N I G E L M A R S H P H O T O G R A P H Y
U N D E R W A T E R I M A G E S A N D A R T I C L E S
TWO BRILLIANT DIVES AT SOUTH WEST ROCKS
By Nigel Marsh and Helen Rose
Fish Rock Cave, off South West Rocks, is one of the most famous dive sites in Australia and always a brilliant dive. But there are a number of other spectacular dive sites at South West Rocks that are almost as good, one of those sites is Green Island.
On a recent trip to South West Rocks we were looking forward to exploring the wonderful Fish Rock Cave again, but when Jon Cragg, the owner of Fish Rock Dive Centre, informed us that Green Island was ‘going off’ we knew we also had to checkout this dive site. We have dived Green Island a number of times and always found it a lovely dive, so were very interested to see what it was like when ‘going off’.
The next morning found us on the Fish Rock Dive Centre charter boat, Terror, a 7.5m catamaran surveyed for 12 divers, and tied to the mooring at Green Island. The conditions couldn’t have been better, light winds and slight seas. We slipped into the water to be greeted by 15m visibility and 22°C water. Drifting to the boulder covered bottom we were quickly surrounded by fish; mado, yellowtail, bullseyes and trevally – there were fish everywhere.
We explored the rocky bottom in depths to 15m and encountered blue spotted stingrays, common stingarees, red morwong, green moray eels, blue gropers, a wide variety of reef fish and countless wobbegong sharks. There were so many wobbegongs littering the bottom that you had to be careful where you placed a hand or fin. We followed the reef edge for forty minutes, almost circumnavigating the island, and also encountered several large black blotched stingrays, nudibranchs, hermit crabs, octopus, turtles, spotted eagle rays and many more wobbies. Green Island was certainly ‘going off’ with the masses of marine life.
We returned to the boat via the shallows, exploring the rocky walls and ledges here. More wobbies, moray eels and blue gropers were to be seen here, plus lionfish, a white spotted shovelnose ray and massive schools of trevally and silver drummer. It was just one of those magic dives where you are reluctant to leave the water, but we still had Fish Rock to come.
Fortunately our second dive at Fish Rock was just as good. We have been through Fish Rock Cave many times, so today decided to explore the shark gutters for grey nurse sharks. The visibility was a wonderful 20m as we explored a number of deep gutters to find black coral trees, wobbies, blue gropers and turtles, but only two grey nurse sharks. We then headed into the nursery area in front of the cave’s shallow entrance. Here a current was running, which had inturn attracted masses of fish, several black blotched stingrays and several more grey nurse sharks.
Hanging in the current we watched the grey nurse patrol the reef and admired the way the stingrays hovered off the bottom without expelling an ounce of energy. We naturally couldn’t resist a short journey into the cave, and ran into the resident hawksbill turtle. But the highlight of the dive was the moray eels we encountered when returning to the boat. We saw around a dozen green, white eye and Abbott’s morays, but the best were two rare mosaic morays, armed with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth.
These two brilliant dives just reinforced why South West Rocks is one of the best dive destinations in New South Wales.
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