall and look down into deep blue water below. If there’s a little bit of tide still running you can drift slowly along beside the yellow zooanthids and orange sponges, watching fish follow you curiously. In short, it’s nice. About the dive Sunday’s dive was the afternoon slack at the end of the flood tide. With good vis outside that morning I was looking forward to blue water and [read more…]

Oct 042015
Cave Diving Kupang, Timor

Timor! I have just finished my third annual trip to the karst region of West Timor. In 2013 following some of Stefan Eberhard’s research, Stefan and I went for a quick reconnaissance trip. We spent a lot of time driving around and looking at dry holes in the tropical sun before finding our way into a major underwater system. On the last day we laid half a kilometre of line into massive blue tunnel with crystal clear water beckoning us on. It was enough of a high that organisation for the next trip began pretty quickly. In mid 2014 myself and five others headed back to the same area for further investigations. The first dive to continue the master tunnel [read more…]

Sep 222015
Wreck diving the Wareatea

About the wreck Unlike other wrecks in the Ship’s Graveyard, the Wareatea was a passenger and cargo transport, built in 1883. She ran between Melbourne and the north coast of Tasmania between Federation in 1901 and the end of WWII in 1945, when she was scuttled. The wreck has great life on it with nice sponge growth and schools of fish around. While the bow is somewhat twisted and flat to the seabed the stern stands up and has the prop and rudder still in position. About the dive After a few weeks of diving in some pretty average vis, I was wondering if wreck diving was all it’s cracked up to me. Upon jumping into deep blue ocean I decided [read more…]

Sep 152015
Dark water on the ex-HMAS Adelaide

About the wreck The ex-HMAS Adelaide is a sister ship to the ex-HMAS Canberra. Both were deliberately sunk after a useful life of service and now serve as diver attractions. I have dived the Canberra (which sits out of Melbourne) a few times, but I hadn’t visited the Adelaide. She can be found on the NSW Central Coast, just over an hour’s drive north of Sydney. About the dive I was up in NSW to give a talk at Dive Imports on the delights of cave diving around the country. After a great night with an enthusiastic audience we were up early Saturday morning to head out to the wreck. The topside weather was fantastic with bright sunshine. Unfortunately the [read more…]