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Bulletin May 2022

Underwater Research Group of NSW

Presidents Slate

Hi all,

Not much to report on this month, as bad weather has meant is was largely a dry one. Fortunately visibility is improving so looking forward to better month ahead. Myself and Charlie did a free dive in Manly last week (it was fab) and our first scuba dive in Sydney since Feb in Bondi today. Visibility was about 10m. It was really good to see a couple of giant cuttlefish making an appearance again in Bondi.

Pablo organised some URG representation at the Bondi Ocean Lovers Festival in April and big thanks to him, Greer and Charlie for coming down to help with the clean up. Sadly, we found a weedy sea dragon in on the beach and collected it for David Booth since his license to gather them has now come through and he has nominated us as a "helper."

During the two day festival we got the opportunity to meet Plastic Free Boy and he invited us to do a presentation / workshop with him about the grey nurse shark project we are working on. We got word the sharks are back in Bondi as one was seen this morning. On a side note, a distressing thing we noticed was one of the new smart drum lines is placed daily on top of the cave where they aggregate in Bondi. At the festival we bought this to the attention of Amy Smoothey, a shark ecologist from DPI who was concerned but so far nothing has been done to move its location. When talking to her, she told us that since the drum lines were deployed after the fatality in Feb, they have hooked 6 dusky whalers and 1 tiger shark, fortunately no nurse sharks yet.


Tomorrow (8 May) we are running a Bunnings (Belrose) sausage sizzle to raise money for the club. It's not too late to volunteer as we don't have that many who offered to help and those that have will have to virtually do 6 hour shifts. If you can help, please get in touch or grab a slot on this spreadsheet. We'd really appreciate it. Call out to Rianti and Josh B for coordinating efforts.

Thanks to Michael and contributors for putting together a fantastic bulletin for May and big apologies that it's come out late.



Research Update

For Reef Life Surveys the boat is now temporarily at SIMS. An email will be circulated about when there will be pleasure dives available.

Weedy Seadragons - if you find any washed up please collect and freeze to

provide to David Booth of UTS. They are keen to investigate the cause of death as so

many have been washed up recently.

Article on Reef Life Survey on Lord Howe Island 2022

By John Turnbull

I think we were all wondering what we were doing out there. We couldn’t see Rabbit Island, much less the huge Mt Gower, as we pulled out from the shore at Signal Point. The rain was coming across the lagoon horizontally, carried on a wind that whipped the surface of the water up over the bow. When we got to the mooring at Comet’s Hole, we all gratefully rolled in to the quiet blue below the boat. Sadly, Justin (on boat watch) had to spend over an hour huddled in the “shelter” of the boat console… but we did surface with 4 completed transects.

This was probably the worst weather day, but it does describe the nature of this year’s RLS trip to Lord Howe - unsettled weather, coming from all directions, and often only vaguely resembling the forecast. We’d get sun for 20 minutes, then a squall and dump of heavy rain, then the sun would come out again. We had weather from the south, then the south west, then the north, then the south east… but thanks to the skill, knowledge and determination of the local Pro Dive and Marine Parks crews, and Toni’s calm daily “planning” sessions, we managed to get sites done each day.

Strangely, given the surface conditions, the water was clear and blue many days. The lagoon was a bit sloppy, but hey, with all that diversity, I’ll take a bit of wash and “only” 10 m viz. Sometimes it depended on the luck of the draw too (and whilst we’re all equal, some appear to be luckier than others). When we surveyed the submerged Phillip Rock, the northern sites were a washing machine but the southern lee side was calm and cruisy.

It was hard to not ask whether these unsettled weather patterns, also reflected in some of the worst floods and coastal conditions recorded on the mainland this year, aren’t a sign of things to come. Despite being a cooler La Nina year, the GBR has just had its 4th mass bleaching event in 7 years. Fortunately the corals at Lord Howe this year were in good condition; personally I saw no signs of bleaching on this trip. Hopefully they will stay that way.

A huge thanks to all involved; Justin and Caitlin from Marine Parks and new local RLS recruits San and Scruffy; RLSers Kris, Yanir, Josh M, Lizzie and Toni; Pro Dive crew Az and Dave, and the LHI board for providing accomodation in the Research Station. It’s such a pleasure to dive with such competent, unflappable people, gathering data that we know is essential to monitoring the health of life in our oceans, and supporting evidence-based conservation decisions.

Highlights for me this year were the company and can-do attitude of all my fellow RLSers, the creative dinners (which grew out of whatever ingredients we could find and afford at the local store), the diversity of fish species in the lagoon, the bluewater seascapes with colourful corals outside the lagoon, the afternoon run down to Ball’s Pyramid and back (accompanied by dolphins and sharks) to grab another two sites and the adventurous walks in our downtime hours, chaperoned by an adundance of the local wood hens which are rebounding now the rats are gone.

Thanks RLS!

Pics: there are lots in - take your pick!

History Article July 2002

Dive Deprivation

Debbie Conwell

I hadn’t been diving for two months … since mid-term break, but now my exams were over and I was committed to dive – since I was convening. The only trouble is I’m a bit dangerous straight after exams. It’s like I’m narked before ever I hit the water, but no one was keeping me away from those fish!

Last Saturday was a fantastic day, cool but fantastic. It was a beautiful day and it was one of the rare times when the seas were flat, laying at the bottom of the cliffs without a single splish. And the water was clear as well. You could tell from the boat that the viz was going to be okay.

We dived the Gap and we had a great dive. I just love diving!

Anyway, we dropped down to the sand line and meandered around until we found some weedies, there were about 7 quite close to one another. But while we were watching out for dragons we saw an angel!

I’ve dived the scallop beds in Jervis Bay in the hope of seeing an angel shark. We didn’t. We didn’t see much else either. That wasn’t one of my best dives. But here, swimming slowly just out on the sand, was an angel shark! It made my dive.

The diving in Sydney is pretty good. Two of the fish on my wish list that I only expected to see in JB I’ve seen here … with a bit of help from my friends. We have angel sharks and red indian fish. We just have it all.

Get wet!

Recent Events

Diving update (including any clean up dives) - Sadly not much diving in Sydney this

month with the floods still affecting water quality.

A General Meeting was held at the Oaks Hotel on 12 April 2022 where Sean Twomey gave a presentation on photogrammetry - an introduction to the basic software and how it can be used to model underwater structures, with some of his projects. Agisoft Metashape is $179, 3DF Zephyr has a free version with models of up to 50 photos..

Dive Story of the Month - Rye Pier

By Charlotte Elliott

During our recent sojourn on the Mornington Peninsula we managed a second dive at Rye Pier (see the last bulletin for a description of Flinders). Currently the first section of the pier is closed for renovations so you make an entrance from the beach and walk out 200m to begin the dive. There is a sneaky sandbank on the way out so just when you think it’s deep enough to descend it becomes shallow again and you need to walk a little further. We were there to find big belly seahorses but the first thing to catch our attention were the eleven armed seastars. These creatures are huge and completely littered the area under the pier where we entered. There were piles of them and I wondered if they were invasive but having done some research it appears they are native to the area. The water was a milky blue but compared to Sydney water at the moment we were thrilled with the visibility. We headed down the pier looking carefully for seahorses. As usual it took us a while to find the first one but once we did we realised they were everywhere.

It’s an easy dive, we followed the pier to the end and then followed markers out to an “artificial reef” of shopping trolleys and toilet bowls. Not the most visually appealing of reefs but full of life in the bare sand of Port Phillip bay, we saw several large octopus and a variety of fish life. Both our pier dives we had far better visibility than we usually get in our local Sydney pier dive - Clifton Gardens - and I would highly recommend making the effort if you are in the area. Spider Crab moulting season (usually May - June) is just beginning in the area and we were very sad not to be lucky enough to see any aggregations while we were there.

Upcoming Events

Clean up Australia

Pablo and Kathy Giles are organising a clean up at Parsley Bay which was postponed on 6th March. We are finalising new dates, so keep an eye out on your emails and/or on Facebook.

Boat dives

John Swift has done a stellar job of making sure the boat is running every weekend for the next three months. MASSIVE thank you John.

The URG cat is normally moored at the St George Motor Boat Club Marina in San Souci. Check and Facebook for dates and make sure to reach out to the conveners to book onto dives.

Boat handling lessons.

Pablo is willing to run more lessons in boating skills covering everything from docking to to knots. Contact him via facebook if interested.

Photography Lessons

Due to the ongoing floods of 2022 caused by a combination of fonts from Nth QLD and east coast lows the underwater photography workshop for members scheduled on the 9th April at Clifton Gardens was cancelled. The story of 2022. Hopefully our president and secretary who are both excellent photographers will reschedule.

URG Trips 2022

Our trip to recent Forster was washed out due to heavy rain pollution and seas so we are rescheduling for 28 and 29 May 2022. Look out for event on Facebook or call Michael 0407 250 566 for information. We will be staying at the Lakes and Ocean Hotel at 10 Little Street, Forster NSW and diving with Ron Hunter at Dive Forster at Fisherman's Wharf 86 Little street Forster NSW on both Saturday and Sunday.

Weekend away to Port Stephens doing Fly point or Pipe on Saturday and dive to Broughton Island Sunday is booked for the 3, 4 & 5th June. Look out for event on Facebook or call Michael 0407 250 566 for information

Overseas trip - delayed 2 years due to covid but finally going ahead, going to

North Sulawesi. Two resorts, 6 nights each, first Manado with warm clear water and walls then Lembe Strait which is world famous for macro and critters. July 6th-21st. 7 members booked so far.

Who Runs the URG Dive Club?

A committee of 6 (in theory) is elected by club members once a year. The committee meets monthly to formulate club policy and determine the activity program for the following months. The committee may also appoint sub committees to perform specific tasks such as organising special events, fund raising or maintenance of assets.


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