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July 2022 Bulletin

Underwater Research Group of New South Wales


Presidents Slate


Welcome to a number of new members join us in June - Claudia, Tom, Jeremy, Victor, Zhijun, Hannah and Ryan. Looking forward to meeting you all soon.


Tom and Claudia came out on a freedive with myself, Charlie and Vishal at South Bondi. We went to look for the sharks, but they weren't about. Stunning viz regardless and lots of bait fish about.


Here is a video from South Bondi this week... and no we didn't take a skateboard with us... we found it on the dive.



June was a great month for diving. We had the best visibility we've seen all year. Unfortunately we had a few weekend dives cancelled because of a spike in swell or other unforeseen circumstances and writing this while the rain is lashing against the window makes me a little worried that that amazing water clarity might be a little effected after this low pressure.


After the last month's reveal about our financial position it was heartwarming to receive the response we from a number of members who demonstrated their commitment to keeping the club afloat. Big thanks to the membership for pulling together, renewing early and pre-booking a number of dives. We also had two generous members who wish to remain anonymous contribute to paying for the annual mooring cost, so massive thank you to them from all of us.


A recent post on the Viz Facebook page is a timely reminder for divers to check their equipment regularly, abide by servicing requirements and to keep your buddy close


"Scary dive today. I had a catastrophic regulator hose failure at 19m. I had to occy reg to shore with Rob Stewart. Thanks Rob. Life saver. Glad I wasn’t diving alone."


In other news, we have two Bunnings sausage sizzle opportunities to raise some more funds. We'd like to ask for some volunteers to help on Sunday 31 July date in Chatswood and Saturday 6th August in Tuggerah.


Lastly, you may noticed a reduced dive schedule in July and this is due to a number of a convenors going away to Manado. Good time to mention that we are always looking out for new convenors, so go grab your boat license and we'll help you learn how to handle the boat to convene dive trips.


Happy diving.

Duncan Heuer


Forster

Hatty Conwell


The excitement of the Forster dive weekend was sadly met with two-meter swells and shocking visibility. To this end we did not dive on Saturday. But all was not lost as Joshua and Swifty came to our farm for a BBQ instead. Whilst not the plan, fun all the same.


Sunday we met the same fate and the boat dives were again cancelled. However, the offer of a shore dive at Seal Rocks was on the cards. The assessment of the crashing waves and swell was not appealing however I could not resist, and shore dive I did.


The entry far from elegant, taken out by my buddy on the first wave, and was exhausting. Once recovered we descended and made our way to Statis Rock. The vis of three meters made the encounter with grey nurse sharks on the northwestern tip of the rock exhilarating.


Scavenging among the ledge of soft sponges and daisy sponges along the rocks were Moray eels and Wobbegongs. Schools of yellowtails covered the view. Returning to shore stingrays flitted on the sand. My exit was achieved with no grace yet not quite a crawl out of the water, with grateful assistance of Stephen the dive instructor from Dive Forster.


I am hoping we can dive with the team at Dive Forster in the not too distant future.






Article


Weekend away to Port Stephens doing Fly point or Pipe Saturday and dive to Broughton Island Sunday on 3, 4 & 5th June. Keep a lookout for article in following months.


The Gap

Michael Abbott


I was excited to finally get back to one of my favourite dive sites. The URG has numerous sites here being Two Johns, Abbotts retreat, Gap Cave, Gap Middle Ground and Gap propper. All good but basically anywhere along this stretch down around 15 meters to the sandline is very good diving.


We arrived at Clifton to find Swifty, and Josh waiting in the carpark.A big thanks to Josh for coming down just to show us how to untangle the spiders web of ropes holding the boat at the other wharf. Hatty soon turned up in her farm ute with a wheelbarrow on the back. This turned out to be a great way to get your gear to the wharf.


We motored out to the Gap and anchored at Gap Cave. Water colour looked OK so deployed the first dive crew. They returned after an hour with reports of zero viz at 20 meters and stated its hard to find weedys when you cant see your hand. Viz above 10 meters was around 3 meters.


Ok so change of plan . We went in with the idea of staying shallow. At the anchor we noted as previously told that it was wrapped around and under numerous boulders. Heading up to 12 meters we experience a strong surge. So stayed around 15 metres as a compromise.


Water was very milky and builders loomed up at of the gloom. Fish encountered where one spot chromis, yellowtail, silver trevally, mado, crimson and blue wrasse (M + F), sweep, maori wrasse, old wifes, ladder fin pomfret. Nudibranch included variable aphelodoris, and black margined Doriprismatica (which as a Doris previously).


A sad end to the dive was coming across a field of Sydney Hard Corals (Mcniellis) 90% of which were tally bleached white.


Yours in diving Michael Abbott



History Article

Night dive – Searching for seahorses.

Rebecca Davis - August 2001


After attending the July 2001 meeting, I was inspired to plan a night dive to look for the Sydney seahorse or White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei). Dr Keith Martin-Smith from McGill University (Canada) gave a most interesting talk on Project Seahorse. He informed us of the alarming size of the trade of dried seahorses to Hong Kong for use in Chinese medicines, with other concerns being bycatch from fishing and loss of habitat for seahorses around the world.

I have seen only a few seahorses when diving but apparently the trick is ‘getting your eye in’. In order to train my eyes, I will be hosting a night dive at Camp Cove on Friday 31 August 2001 with drinks/soup/socializing at my place afterwards. Meet at Camp Cove car park at 6.30 pm and hope to enter the water at 6.45 pm (high tide is at 18:55 hours).




Recent Events


Our social / general meeting is at the Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay was on Tuesday 14 June from 6pm - Licensee's Flat, The Oaks, 118 Military Rd, Neutral Bay. Pablo organised Louisa Xu from the ASTR Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue to come in and talk about what they do.


Editors Note. The recent message from the President is alarming. It seems the continuation of Covid19 into 2022 has impacted our finances more dramatically than the Committee expected. It is up to the Membership to now show they want to keep the boat by getting on board, renewing and diving with the club. It is not the first time in the Groups long history that we have had rough waters and the only way to sail through is for Members to get active and dive.


Dive gear has never been cheap circa 1955 advertisement in Spearfishing News so don't let it waste away.


Upcoming Events


Boat dives have resumed post COVID19 lockdowns and the URG cat is heading out most weekends from the St George Motor Boat Club Marina in San Souci. Check https://www.urgdiveclub.org.au/dive-calendar and Facebook for dates and conveners to book onto dives.


Now for the boat dives. This is by no means the best solution, but we are trying something new. First off, nothing changes if the old system worked for you. Check at the dive calendar on the website, text the convenor and go diving. That is still perfectly fine. The only change is the introduction of a shared google sheet, which you'll also now notice in a calendar (see screenshot below) where you can see all the weekends coming up and put your name down in the sheet. If it's too hard, just text the convenor like normal and they'll put your name on the sheet.


But why? This gives us visibility so we can be proactive and do extra shout-outs, nudges and reminders when the boat isn't full. In the past we were flying blind and only the convenor knew if the boat was full or not, and recently a number of trips got cancelled due to low numbers but because we couldn't see this, we didn't have the opportunity to do anything about it. It also gives members the option to plan ahead and commit to some dates in advance.


Please do the right thing and don't remove your name the night before a dive without telling the convenor about it. If you have to cancel a dive, please contact the convenor and don't assume they are watching the spreadsheet 24/7.


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.


We have also come up with some initiatives to re-energise and bring people together. Starting in June:

  1. The weedy sea-dragon research project will pick up again, with monthly boat dives to survey sea dragons, spearheaded by long standing member Kris O’Keeffe (starting this long weekend)

  2. Grey nurse shark surveys in conjunction with the Spot-a-Shark program in South Bondi and Magic Point led by Sarah Han de Beaux and/or myself

  3. Underwater drone exploration run by Jens Sommer-Knudsen

  4. Whale watching dives for northern and southern migration periods

  5. Let’s start back on regular social dinners, BBQ’s etc


Who are the Members ?


The URG Dive Club has people from all walks of life and age groups. Some are mainly interested in marine biology, others wrecks and photography. We all have one thing in common, — a strong interest in the underwater world!


Benefits of Membership

  • Enjoy our own dive boat

  • Scheduled dives every weekend

  • Weekends away up and down the coast and annual overseas trip

  • Opportunities for members to organise and run their own special interest dives

  • Dive buddies from all walks of life

  • Discount on all goods and air fills from Frog Dive Centre Willoughby



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