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November 2022 Bulletin

Underwater Research Group of New South Wales

Presidents Slate

Hi all, apologies for the delay pushing this out.

I'm writing it from PNG so if all goes well, we'll have an interesting story to share next issue (and if it doesn't go well, I'm sure the story will be even more interesting!) Jens is somewhere in the tropics, and I just found out the Abbotts are in Fiji so hopefully we get a few good reviews in the December bulletin.

October was a sad month for the committee. Denise stepped back after years of dedicated service to the club. She remains an active member and I'm sure her guidance and advice regarding club matters will continue on.

Big thanks to the outgoing committee and all the work you put in in 2022, and a warm welcome to the new one. There are a few shuffles this year (see minutes below). Big welcome to Sarah Han DeBeaux who is joining as URG secretary. Since the AGM, we've had a new committee member join. Hatty Conwell is taking over the membership officer role from Rianti. Big thanks to Rianti for doing this over the last few years.

Turtle in Shelly Beach - Manly

This is all the news I have. Until next time, happy diving.


Duncan Heuer

AGM Recap

The AGM was held on Saturday 22 Oct at Clifton Gardens and attended by 25 members.

The presidents report by Duncan included:

  • Thanks to Marcus and John Swift for their amazing work getting the boat schedule organised and going out regularly.

  • Thanks for all the help with Bunnings (Pablo, Rianti, Josh, Vishal, Steven, Jens)

  • 36 dive events scheduled, including 19 boat launches and 155 divers in the water in the last year.

  • An update on Pablo's work generating a passive income for the club via return-and-earn initiatives.

  • Denise will be stepping away from the committee, after many years of service. The club would not be where it is without her efforts and we are all so thankful for everything she has put into the committee and the club over the years.

  • Thanks too to David Leha who stepped down. David took over secretary role while Charlie was away, as well as contributed to fundraising and dive-with-purpose initiatives.

The research report by Jens included:

URG members participated in:

  • 22 Surveys in Sydney

  • 26 Surveys in Jervis Bay

  • 105 Surveys in Lord Howe Island.

Participating members were John Turnbull, Josh Batchelor, Kris O’Keeffe, Josh Moloney, Martin Puchert, Lou de Beuzeville, Nyrie Palmer, David Leha.

Upcoming Projects

Marina Surveys

Based on Pablo’s contact with a marina that would like a biodiversity survey done and Pablo’s intel about SURG (Solitary Islands Research Group Inc) having done this type of surveys, I took contact to SURG. Their President, Nicola Fraser, kindly provided me with a couple of their survey reports and methodology which we could use for this (attached to this email) - something we can discuss further.

This could probably be done with divers and/or the uw drone. We could potentially do surveys for a number of marinas and in addition to the research value (we should contact universities) it could provide for free temporary moorings in various locations.

Seaweed Research

I have contact with a scientist, Dr Yola Metti, from The Australian Institute of Botanical

Science at the Botanic Gardens, who is looking to start up a project looking at Brown

seaweed species and their distribution. She is interested in us having input into the project with taking photographs and perhaps bring her samples. I’ll get some more info soon, and there might even be a chance for sponsorship to cover boat costs and air fills. Will also try to get her to give a talk at one of our meetings

Operation Posidonia

We have been invited to join “Operation Posidonia” which is a project focusing on restoring Posidonia seagrass meadows in Mossman, typically where they have been damaged by swing moorings. Project is run by SIMS, UNSW, DPI, and UWA.

The financial report has been emailed to all paid members

Janet Abbott as Returning Officer thanked the outgoing committee and read the nominations (with no contested positions) for the 2022/2023 Committee.

2022-23 committee:

Duncan Heuer - President

Pablo Bolomey - Vice President

Sarah Han de Beaux - Secretary

Josh Bachelor – Treasurer

Jens Sommer-Knudsen - Research Officer

Charlotte Elliott - Social

Some pics Charlie took on the AGM dive

History Article

EXOTIC CEYLON (Sri Lanka) - 1966

by Walt Deas

The glories of underwater Ceylon are rivalled only by her wonders on land. Nature has poured her gifts into Ceylon with a lavish hand - exquisite scenic beauty, a climate that ranges from warm summer to cool spring; blue mountains, green valleys, rippling streams and a countryside that is as fresh and as Arcadian in its charm as when, so goes legend, Alexander the Great visited it 2306 years ago.

The Ceylon Reefcombers' Club provides membership for visitors and is always glad to assist serious hunters and explorers. Visitors can join the club as an overseas member.

Ceylon has everything the skin diver needs. Stores retail equipment and most goods sell at the same price as in their country of origin. I was lucky to team up with Tony Buxton, a leading spearfisherman who knows the island and its waters intimately.

Later, I met that famous undersea hunter, Rodney Jonklaas (he also exports marine fish and deals in shells) one of the original Ceylon Reefcombers and internationally famous underwater photographer, Mike Wilson and his lovely wife. Mike must be one of the best equipped divers I have ever met. Ceylon, with a thousand miles of coastline, provides the spearfisher and underwater photographer with unique opportunities, some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs are within a few yards of the shore.

Visibility is seldom less than 30' and is well over 100' at times. It is sometimes too good for hunting as the fish can see the spearfisherman long before he gets within range.

Ceylon has the widest selection of beautiful coral fish in the world and many aquariums have been stocked from here. A reef runs nearly the whole way around Ceylon from 50 yards to a mile out to sea. Apart from miles of coral of all shapes, Ceylon has another underwater attraction - wrecks.

These include the 'Earl of Shaftsbury', 'Conch', 'The Hardingham' and the biggest wreck in the world - an 80,000 ton dry dock which sank in 1944 with a battleship in it. The battleship was eventually refloated.

Most wrecks are accessible and offer scope for exploration and photography.

A vast treasure was discovered on a wreck site which Mike Wilson first discovered in 1961 while diving from the reef on which stands the Great Basses Lighthouse, six miles off the south coast of Ceylon.

Later expeditions recovered in four days, thousands of silver coins, welded together in masses. The coins were Surat rupees, in excellent condition and carried the Arabic date 1113, the equivalent of a 1702/3 Christian date.

March is the best month for underwater activities when almost the entire island is surrounded by crystal clear water. Other good months are December to January.

On a beautiful coral reef not far from Colombo Harbour, Tony Buxton introduced me to brightly coloured fish and rarities of coral that were both new and fascinating. It was here on this reef that I really started shell collecting. Within a few minutes I had six Cypraeidae, four caputserpentis and two tigris. By the end of the dive I had also added Cypraea, coloba, ocellata, stolida, conus tessulatus, geographus, arentus, and some small auger shells.

If you are thinking of an underwater vacation, try Ceylon, you can live for £1 a day, inclusive, incomfort at the Government Guest House, mostly on beautiful stretches of palm-filled coast.

Walt Deas Diver, Photographer & Videographer

In memory: Walt Deas passed away May 2008

Walt Deas has been diving since 1950 when he dove with a Navy Oxygen rebreather, until the aqualung became available. In 1953, he was a founder member of the first scuba diving club in Scotland (Dundee). After moving to Australia, he became an internationally famous underwater photographer film maker and author.

Early Days of Diving & Move to Australia We were a very keen group interested in the underwater and because of shortage of equipment and money made a great deal of our early equipment.

Video Shooting and producing award winning documentaries, and working with stars like David Attenborough

Wreck Diving Walt has dove wrecks world wide from recent and WWII history to the HMS Pandora wrecked in 1791

The Bomber Reef This new documentary explores the history of Papua New Guinea, and the wartime history of the 38th Bombardment Group, 405th Bombardment Squadron, and the complete story of B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 that ditched from combat damage and remains intact as an underwater aircraft wreck.

Walt Deas with custom built housing and strobes for the 2 1/2" Rollie SLR camera. Typhoon wetsuit. Fenzy BC. 1968. Photo by Jean Deas at Bare Island, Botany Bay. South of Sydney, Australia.

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 and Facebook for dates and 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.


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