Rick, Toni and I headed up to sunny Port Stephens recently to train some keen locals in RLS methods. The UTAS dive officer, Simon Talbot, came along to help out and get some deeper sites done on re-breather (with Carl). We trained 6 volunteers, including the three PURG members, Michelle Crighton, Dave Arthur and Steve Green; along with locals Isabelle Strachan, Suzanne Fiebig and Kate Tinson. Some of our most reliable RLS volunteers also came along for parts of the trip – Tom, Margo and Ash, and Andrew and Bill.
We did a combination of boat and shore dives, with dives out at Broughton Island and surroundings on three of the days, and dives at Halifax, Fly, Little Beach and the Pipeline from shore. Plenty of cool species were seen and recorded, including grey nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus), black cod Epinephelus daemelii (listed as vulnerable in NSW), and some huge Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis). We also came across some cool nudibranchs, including Ceratosoma amoenum and Chromodoris splendida.
Another highlight included seeing Margo’s reaction to coming across an ENORMOUS school of yellowtail scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae) and pomfrets (Schuettea scalaripinnis) on her transect line – see picture. She threw her hands up in despair, and I responded with a big ‘ha ha’. The buddy signal for ‘ha ha’ is throwing your head back and grabbing your stomach to imitate a big belly laugh. Margo’s buddy signal reply was um…much simpler…
Thanks to all who participated, to Simon and Carl for helping out with re-breather and to the dive shop – Pro Dive Nelson Bay – for boat charter, gear hire and accommodation. Thanks heaps to Dave Harasti and Alan Jordan for all the insider info regarding local dive sites, conditions, species info and support for the project.