|July 31, 2011
I'm in Australia for work but it's impossible to pass up the opportunity to do some diving while I'm here...despite the fact that it's the middle of the winter right now. After hunting around for a shop to dive with I finally settled on Dive Victoria. I called up an old friend and avid diver, Michael, to see if he would be interested in joining me on the dives. Turned out he was willing and able to go so we worked out the details and headed out.
Dive Victoria dives out of Queenscliff so after making the drive out there (I'm staying in Melbourne) we geared up and got ready to go. For the first time in my life I had to rent a 7 mm wet suit, a vest/hood to wear underneath and thick gloves due to the cold water temperature. Everything fit fine so we headed out for our first dive at Dragon's Lair.
Before making it to the site we swung by Portsea on the other side of the harbour entrance to pick up a few more divers and our divemaster, Fred. Fred is a seasoned divemaster and accustomed to the temperate diving conditions at this time of year. He was wearing a dry suit so the chill of the water wouldn't be an issue for him. Unfortunately the neck seal on Micheal's dry tore and he was unable to join us for the dive and would have to sit this one out.
We arrived at the site and, after going through the dive plan and the signals we would use, we were ready to get in the ocean. I wasn't really sure what to expect on entry except that it would be cold. I was right. The 7 mm wet suit dampened the initial shock of the icy water but after 5 seconds or so I felt the cold seeping in as the water permeated my suit. Naturally my exposed skin was the coldest so it was actually my lips where I felt it the most.
During our descent I began to adjust to the cold. My body heated the layer of water between my wet suit and my skin providing a bit more insulation. It wasn't comfortable like diving in the tropics but it certainly wasn't unbearable. But enough whining about the cold. Onto the dive.
The most apparent difference between temperate diving and topical diving is the kelp. The ocean floor was absolutely covered in kelp, swaying back and forth in the current. If I stared at the kelp for too long while the current swayed it towards me, I would get that sensation of moving even though I wasn't really moving. It's a bit disconcerting.
As we were diving through the reef we came across a small shark. It wasn't the least bit aggressive so I took as many shots as I could before it swam off.
Even in these cold waters there was still plenty of colour to be seen. I found a brightly coloured starfish that was perfectly proportioned.
After all of that we found, by far, the largest cuttlefish I have ever seen hiding out amongst the kelp. It was also the most passive cuttlefish I've ever seen. We were able to get right up to it and it didn't bolt. In fact, practically the only time it moved was when I focused my dive light on it. Clearly it sensed the light and would move away from it (so I stopped doing that). The first few shots I took with my flash on, which washed out a lot of the colour but still provided some interesting shots. After that I turned off the flash to get the full colour of the cuttlefish and its surroundings.
And as if all of that wasn't enough, as we were doing our ascent to end the dive, a seal quickly swam by.
Not too bad bad for my first dive in Australia.
|Location: Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia
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