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February 2024 Bulletin

Underwater Research Group of New South Wales

Presidents Slate

Hey all, apologies for the delay on this one. I've not have 5 mins to write a slate and this has been in draft mode for almost 3 weeks.

After a bit of a slow start to the year, the boat is has a full schedule of convenors for a next few weeks, now we are just missing some divers. Availability is as follows:

Sat 24 Feb - Kathy (6 spots left)

Sat 2 March - Josh (3 spots left)

Sun 3 March - Pablo (3 spots left) - Clean up Australia Day

Sat 9 March - Vishal (3 spots left) - Women's Day

After these dates we need more convenors. Unfortunately I'm away (mostly work-related) from this week until mid April, so the next slot I can take the boat out is Sat 20 April.

There was a great turnout and some new faces at the general meeting last. We enjoyed an interesting presentation on Port Jackson Sharks by Rafaela Gurgel and a summary of the sea slug census by Jens.

Please note we will be running a Sausage Sizzle at the Chatswood Bunnings on April 14 to help raise funds for our mooring fees. Please sign up here. With many of the regulars away, if you can spare an hour or two it will be a great help to the club!

I also wanted to write an article on this by lacking the time to do so, so I thought I'd share a brief summary of a recent trip to Heron Island with Charlie, Sarah and Sam. The summary is it's amazing and you must put this on your to-do-list!

Green turtles

It was our third visit, and won't be our last. Watching turtles lay eggs, baby turtle hatch, photographing lemon sharks, black tip reef sharks and eagle rays in waist deep water around the lagoon, being pooped on by one of the 100 000 black noddy's that nest on the island or having one of the pesky rails invited itself into our room and steal some nuts, the place is a non-stop wildlife explosion.

Lemon Shark

Thats all the news I have for now. I'll endeavour to next the bulletin out in better time.


Duncan Heuer


Shellharbour's grey nurse sharks

by Sarah Han de Beaux

Bushrangers Bay is easily accessible from shore, shallow, sheltered in most conditions and full of Grey Nurse sharks. Surprisingly it was not considered as one of the aggregation sites in the 90s/2000s surveys, yet consistently it has an abundance of sharks that meets the government definition of an aggregation site. 

So last weekend I decided to do a shark count there and upload my photos to SpotAShark to see how many sharks there are.

In just 90 minutes as I sat chilling on the sand just 5m under the surface I counted 43 separate individuals based on the right flanks, 30 based on the left. These have been verified on spotashark and based on others divers that weekend too who also shared their photos, the total shark individuals so far looks to be in excess of 60 grey nurse sharks that weekend.

Interestingly many were male, including some fully mature whilst the majority were young.

Whilst this is epic and awesome as a diver to see so many beautiful sharks cruise by, what worries me is the lack of signage in the area to remind people about the code of conduct and to warn families with young children that its not a playground. 

Sadly, I saw a couple of divers doing everything they shouldn't...chasing sharks and touching the sharks. This of course resulted in the shark "boom" as 2 sharks quickly fled the area. I also saw young families at the surface just 2 metres from the sharks splashing around like crazy which could very easily excite the sharks.

Several sharks I saw had nasty hooks in their mouth and gills, reminding us of the importance to not discard fishing lines..but again where is the signage? 

I am keen to gather more evidence of the sharks in this area and have "recruited" some keen shark nerds to help me and the team at Spotashark collect and analyse data. If you want to help please give me a shout!

History Article

March 2003 General Meeting

Held at the Australian Museum on March 19th, 2003.

Meeting opened at 8:10pm, Dennis Hicks presiding, Debbie Conwell taking minutes.

Present: As per the attendance sheet.

Apologies: Robyn Stevens, Grahame Burns, Greg Conwell, Hereward Dundas-Taylor, Bibiana Fedorova, John Swift (in Tasmania).

Minutes: Printed in the March bulletin; accepted, Nicky Cooper; seconded, Mark Taylor.

New Members: 3 visitors at the meeting

Dive Schedule: Presented by Tony Wright, as printed in the bulletin.

Dive reports:


– Saturday double dive at Long Reef with boat sitters, diving at the Cathedral with 20m viz and big schools of fish then at the Apartments with 30m viz, a turtle and lots more fish. (Sigh!)

- Kurnell shore dive also excellent, lots of weedies, nudis, et al.


– Sunday driving out of the harbour a storm front hit with rain, wind and lightening, poor (surface) viz and a few doubts, but the sky cleared and conditions at the Colours were also great, inc. juv. lionfish

- Double dive to Henry’s Head then Kurnell was fantastic … and they saved a highly stressed diver and got him back to shore!


– Fairlight this afternoon with only 2m viz, but saw a giant boar fish, crested PJ and school of yellowtail kings!

Promotions: Green T-shirts at $30; no beanies, caps at $15; and a few stubbie holders still available.

Treasurer’s Report: As printed in the bulletin. Accepted, Allan Saben; seconded, Michael Abbott.

Maintenance: A broken gear cable cost $190 (parts only) to be fixed, possible damage is caused by changing gears when the engine is not running – please don’t.

History: Going along. Web site set up and finished bulletins are slotted into the format. Search being developed over the site too. Typing still available.

Research: Caulerpa dives are continuing, unfortunately successfully, with more growth found.

Simon has been assisting Judy at Manly Council by counting seahorses on the nets. They are being cleaned of rubbish but the marine life is not being touched, however they believe that prior to the net being changed there were 300 seahorses resident. These were just pulled out with the net and the most Simon has counted there now has been 3.

Still waiting for Fisheries revised methodology for North Head surveys.

SCAN: Barbecue happening this coming Sunday.

Social: Next social night planned for Saturday May 3, probably in the city. Watch the bulletin for more information.

Environment: Clean-up Australia Day was very successful, pulling out a trolley with seahorse, full set of clothes, bones, solo bin, but mostly straws, shopping bags and bait bags. (Little fish to be seen.) Help was appreciated and written up in local paper.

Safety: URG members going to Vanuatu have decided as a group to get ponies and fittings as described in the last bulletin, for safety’s sake.

Thanks to Erik Schlogl for this photo showing the trip went ahead!



– at JB, he assisted Sue the cook on Ocean Trek with PJ tagging for a Newcastle uni project. They are now requesting sightings of PJs, tagged and untagged, be reported. A link to the relevant site will be added to our web page.

- reported lots of small Caulerpa patches at Little Manly to Fisheries who are following it up.


– Donation bucket for a VHS radio for the boat, c $30.

- Survey response still poor, a follow up mailing to be done.

- Fri or Sat night 9/10 May, a night dive on the Currajong will be happening, about midnight, using commercial charter, costing $50


– MCCN no longer interested in weedy sightings, being past that stage of their research, so please stop sending sighting sheets.


– the Caulerpa patch identified and marked near 40 baskets, was followed up, found and salted by Fisheries. Dennis suggests a dive be done to see what effect this had.


– the Caulerpa taxifolia at Lord Howe is a native species

- if anyone is interested in taking on the editing, please let Debbie know.

Thanks: To Janet for providing supper.

Meeting closed at 9pm for Mike Richter’s link-up presentation on conservation with a speaker in Singapore.

URG Boat Photographs from our History Officers.

Taking a Friend for a Dive.

By Michael Abbott

It was around 2009 when after a few too many beers I volunteered to take a new guy at work from our Melbourne office for a Sydney dive. He had been in my ear for a few hours about how he was a great diver. I had had some sketchy experiences before with taking new acquaintances with unknown ability for dives but I found myself at Shelly Beach one morning without my regular buddy and with a second set of gear.


I was a bit worried when ho turned up in a 3 mm suit but he explained he had been in the military (not ours) and they were tough. We geared up with me overseeing and giving helpful hints and entered the water. The viz was very good but would soon deteriorate if I could not get my buddy off the bottom and the water not to cold.

Old Wives

After a while he got the message to stay up off the bottom and we started to enjoy the dive. I had my camera as he had asked if I could take some photos for his girlfriend.

Fiddler Ray or Banjo Shark

Spangled Emperor

I seemed to now spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder and signalling that it was Ok to come down a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised when I checked his air before the normal turn around but cautiously decided to head back in as he looked to be turning blue.

Overall a good dive and he did not stop raving about it for months afterwards. I had done my good deed.

Recent Events and News

Dive Log

This free read is highly recommended. Dive Log Australasia. please share with your diving friends.

Upcoming Events

Clean up Australia Day - 3rd March

3rd March is Clean Up Australia day and we will be running simultaneous shore and boat clean ups in Frenchman's Beach La Perouse - book on the boat as usual or fill out this form to sign up for the shore dive/ beach clean

Group Meetings at The Oaks - 12th March

Our general meeting for March will be help in the Licensees Flat (upstairs) at the Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay. For the meeting on March 12th we will have Harry Rosenthal. Harry will be talking about his recently published book "Holy Cow - I am a Citizen Scientist" and his involvement with the iNaturalist project. Having seen him speak before this will be a very engaging talk and a great reminder of the ongoing science we can contribute to with our pictures

Volvo Ocean Lovers Festival - 20th - 23rd March

This is a series of events and talks at Bondi Beach which may be of interest to our members - our very own Sarah Han-De-Beaux will be speaking about saving the Grey Nurse Shark at 2.45 pm on the Saturday on a panel with Valerie Taylor, more info here

Bunnings Sausage Sizzle - 14th April

We will be running a Sausage Sizzle at the Chatswood Bunnings to help raise funds for our mooring fees. Please sign up here, if you can spare an hour or two it will be a great help to the club!

Boat Dives

Boat dives are organised most weekends from the St George Motor Boat Club Marina in San Souci. Check and Facebook for dates and conveners to book onto dives.

No listing . Means there is no convener assigned to this day. However, all members are invited to organise a dive if they wish. You will need a URG Committee approved boat driver as well as a minimum of four (4) divers paying the usual maintenance contribution. Please coordinate the use of the boat with Josh, Jens or Pablo

Boat handling lessons.

Pablo or any another committee member are willing to run more lessons in boating skills covering everything from docking to to knots. Contact via email or Facebook if interested.

Editors Note

Published Items. The opinions expressed in the “URG Bulletin” are not necessarily those held by members, or the committee of the URG Dive Club. All material published in the URG Bulletin will remain the property of the original author or artist. Please give acknowledgment when citing articles.

Please check with the author informing them of your intention to republish their material, prior to publishing your article.


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