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Weedy Sea Dragon Hunts

Article by Michael Abbott

My first dive on the Underwater Research Group boat for 2021 was looking promising as the sky was at last blue and wind was negligible. I was joined by Janet, Hatty, John S, Joshua B and Kris and naturally Kris wanted to get photos of sea dragons for her identification project.

We anchored at The Whale Watch Platform as indicated by spot 2 on the URG chart reader. The first 3 returned with glowing reports of a spectacular dive but cold and alas no weedys. As we descended, I noted that we were anchored in front of the cave which was full of bullseyes, old wifes and stripys. We headed through the pass to the deeper sand line at 21 meters finding 2 fiddler rays then back to the cave and along the wall to the south. Against the wall were schooling red morwong and one spot chromis guarding eggs.

Still no weedy so I turned back towards the anchor and stayed off the wall and over the healthy field of ecklonia radiata (kelp). Success there was a lovely big male complete with eggs attached to the tail. After getting photos for KO we headed back and up through a mass of mado to finish the dive.

Water was clear and blue with 20 degrees at the top but a chilly 15 on the bottom. Viz a good 15m. As we had John as skipper in the first buddy group (and Hatty in training) we had decided to do a drift from The Leap Deep into the bay. Tide was incoming. The first group surfaced on a surface marker bouy not far from the boat and reported lots of weedys. For our turn we started where they finished their dive and swam to level with the Steps. Viz was again very good and sponges and corals were abundant. We managed to find 2 weedys, one with eggs and numerous nudibranchs including a violet pteraeolidia with eggs.

We headed shallow earlier that we would have liked in search of warmer water and found 18

degrees at 5 M. There was a huge school of yellow tail scad streaming past on our 5 M safety stop so they must prefer it warmer too. Viz was 12 M+ and temperature was 14 on the bottom.

All in all, a lovely day and a successful weedy hunt.


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