With a holiday coming up for some Northern hemisphere winter fun it was time to get out in the water again before leaving the warmth.
I booked in with team at Abyss once again, having noticed a slightly different shore dive listed for this weekend. Most of their weekly free shore dives are open to all qualified divers (PADI Open Water), but this one was limited to Advanced Divers with an objective to go a little further out on one of their regular dive sites.
I’ve dived Oak Park with them on a few occasions, so recognised their description of the Fish Soup objective would be a good challenge. After picking up some hire gear at the shop, we met around 9am at the site for our briefing prior to gearing up for the dive. I found a buddy for my first dive in Chris and we were told this dive had a very clear objective – to get us all to the Fish Soup part of the dive site. We were given a turnaround mark of 120bar with clear instruction that if any buddy pair got to this pressure we were to signal the instructors but then head back under our own devices. With all of us having dived the site before, we were given a couple of navigation reminders before heading off for the dive.
We entered the site next to the ocean pool which is the norm at this site, and then surface swam about 30m off the back of the pool before starting the dive. With our objective in mind we didn’t mess around once we were under and made a pretty good pace in some mixed visibility. Not the worst, but this site offers better on most occasions. With this pace there wasn’t much time to look around on the way, but a few of us paused briefly to look at a cuttlefish hiding under a ledge.
This photo of the cuttlefish is from our second dive, it was hiding a bit further under the ledge by that time.
After quite a lot of finning we came over the edge of the ‘bowl’ that is Fish Soup and started looking around. Unfortunately there wasn’t a great deal of life around on the day and with my buddy and I needed to leave after about a minute of looking around. We spun around, signalled to the DM and off we went. The return fin was a nice challenge with quite some ground to cover, testing our navigation skills and our dive fitness. Fortunately both of these passed muster on the day and we surfaced very close to where we commenced our dive, then had a short surface swim back to shore.
The dive group met back on the grass of the park and enjoyed a standard Abyss surface interval including tomato soup with tabasco sauce, cold cordial and bread rolls with Peanut Butter or Vegemite. The usual chat about the first dive and plans for the second dive ensued and a couple of divers who needed to leave bid farewell.
With everyone agreeing that there wasn’t enough life to warrant the rushed dive to get back to fish soup, we split into smaller groups and setup for our second dive. Heather joined Chris and I and we set off. We decided to do a more relaxed dive and get to ‘the cave’ that’s well known at the site if we had enough air, and then turnaround at this point. We took the same entry and then relaxed into a much slower pace, with both Heather and I looking for life to photograph.
We potted along, spotting plenty of life including many nudibranchs on the way out, as well as finding the cuttlefish again.
This small starfish was looking quite lonley
Along the way the classic Blue Groper joined our group
We reached the cave and had a quick look, though my strobe isn’t strong enough to penetrate the darkness for a decent photo of the 4 metre deep cave. Then it was time to start heading back. Some more nudibranchs along the way, and a few fish.
Some fish are hard to spot (this might be an Eastern Red Scorpionfish)
Others put on more of a show (this might be a Sergeant Baker)
And jellyfish come in all shapes and colours. This blue jellyfish was quite cool
A couple more Nudibranchs to finish
This one was TINY!
The rest of the gallery can be seen below.