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Photo Gallery: South Australia

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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The next feature in our new Gallery series where we let the photos tell the story… This week, Nick and Caroline showcase South Australia.

When we travelled to South Australia we had one thing on our mind, to photograph Great White Sharks for our book World’s Best Wildlife Dive Sites. We had also been commissioned to write an article about our travels and so wanted to pack in as much as possible in our all too short stay. We knew that is was possible to photograph leafy seadragons in the area, so we arranged that, before heading to Kangaroo Island (where we also found seadragons. There is so much to see and do in this area, with great wine on offer too! We were lucky enough to meet, and spend a morning with, Rodney Fox (along with his wife Kay), to chat about their amazing life that has revolved around the Great White Shark for the past 60 years! Our shark diving was done with Rodney’s son Andrew, who has taken over the business and runs expeditions to the Neptune Islands year-round.

Alas we went in our summer, and therefore their winter, and did not get the best of the diving conditions. But we got most of the stuff we wanted, and our short trip just made us want to return someday to try it all again.

Image 1:  A New Zealand Fur Seal plays with us for the final part of our dive. We had gone looking for Leafy Seadragons, but come away with an amazing experience of 3 of these seals turning and twisting around us a great speed.

 

Image 2:  A Great White Shark cruises near (but not near enough) our submerged cage. The Rodney Fox Expedition is the only one that offers a cage down to the sea floor where you can get more natural shots of these magnificent sharks, but alas the weather and visibility was against us. Still quite an incredible experience though!

 

Image 3:  Our other main marine life target was the Leafy Seadragon and we saw these diving at Rapid Bay Jetty near Adelaide and whilst diving Kangaroo Island. They are delicate creatures, closely related to the seahorse, and have superb camouflage. You really need to move slowly and keep your eyes peeled to see them. This image shows how they blend in with the seaweed. We made sure we did not stress out these creatures and only took a handful of shots of each one we encountered, as there is some worry that divers are disturbing them and causing a drop in their population figures.

 

Image 4:  As the underwater conditions were less than perfect, we also took some topside shots. The Great White Sharks are not fed on these trips (this is against the marine park rules) but tuna heads are used to tempt them closer to the cages. This shark took a lunge to see if it could grab the fish head in time. In the evenings, we sat down with Andrew Fox, who used our images to identify individual sharks, which much of the time he can do on sight.

 

Image 5:  Under Rapid Bay Jetty there is a host of other fish and marine life to explore, if you ever find that you have had your fill of the seadragons. At the end of the pier, a dive they call the Aquarium, is well worth a visit, with nudibranchs, schooling fish and huge sponges, there is enough to keep you entertained for several more dives.

 

Image 6:  The chum designed to attract the sharks also attracts plenty of other fish, who seem unconcerned by the huge predators that cruised past. With the cage moving around in the swell, it was tough underwater photography conditions. We will just have to go back!

 

Image 7:  Little Penguins come out at night at some coastal locations in South Australia and you can do night tours to see them as they head back to their roosts at dusk. This is a great post dive experience, and there is so much wildlife to see on land, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats……

 

Image 8:  We also visited an Australian Sea Lion colony on Kangaroo Island. These charismatic animals may go out feeding for days on end, and then will return for a well-deserved snooze. Whilst you are required to keep to strict paths so as not to disturb the colony, sometimes you will get some really close encounters.

 

South Australia has so much to offer both above and below the waves. We flew into Adelaide and then hired a car so that we could tour the vineyards and get to the dive sites and onto Kangaroo Island. We did a short flight to hop from Adelaide to Port Lincoln in order to catch our expedition boat to the Neptune Islands, where we spent four days out at sea trying to photograph the Great White Sharks. What would we change – only the weather, so next time we will try again in Spring or Autumn.

Take a look at these links to find out more about Diving South Australia:

www.rodneyfox.com.au

www.underwatersports.com.au

www.kimarineadventures.com.au

www.southaustralia.com

For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com

 

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Top 12 Dive Destinations in Oceania – Part 2

Scuba Schools International (SSI)

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Oceania has a fascinating mixture of well-known romantic destinations and wild, remote dive spots that few people ever get to visit. It is a region of contrasts with enough dive destinations and cultural highlights to satisfy even the most adventurous divers. In part II of 12 great places to go diving in Oceania, we take a deep dive into some of this region’s most famous and little-known islands. Get inspired for your next dive trip to Oceania here.


French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s Society Islands have a stellar list of dive destinations, including Tahiti and Moorea. Between them, they offer easy coral reef diving and calm, turquoise lagoons with friendly stingrays and blacktip reef sharks. You can also swim with humpback whales, tiger sharks, lemon and nurse sharks there.

This beautiful nation’s best-known dive spots, Fakarava and Rangiroa atolls, are just a short flight away from the Society Islands. Both of these huge atolls offer exciting pass dives with hundreds of grey reef sharks and resident dolphins.

For a completely different dive experience, visit the Marquesas Islands. This island group is the farthest from any landfall on Earth and has a unique underwater world that hosts unusually large mantas and melon-headed whales.

And if that all sounds like too much effort, go Bora Bora scuba diving instead. This ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ has fantastic diving, and you can spend your downtime relaxing with champagne lunches on deserted islands.


The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are a haven for more than 1000 reef fish species and numerous prized critters, plus dolphins, sharks, rays and six species of sea turtle. Hosting hundreds of wrecks and remote hard coral reefs, there is something for every diver there.

The Russell Islands host some of the best-known dive sites in all of the Solomon Islands. There, you can glide between the walls of a crevasse that cuts through an island, immerse yourself in wreck diving at White Sand Beach, swim through a halocline at Custom Caves, or go in search of pygmy seahorses.

For the best wreck diving, make sure you visit Iron Bottom Sound. This stretch of water hosts around 200 ships and more than 600 aircraft wrecks from World War II. It is a wreck diving mecca that offers excellent tech-wreck dives.


The Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is a chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls that few people know about. As the fifth least visited country in the world, these islands offer remote diving among exciting deep wrecks and vibrant coral reefs.

Bikini Atoll is the main dive destination in the Marshall Islands. Made famous by US atomic bomb tests in the 1940s, this atoll hosts numerous deep wrecks that offer incredible tech diving.

As well as some of the best tech-wreck dives imaginable, the Marshall Islands also have thriving hard coral reefs without any dive crowds. There are pinnacles, drop-offs, channels and shallow coral gardens to explore, busy with colorful reef life.


The Cook Islands

When it comes to warm welcomes, it’s hard to beat the Cook Islands. From the moment you arrive, you will be drawn into one of the friendliest nations in the world and won’t want to leave.

This wonderful country is a perfect place to get your Open Water Diver certification or take your family diving. Rarotonga is the main destination for tourism and is a charming island with fresh markets, cafes, restaurants, and resorts tucked away among the palms. There are around 25 dive sites just offshore and gorgeous beaches for laid-back surface intervals.

Nearby Aitutaki has fewer visitors, yet it hosts around 22 dive sites, with many still being discovered. It is a great place to dive among remote coral-covered landscapes and forget the rest of the world exists. Whichever island you choose, the waters are warm and full of colorful reef life.


New Caledonia

New Caledonia is one of those wish-list destinations known for its spectacular diving, crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life. Unlike some remote destinations in Oceania, New Caledonia has modern infrastructure that makes it easy to explore at your pace – by car or island hopping with regular domestic flights.

There are over 100 dive sites scatted around New Caledonia, offering a tempting mix of deep drop-offs, thrilling drift dives, wrecks, and easy reef diving. Most diving is conducted at the New Caledonia Barrier Reef, a vast 1500 km-long reef that encloses a UNESCO World Heritage lagoon. Within the lagoon, you can explore coral-encrusted walls, channels, and easy dive sites in shallow waters.

New Caledonia’s extensive marine reserves ensure these dive sites are teeming with life. For the best chance to see mantas and sharks, visit from April until September.


Vanuatu

Vanuatu is the perfect place to reconnect with nature, offering untouched rainforests, natural swimming holes and excellent scuba diving.

Pristine reefs abound in Vanuatu, with many dive sites accessible simply by walking off the beach. Million Dollar Point is one of the most unique dive spots and hosts an array of machinery and equipment dumped by the US after World War II. The SS President Coolidge, a former World War II troop carrier, and the 1874 three-masted Star of Russia are excellent wrecks to dive.

The amount of marine life at Vanuatu’s dive sites is staggering. As well as rainbow-hued corals and countless reef fish, there are sea turtles, sharks, rays, and numerous pelagic fish. You can also go swimming with dugongs there.


Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, home to more than 850 known languages and hundreds of different tribes. It is unlike anywhere else in Oceania.

Along with the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea has some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world, including at Kimbe Bay. This special bay was once ranked as the most beautiful reef by National Geographic.

The nearby Witu Islands are a great place to go critter hunting and drift dive among schools of tuna and barracuda. Milne Bay is the home of muck diving and offers excellent shallow muck and reef diving with numerous critters.

There are seamounts busy with reef sharks and exciting walls at Fathers Reefs, and you can dive in the shadow of jungle-covered fjords at Tufi.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

 

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Top 12 Dive Destinations in Oceania – Part I

Scuba Schools International (SSI)

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Encompassing over 8 million square kilometers of clear blue waters, Oceania hosts some of the world’s most sought-after dive destinations. There are remote, untouched reefs and wreck diving meccas, countless forest-draped islands, and volcanic landscapes with rich black sands full of critters. With abundant marine megafauna as well, including mantas, whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and tens of thousands of sea turtles, Oceania is a paradise for every diver. Read on for part I of our round-up of 12 great places to go diving in Oceania.


Australia

Drop a pin on a map of Australia’s vast coastline and you will likely land close to some epic scuba diving. There are dozens of places to experience the best of Australia’s rich and varied dive scene.

In the remote northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, you can dive Raine Island, a famous coral cay and sea turtle nesting area that hosts more than 60,000 green turtles each nesting season.

A little further south at Cairns, there is classic Great barrier Reef scuba diving, including shark diving, snorkeling with dwarf minke whales, and numerous offshore reefs. It is also one of the best places to get your diving license.

The southern Great Barrier Reef hosts Australia’s best-known manta ray hotspots, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island. As well hosting over 100 mantas, the southern Great Barrier Reef also hosts one of the world’s best-preserved wrecks, the SS Yongala.

There is also excellent diving close to many of Australia’s coastal towns and cities. You can go diving with beautiful weedy sea dragons near Melbourne, go cage diving with great white sharks off Port Lincoln, or hang out with enormous stingrays in Port Philip Bay.

With Ningaloo Reef’s many whale sharks, remote coral atoll diving at Rowley Shoals, and diving with nurse sharks at Fish Rock Cave as well, you’ll be spoiled for choice wherever you go.


New Zealand

New Zealand may be a lot smaller than Australia, but it packs a punch when it comes to scuba diving. With over 600 islands, 44 marine reserves, and the 9th longest coastline in the world, diving in New Zealand is diverse and fascinating.

Sun-soaked Northland is the best place to start your diving trip and features the colorful Rainbow Warrior and HMNZS Canterbury wrecks and the Poor Knights Islands. These unique islands were rated as one of the world’s top ten dives by Jacques Cousteau and offer sub-tropical diving with both temperate species and tropical visitors.

Further south, the Mercury and Aldermen Islands are dotted with white sand beaches and have fantastic warm-water diving. There are enough submerged caves, pinnacles and drop-offs to keep any diver busy. Seasonal visitors include whales, bronze whaler sharks, makos and marlin.

If you love wreck diving, make sure you dive the Mikhael Lermontov in the Marlborough Sounds. This 155-meter-long cruise ship is one of the largest modern diving wrecks and has many of its original furnishings.

Make sure you drive south to Kaikoura if you love whales and sea birds. Kaikoura is one of the only places in the world with a resident population of sperm whales, plus visiting orcas, humpback whales and numerous albatrosses. You can also swim with seals and dolphins there.

Last but by no means least, visit Fiordland – a jaw-dropping 2.6 million hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site. This vast wilderness area hosts spectacular multi-day hikes and has excellent cold-water diving and rare black corals in Milford Sound.


Fiji

Fiji is a classic dive destination in Oceania, offering a wealth of palm-fringed islands and dive highlights worthy of any bucket list. If you’re looking for a destination that has something for every dive experience level, and plenty for non-divers too, Fiji could be for you.

Viti Levu, the main tourism hub, is famous for its shark dives with bull, tiger and reef sharks. There are also beautiful coral reefs just offshore. Go island hopping from Viti Levu and you’ll be immersed in a world of vibrant soft coral landscapes, with manta ray cleaning stations, thrilling drift dives and fast-paced pelagic action.

If you like laid-back diving, you could easily while away your days drifting over Fiji’s many shallow coral gardens. That said, it pays to go deep and experience Fiji’s famously colorful Great White Wall and Purple Wall dive sites.

On your non-diving days, be sure to explore topside. The friendly Fijian welcome, excellent jungle hikes, lush rainforests and waterfalls are not to be missed.


The Federated States of Micronesia

Micronesia is high on the wish list for many divers and is a tropical paradise destination with over 600 islands. It is best-known as a wreck diving mecca, with dozens of World War II wrecks.

The wrecks of Chuuk Lagoon are renowned among divers as some of the best in the world. This calm, warm lagoon was the site of a fierce battle in World War II that resulted in hundreds of ships, planes and submarines sinking. Today, around 50 of the wrecks can be dived and they are covered in rainbow-hued corals. Diving among the tanks, trucks and airplanes of the lagoon brings history to life in the most vivid way.

Micronesia’s rich waters also host countless shallow reefs, famous manta ray diving at Yap, exciting walls, caverns and drop-offs. If you’re prepared to go off the beaten path, Kosrae has some of the most pristine diving in the world.


Palau

Palau is ideal for divers who like to experience a range of dive styles in one trip and encounter marine life large and small.

This picture-perfect destination has diverse underwater highlights, including diving at a natural corner in the ocean, plunging walls, World War II wrecks, and famous manta ray dives. There is also excellent cave diving, and you can swim with millions of harmless jellyfish.

Wherever you dive, you can tick off some of Palau’s 1300 fish species and 700 coral species. Dugongs, Napoleon wrasse and giant clams are some of the more unusual big marine species to find and you can spot rare mandarinfish at Chandelier Caves. Being the world’s first shark sanctuary, Palau’s waters are also busy with sharks.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

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