After several false starts, due to diver availability and conditions, the JB RLS trip finally went ahead from Friday 13th of April to Monday 16th. The forecast looked ok – depending on whether you subscribe to the JT School of Optimism – with strong winds and moderate swell on most of the four days. We worked with the local knowledge of Andrew and Sue to put together a safe but productive plan, and four days later our team of 11 divers had completed 36 surveys around the bay.
Friday’s dives were on the northern sheltered side of the bay, at Dart Point and Honeymoon Bay. We surveyed three “S” sites, which meant aiming for four transects in a row. Conditions were good except for a blustery change that came through late-morning, and we finished a total of 11 surveys from the URG boat.
Saturday morning the lucky boat people set out to the Docks. But not before some fool (drugged up to their eyeballs on sea sick pills) stepped backwards into the path of the boat trailer after just waving said trailer by….um….yeah….not sure who’d be that silly. Knee injury ignored, we set off in ok conditions and surveyed two sites at the Docks (The Gulch and The Inner Tubes). The wind and water picked up early afternoon and we were lucky to have a very skilled skipper (Michael A) to get us back to shore. The shore group had dived at Bristol Point, after finding Bowen Island undiveable in the conditions.
Back to Sue’s to wash gear and get fills, one of the group (I can’t remember who) managed to leave their data soaking in a tub…to give it an extra great clean I’m sure and had to rely on the shore diving group to bring it back to the house. An evening of data entry, dinner and conversation followed.
Unfortunately, conditions meant there was no boat diving on Sunday and Monday, so on Sunday a smaller crew surveyed western sheltered sites at Hyams and Greenfield, while Michael, Janet and Denise had fun fixing the boat trailer which had been damaged the day before (not from hitting random people’s knees, but from a difficult retrieval of the boat in a very low tide). Because John V and LdB had nothing better to do, they hung out at Shoalhaven Hospital a boating store to pick up some crutches and boat parts – as you do.
Monday’s shore dives were once again limited to the west side of the bay, so we went back and did more at Greenfield before hitting the road for home.
Now for the poor individual who walked into the path of a moving trailer, broke their Mac Air, and temporarily lost their data, it could have been a really shit weekend. But it was actually worth it for the one in a million chance of taking a photo exactly as the hulas aligned to spell out…
Overall, we recorded 89 species of fish (32, 323 individuals), 36 invertebrates (4559 individuals) and 28 species of cryptic fish (876 individuals). Aside from the usual suspects (hulas, mado, pomfrets and scad) a few of the nicer finds were the gold-lined wrasse and painted rainbow wrasse and a miner crab.
Fascinating creature highlight: We think this is a miner hermit crab. Miner hermit crabs are scavengers and live in holes in rocks or very compressed sand; occasionally dig holes but usually just make bigger holes other molluscs have made and use them as a home. They carry the rock around like a “normal” hermit crab carries a shell but are fairly shy, only coming out to feed at night.
Thanks to everyone who participated, particularly those who took on additional effort in boat towing, boat sitting and the all-important cooking and provision of coffee and munchies on the boat;
Boat Towers and Sitters: Denise, John V, Janet and Michael
RLS Divers: Janet, Michael, Andrew, Bill, Sue, Lou, Martin, Kris, Yanir, Josh and John T