Νοέμβριος 14, 2022

Dive Report Army Bay, Whangaparaoa Peninsula

4 November 2022
Shore dive from boat ramp
Max depth 4m
High tide
Vis 2-3m
Just the 5mm wetsuit

Carpark empty (no boats). Left from boat ramp not long after high tide. Headed NW for 20m until found extensive coraline turf at 2m-3m. Then headed W to find some rocky ridges topped with ecklonia. I explored these to 4m looking under ledges, then headed back SW.

There were quite a few large rhodoliths in the area but most where dead (white). The coraline turf was dull coloured. I only saw eight kina. I counted seven goatfish and two small schools of sweep under the ledges. Just a few common triplefins but four species of sea slug including eight white-speckled seahares.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Νοέμβριος 14, 2022 0447 ΠΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 20 παρατηρήσεις | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Σεπτέμβριος 02, 2022

Dive Report Motuhoropapa, The Noises

2 September 2022 (second day of closed scallop season)
Anchored 30m off western side of Motuhoropapa
66 minutes
Max depth 12.8
High tide
Vis 6-8m
Hood, gloves, 3 + 5mm wetsuits, a bit cold on exit

I checked the western shoreline of Motutapu, all of Rakino Island, Motuhoropapa and islets for kekeno from my boat. None seen (dead or alive) but did photograph a skittish reef heron on Motuhoropapa.

Descended 11m to seafloor west of Motuhoropapa, which had a very dense dog cockle bed with an occasional rock outcrop and the odd horse mussel but no live scallops. The rock reef ended just 2m from my anchor. I slowly swam east towards the shore. The reef had a short wall and I explored the top which had a lot of horn shells and small Mediterranean fanworm. There was not much kelp until 8m where the ecklonia was thick and healthy looking. It may not last for long tho as an adjacent gully was packed full of kina. I explored the crevices of the gully and was very pleased to find two packhorse rock lobster moults. The bigger one must have been reasonably fresh as a large glass shrimp was cleaning it. No live animals were found but I was very pleased to see evidence there is still the odd kōura left around the Noises (which I had suspected but not seen).

This area may have been left alone a bit as I also saw eight haliotis iris. I didn't find any live green-lipped mussels. The grey massive sponges / Stelletta conulosa I found were in very poor condition, I expect they were severely impacted by last summers marine heatwave. I saw more of the big grey cup sponges / Geodia regina (than grey massive sponges) which looked fine.

Spotty and juvenile sweep were the main fish other than triplefins which were quite diverse. I think I saw a young Sandager's wrasse, one red moki, one crested blenny and a few hiwihiwi.

I turned at 3m and headed west back past my anchor to explore the deeper area a bit before I ascended the anchor line. When I got out there were two boats, one jet ski and a charter fisher nearby. One of the boats turned out to be Fisheries NZ officers who were waiting for me to come up came to check I wasn't taking scallops as the wider fishery has collapsed. I thanked them for their efforts.

The current was weird because my boat stayed pointing towards the island even tho the tide should have changed while I was there.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Σεπτέμβριος 02, 2022 1156 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 31 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Αύγουστος 02, 2022

Dive Report: Motutapu / Administration Bay

2 August 2022
The W/E finger pointing towards Sandy Bay (36.745771, 174.900405)
High tide
Vis 4m
No current
Exit 50bar
12m max depth
Hood, gloves, 3 + 5mm wetsuits, a bit cold on exit

I wanted to explore this spot because its in the middle of a proposed High Protection Area. I also heard that some of the people who run the nearby Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp ask fishers to stay away so the children can swim with fish.

I descended down my anchor rope to 11m. Swum SW 50m to the base of some large rocks. Seafloor was rocks and shell hash. Lots of encrusting species on the rocks, Ecklonia was sparse and small from 12-5m but thick and canopy forming in the shallows <6m. Kina large and spread out. Fanworm abundant.

I saw >10 triplefins, 3 goatfish and one spotty. I dont know why so few fish, I turned my lights off for 10 minutes to see if that was scaring them away but it made no difference.

Swam back to boat and pleasingly drifted into my anchor rope doing my safety stop :D

Αναρτήθηκε στις Αύγουστος 02, 2022 0540 ΠΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 21 παρατηρήσεις | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούνιος 24, 2022

Dive Report: Motutapu

23 June 2022
Just north of Otahuhu Point (-36.779397, 174.931207)
2hrs before high tide
Vis 3m
Not much current
No strobe (failed)
Exit 50bar with numb fingers
9.5m max depth

Descended to 6m, swum east to a depth of 9.5m then returned to explore the shallows to 4m. There was thick canopy forming kelp growing on rocks at 4m (mostly Ecklonia radiata). This quickly transitioned to turf and kina barrens by 6m with abundant Mediterranean fanworm and grey massive sponges. At this depth the reef was covered in a fine layer of silt. The rocks got smaller turning to rubble with patches of kelp. Most of the dive was over shell hash with the odd bit of rubble which had abundant large kina. I was impressed with the diversity of sponges, I paid attention to the grey massive sponges which seem to have been impacted by the recent marine heatwave . The eleven-arm sea stars were abundant on the shell hash. I only found one live scallop (juvenile).

Fish seen, school of parore in the shallows, some triplefin and spotty and just one goatfish.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Ιούνιος 24, 2022 1000 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 30 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάιος 08, 2022

Dive report: Te Arai

Shore dive from surf beach at high tide. Wave height 1-1.5m. Vis 6-8m.

I had a chat to a local surfer before I entered the water who was worried about me in the waves with so much gear. I only had the GoPro with me. I entered in the rip and headed NE to rocks 400m offshore. Stayed on the sandy bottom, only lost visibility briefly at the break, then it cleared up.

Some barren rocks on the way out with clusters of Olive shells but no fish or kelp. I used a lot of air on the way out so only had 10 minutes or so on the bigger rocks (I wanted to save plenty of air for my return under the surf). I explored the reef at about 8-10m deep. The rocks had a diverse assembly of sponges and patches of ecklonia.

Fish seen (one of everything!) 1 John Dory, 1 Leather jacket, 1 Eagle ray, 1 Red moki, Several common triplefin and one unidentified triplefin, 1 Juvenile demoiselle, 1 Conger eel, 2 Spotty, 1 Parore, c 20 Goatfish, 3 juvenile Snapper, and one Sprat with unusual dark vertical stripes on the shore. Also accidentally dug up two Tuatua while holding my position on the seafloor going back through the surf.

The current took me NW during my safety stop. Surface swim for 10 mins then used 20 bar swimming from the break to the shore (no-problem). Only 4 surfers in the water. Exit 50 bar.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Μάιος 08, 2022 0340 ΠΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 15 παρατηρήσεις | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 28, 2022

Dive reports: Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve

26 April 2022
From kayak launched at Hahei Beach
Small workups observed on the way with many little penguins, white-fronted terns and fluttering shearwater
Wind 3knots, surface clam, fish visible
Dive 70mins at 6m over a rocky reef
Visibility 6-8m

I was surrounded by snapper almost immediately, they were very excited and I was impressed with the size and number of them. They followed me the entire dive making it hard for me to photograph anything else. Several bit the end of my camera lens and one had a go at my flash cable until I tied it up. I was pleased to see several crayfish including a juvenile. The crevices were not bristling but there were many many more than at the Leigh Marine Reserve. I saw many species that I was not able to photograph including Banded wrase, Blue cod, Blue-eyed triple fin, Common triplefin, Piper, Sandager's wrasse, Spotty, Parore, Silver drummer, Leatherjacket and Blue maomao.

My favourite moment in the dive was when I swum under a ledge where a large crayfish was sitting on old kina shells like they were the skulls of its enemies. I was a little intimidated when it advanced towards me but it was just curious and rubbed its antenna over my camera.

27 April 2022
From kayak launched at Hahei Beach
No workups but did see small fish (6cm) leaping out of water chased by a little penguin
Wind 7 knots, surface choppy
I told off a fisherman on the way in (one bay over) who was feeding the fish to show his kids. (Feeding fish in a marine reserve constitutes a disturbance of the marine life and is therefore an offence under the Marine Reserves Act).
Dive 70mins at 6m over boulders
Visibility 6-8m

Here the Snapper were much more clam and chilled out. Maybe the really hungry ones had left the area to see what the fisherman was throwing in the water. This gave me space to photograph all the other fish which were diverse and abundant.

UPDATE: This little wrasse which I could not ID turned out to be a new record for New Zealand.

I was really impressed with this marine reserve, there was so much more life than the smaller marine reserve at Leigh. I will be back to explore it further.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Απρίλιος 28, 2022 0701 ΠΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 26 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 14, 2022

Dive report: Green-lipped Mussel Bed Thumb Point, Waiheke Island

The Sea Change Seasketch maps have a huge green-lipped mussel / kutāi bed west of Thumb Point, Waiheke Island. I am particularly interested in this species as I am helping restore it in the Hauraki Gulf.

I dropped down on the eastern (shallow) side of the bed at 8m depth. Although it was low tide the visibility was great at more than 6m. I found a few old dead kutāi shells around the base of some boulders. I then swum west until I reached turn pressure reaching just over 15m depth. The seafloor was shell hash with dog cockle shell dominant. I saw the odd live dog cockle and scallop (it was great to see more juvenile scallops on the other side of thumb point but I did not have my camera for that dive) and one or two horse mussels. There were one or two kutāi shells in the hash but I didn't see any live kutāi the whole dive. As it was low tide I scanned the intertidal rocks for mussels but could see none. There was good kelp coverage with only a few patches of kina barren. Good numbers of sweep, red moki and goatfish on the reef.

Conversely I was very disappointed with the kelp coverage and pleased to see alive kutāi on nearby Horuhoru / Gannet Rock. I circled the island in my boat and had a quick snorkel.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Μάρτιος 14, 2022 0844 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 22 παρατηρήσεις | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Φεβρουάριος 23, 2022

Dive report: Rhodolith Bed SW Pakatoa Island

The Sea Change Seasketch maps have a huge rhodolith bed south west of Pakatoa Island. I dropped down in the middle of it hoping to see a bright pink seafloor with incredible structure and diversity (see this journal post). I was very disappointed to find thick mud with Mediterranean fanworm the dominant epifauna.

I dug three holes 8-10cm deep and found lots of large shells mostly green-lipped mussels. There were no signs of shell hash or rhodoliths. If there was a rhodolith bed at this location it hasn't been here for decades. I also found many Southern Sand Star whose outlines were clearly visible (where they had disturbed the algae when digging into the mud to hide). I wonder what visual predator they are hiding from during the day. I can't imagine a Charonia lampas being able to navigate the soft mud.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Φεβρουάριος 23, 2022 0834 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 10 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιανουάριος 22, 2022

Dive report: Rhodolith Bed Maria Island

South side of Maria Island
High tide 11:30am
Depth 8m
Vis 5m, very windy recently

I have been hearing about how awesome rhodolith beds are for years but never seen one. I know they are an important and habitat with nursery / recruitment benefits and has been in decline for decades in the Hauraki Gulf. I find a lot of individual rhodoliths but never more than five in a square meter. It was very exciting to bump into this bed at the Noises. I did not measure it but it was bigger than 10x4m. I imagine it is protected from dredges by the adjacent rocky reef.

I was blown away by the complexity of it, the bed dramatically increases the complexity and surface area of the seafloor. The bed was associated with other dead shell and gravel. I took a lot of photos of it and was pleased to see juvenile tipa / scallops in the bed along with a lot of other life. I was worried about the algae / biofilm smothering the photosynthesising ability of the rhodoliths but they might be quite resilient to seasonal growths.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Ιανουάριος 22, 2022 1108 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 5 παρατηρήσεις | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιανουάριος 10, 2022

Dive report: Te Matuku Marine Reserve

Just inside the bay
10 Jan, 2022, 10am
High Tide 1:40 pm

Circled around a bit
Current low
Vis 2m surface, 1m bottom. It was not good enough to use my fancy camera or spend much time.
Depth 5m
Substrate: Soft mud, heaps of crab/shrimp holes
I put my hand in the mud seven times. Shell at 10cm deep every time. Four large clam shells, 2 scallop shells and one predatory snail. Some smaller shell.

Αναρτήθηκε στις Ιανουάριος 10, 2022 0855 ΜΜ από shaun-lee shaun-lee | 5 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο