Winter Diving in CTBAR

The wind has been everywhere recently, Westerlies, Southerlies and Northerlies. Cabbage Tree Bay has been fairly sheltered and after spotting a large Grey Nurse Shark last weekend I was keen to get in again.

Some interesting behaviour witnessed today was the Eastern Maori Wrasse eating the eggs held on the tail of the male Weedy Seadragon. The eggs are very nutritious for predators and watching the hungry wrasse out-manoeuvre the poor Seadragon for an easy meal was fascinating, as time and time again they darted in for a feed. I only paused to take a couple of photos so as not to cause further stress.

There are so many Port Jackson sharks now, predominantly male, cruising across the reefs looking for love.

Even in wintry conditions there is plenty to see. Today I was surprised to find a Clown Toby hiding amongst the seaweed and a large shoal of stripey catfish sheltering by the reef to avoid the swell.


An underwater garden

Today my best dive buddy, Matt, joined me on one of our favourite dives in the aquatic reserve. The hardest part of the dive is getting in and out as you have to climb over a fence, down a cliff face, then over a sizeable cliff rockfall zone to get to the entry and exit point, all in full dive gear and camera equipment.

We call it extreme diving, but the reward is access to a beautiful dive spot we call “The Canyons”. The area is rich in corals, sponges, weedy seadragons, and seals have even been spotted here on several occasions.

New corals are appearing and spreading so rapidly they will be accessible to the majority of divers in a few years. One of them is a new species described as recently as 2013 from a specimen from Lord Howe island. Large mats of this hard tropical coral cover the reefs and with them come the species that associate with them.

Coralline algae colonies abound, these purple hard growths often being mistaken for corals are actually an algae.

Sponges abound too in all shapes and sizes from yellow spherical ones, concave mushroom-like ones that fish like to sit in, long finger-like clusters, even purple and blue ones in a variety of shapes and sizes.

This dive is weather dependent and can be quite dangerous if you haven’t dived it before, but here’s hoping to continued calm conditions!