Starfish and crabs bringing life to the wharf piles on our AGM dive.

After the WUC AGM, Sue, Mike and Matt dived Shelly Bay wharves.

We snorkelled across the bay from the boat ramp, checked out the outer wharf first, maximum depth of 14 metres.  Dived part of the inner wharves next, then took a reciprocal bearing back to the boat ramp.  All up, a 60 minute dive. The visibility of about 4-5 metres was surprisingly good considering the preceding weather.  It had been blowing a southerly with rain much of the week, and on the day of our dive the wind had turned to the north.   There had been two days without rainfall, so that helped with the visibility.

The bottom type round the wharves is very shelly.  Between the entry point and wharves it’s sandy.  There is also plenty of silt throughout, which means you have to be mindful what your fins are doing – it’s very easy to have a photo subject disappear in a cloud of kicked-up silt.   

A notable thing about the dive was the number of starfish we saw, usually seen in groups entangled with each other, found on the bottom or on the wharf piles. Where we dived, there was some debris under the wharf from stuff that fell off it when it was in use, but not a lot, however that wasn’t our focus – we were more interested in what was on the wharf piles.  Other divers found more archaeological material, but more about that another time .

On our dive there weren’t many fish – some spotties and triplefin.  I was hoping to see Wellington nudibranchs, which you can find further along from Shelly Bay, but we had no such luck.. However, I did find a camouflage crab on a pile, conveniently at the five metre point where I did my safety stop – taking photos of it was a good way to constructively use three minutes.    Also, I enjoy converting what appears to be a bland scene underwater into something quite striking when it’s illuminated with the strobe light – see what you think of these photos.

It was definitely not tropical.  My computer said water temperature of 10 ℃.   The air temperature when we entered was 9 ℃, but the sun was out and the air temperature had improved when we came up, which provided a positive end to a nice dive.” 

Article and photos by Mike Johnston, Sue Nelson and Matthew Rolfe

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