March – What an unexpected surprise!

Seaway Dive 24th March 2019

I hadn’t planned on diving Sunday – it was a last minute thing to become available.

The weather had not been handing out great in-water conditions at the seaway, so I didn’t prep the camera

Curious little octopus!

– instead wanting to work with a diver on their buoyancy control in slightly challenging conditions.  Was I wrong about how memorable the day was.

But let’s not get ahead of things. The photos underwater are from previous dives – so that you get the idea of what critters we saw – but in very poor conditions. The surface shots were thanks to our surface watch Andy from FromThinAir Productions, who just happened to pull out the iphone at the right time!

 

We arrived to an unwelcome surprise. advised that 24 hours earlier the Seaway tide turned an hour after what was projected.

Banded Cleaner Shrimp

White Eyed Moray

When we arrived at 9:15, the tide had already turned – at least 1.5hours BEFORE high tide!!  Disappointing, but we still kitted up and tried to get in ASAP before the current really started to drag us seaward. Our dive was uneventful, with only a mild current to swim into for the near hour-long duration, with many critters spotted in the low visibility. The two buddy teams lost each other periodically, with the visibility down to 1m in some places – but with enough distance to catch each other to point out specific interests along the way.

 

 

Crocodilefish!

Lace curtain on a Crocodilefish eye

We spotted Greyface/White-Eyed Moray Eel, a gnarly old Yellow Margined Moray Eel… a very well camouflaged stonefish looking at us grumpily, a curious octopus, although shy,  and my favourite spot – a crocodile fish!! I searched high and low for the recently-spotted frogfish, and the ornate ghost pipefish, but came away unsuccessful. Flathead hanging out everywhere!

 

 

Hermit Crabs everywhere!

Our second trip ran as an outgoing drift – a little more challenging as any disturbance of the silt then flowed in front of us ‘muddying the waters’ ahead. One of the very first things spotted was a mottled catfish which seemed remarkable calm at our approach. On closer inspection I discovered the ‘very chill’ guy was actually snagged badly on a fishing line! As we meandered onwards we inspected many nooks & crannies, spotted a little yellow spotted boxfish (juvenile), lots more cleaner shrimps, and another Octopus that was very curious, even after getting a mild sandstorm blown over him when the surge from a passing big boat hit us all. We rounded the point in the shallows and then descended down to show the divers ‘the poo-pipe’ which was discharging processed water into the outgoing tide.

 

Clear Body Shrimp

Hooking up towards the steps, the divers found a big Cod nestled in a grotto nearby, so by the excitement in their eyes I decided to take them down to the 3 water tanks on the off chance my old friend the QLD Grouper was hanging out in the big one. Drifting down to the Sandpiper, it seemed a much larger distance than usual due to the low visibility. We arrived at the tanks, and I peeked inside the largest. Much sanddrift has now made the accessible area inside much small than my last visit, and with just stripeys and a large sweetlip inside, I decided Mr Grouper probably didn’t hang out in there much due to the reduced space. Moving around to the middle and low tank, I bumped into two large lionfish hiding out of the current, and a mass of Stripeys in the middle tank.  In case there was something exciting in the low tank – who’s access is now only just big enough for your head, I peered inside to no avail. I looked back to the 3 divers and didi a double take – when did another diver join us? Peering closer, the diver blob came closer and I realised it was one of the Grouper I was searching for – but wow he has grown since I last saw him.  Excitedly I pointed him out to the guys,  and even Simon, who was less than 2m away didn’t realize immediately that he was looking at an enormous fish, right next to him!

When Mr Grouper (or his buddy) was a little smaller he fit into the top water tank)

The first time I met Mr Grouper (or his buddy) he was a little shy at first.

And then he got a little used to me… and curious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Grouper completely ignored Simon next to him and quietly swam up-current to me, as I retracted my pointing arm, until we were nose-to-nose. Elated but I admit I was a little wary, but then, if he decided to nip me there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it! Enormous, filling my vision, he came close enough for a cuddle – (although I didn’t really 🙂 )  Mr Grouper hung there for awhile and then headed off into the  the murk.

 

 

Mr Grouper was…. ENORMOUS!!!

The visibility was,… well,… challenging!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day in the top watertank – Mr Grouper flashing his beautiful yellow fins (and tail)

It’s not all that often I use the ‘Mind Blown’ underwater signal – and funnily enough during the briefing for this dive Simon asked what my signal for mind blowing was – was there some premonition Simon? I reckon maybe!

Enough for now – Time to plan the next dive! 

 

Toodlepip!