Thursday, 15 May 2014

biscuit, starfish

The Ballina and the John Penn have been declared as Historic Shipwrecks.
Along the coast and at Nobby's Head, Point Palmer and Racecourse head, scuba diving and snorkeling can be carried out on calmer days.

When investigating and searching for small critters it is always best to take a torch on every dive. Without a torch it is very difficult to recognise the creatures from their habitats. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
This bustling holiday centre tends to be overlooked by many divers, but it does have many reefs in shallow water with plenty of corals, reef fish, invertebrates and pelagic fish. Port Macquarie has an excellent range of accommodation.
Since they were protected ( some 30 years ago) the Blue Groper Acherodus viridis has become an integral part of every dive site along the New South Wales coast. Through the years they have learnt that where there are divers there just might be an easy feed. This female is eyeing me off with just that thought in mind.
( photo: Neville Coleman)

Ballina Shipwreck
The remains of the paddle steamer Ballina, which sank in 1879, rests in 10 m of water. High tide is the best time to dive on the wreck as the water is calm and relatively clear. Movements of the sand cover and uncover the wreckage all the time.
Although the Magnificent Ascidian Botryloides magnicoecum grows in several forms, there is no mistaking the colour and pattern. This species is prevelant on central and southern reefs along the new South Wales coastline on both inshore and offshore reefs. ( photo: Neville Coleman)

Cod Hole
Several gutters and a large cave are located on the southern side of this pretty reef, which slopes from 9-17 m. Divers are likely to see blue gropers, wobbegongs, moray eels and a variety of reef fish.
Found throughout southern Australia from southern Queensland around to south Western Australia, the Vermillion Biscuit Star Pentagonaster duebeni is unique in its pattern even though its colour may vary from bright red to orange, or yellow. ( photo: Neville Coleman)

South American Reef
This extensive reef is covered in sponges, gorgonians, sea tulips, soft corals and a few hard corals in depths from 10-20 m. Resident reef fish include lionfish, leatherjackets, wrasse, morwong, moray eels, scorpionfish and talma.
Large boulder reef covered in coraline algae and a smattering of sessile invertebrates. Rodger's Sea Urchins Centrostephenus rodgersi can be seen nessling in the gaps underthe boulder.
( photo: Neville Coleman)

Coral Reef
Coral Reef is one of Port Macquarie's best dives. Many fine sponges and corals cover the reef which rises from 20 m. The reef is sometimes visited by manta rays. Schools of kingfish and drummer are common as well as rock lobsters, wobbegongs, blue gropers and the occasional turtle.
Nudibranchs are well represented on the reefs around Port macquarie. This juvenile Acute Kaloplocamus Kaloplocamus acutus is one of the less common species. The species grows to 70 mm and feeds on bryozoans. ( photo: Neville Coleman)

Lighthouse Reef

This 2 km long reef lies at depths of 11-18 m. It is a great spot for photographing nudibranchs, shrimp, tubeworms, sponges, ascidians, gorgonians and corals as well as the larger reef fish and pelagics such as kingfish, mackerel, morwong and yellowtail.

Crested Morwongs Cheilodactylus vestitus feed on mobile invertebrates. Generally solitary of nature, they are often very easy to approach and generally sit around on the bottom during the day. This species is restriced to the Pacific ocean and is common at Lord Howe Island.


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