Αύγουστος 13, 2023

Dive report: Schooner Bay

Aug 12, 2023
One hour after high tide
Visibility around 8m
Sunny, no wind, waves or current
Freediving 8m max, mostly 3-5m
One hour swim

I walked the bay at low tide then entered the water when the sun came out. I swam straight out from the end of the road (SW) then headed east towards the rocks. I explored the intersection between the rock and sand substrate for 200-300 meters then headed towards the shore and looped back in shallower water.

Exotic Calupera covered most rocks but was in the early stages and was not thick like in Okupu Bay where it has been established longer. I didn't see any bare patches of rocks here where matts of exotic Calupera have been dislodged creating large holes in the biogenic blanket. I also did not see any Unwanted Organisms in either bay (Other than exotic Calupera). There were still many rocks with no exotic Calupera, these were covered in diverse native algae, mostly Coraline turf. Exotic Calupera was expanding into the kina barrens and smothering the shorter native algae, however most rocks were covered in Ecklonia and the tall brown kelps looked unaffected by exotic Calupera (once at full size). Exotic Calupera was under the Ecklonia canopy but limited to rocks, it was not really encroaching onto the sand here.

A few sponges were being smothered by the exotic Calupera but the main habitat being smothered was Coraline turf.

The water was full of salps, mostly broken up but a few chains. Fish seen: Schools of spotty. A few parore, small red moki, banded wrase, violet sweep and triplefins. Just one young sand daggers wrasse, a leather jacket and a small snapper.

Posted on Αύγουστος 13, 2023 0622 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 24 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούλιος 12, 2023

Dive report: Million Bay

Jul 11, 2023
High tide 2:00pm
10-15 knots but westerly and very calm
4.6 m
Transect at 120° looking for Caulerpa
Vis 3-4 m

Two NNZD and a pair of VOC on Baddleys Beach as I got in the water. I walked through the water for about 100 meters then snorkelled further out into the bay. I nearly made it to the mouth of the bay (about 1km) before doing a surface swim back with 70 bar.

I was surprised by the great vis and healthy looking cockle bed. The seagrass condition was poor and I didn't see any fish larger than my fingers other than a snake eel whose hole was very shallow (2.1 m). It was sandy to about 3 m which is well out into the bay, which was very shallow. The crimson jellies seemed abundant for this time of year.

Posted on Ιούλιος 12, 2023 0121 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 11 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Ιούνιος 04, 2023

Dive Report, Zig Zag Reef, Long Bay

4 June 2023
High tide 7:30am
Calm, overcast
10 or so knots the day before but westerly, 4-5 knots during dive also westerly
With @jordi_nz
57 minutes

Arrived at the park (in the dark) when the gates opened at 6am. It took me an hour to get my gear on / ready with lots of trips to the beach. We left the beach with the sun just rising, waves were only 30cm or so. Light breeze. I led on kayak with Garmin InReach for co-ordinates. Jordi followed with BCD and tank on his paddle board!

We anchored 20m east of the reef and it took us 15 minutes to find the balls. Jordi saw them first as we were searching in a spiral from where we thought they were. Visibility was 3-4m with lots of strands of phytoplankton mucus in the water. While looking I saw many snapper and a school of large jack mackerel, neither of which liked having my bright lights pointed at them.

The reef looked similar to January (good given the storms) but much more cinematic in the low light. I saw spotty, sweep, juvenile goatfish and juvenile snapper but the fish were all wary of me. The only one that stayed still for a photo was the crested blenny. The most interesting find for me was the tubular hydroids (I think) which I haven't seen before. I was disappointed with the amount of silt on the sponges but impressed with how clean the ascidians (Synoicum kuranui) we in comparison. The tiny amount of swell was still enough to make manual focus difficult, I had another go at the many crimson jellyfish but they elude me.

Two groups of people wanted to talk to us back on the beach, they asked us what we were catching and we had to explain that its a marine reserve. This is not the first time I have been asked that on this beach, I'm surprised by the lack of awareness.

Posted on Ιούνιος 04, 2023 0434 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 10 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάιος 27, 2023

Dive Report, West Te Haruhi Bay

28 May
Waves 0.3
High Tide 1pm
No current
Wind from the north but this bay was sheltered
Vis 3-4m
90 minutes
Max depth 3m
Two wetsuits, hood, gloves, not cold, moving slow

Shallow dive with @Jordi_NZ to explore the reef west of Te Haruhi Bay in Shakespear Regional Park. We decided on the Western reef because it was closer and the Eastern reef had fishers on and off the rocks. We put all our gear on in the carpark and walked 150m to the waters edge (this was hard work but we could be gone a bit further without a break) entering the water around 12:15 (slack tide).

We swam over large patches of Neptunes necklace and Seagrass the later were sometimes raised up to 25cm above the seafloor. The raised edges of rock slowly grew in height as we swam SSE out of the bay. With the increase in size of these edges came more habitat complexity starting with denser and more diverse coralline algae, other species of brown kelp and one Caulerpa geminata.

I found the odd kina hiding under ledges. Mediterranean Fanworm, Eleven-armed and cushion sea stars were abundant. Several large Actiniid Sea Anemones were a treat to see. Closer to 3m I saw a few Aaptos sponges, for some reason a few of them were covered in gunk and I cleaned them off. We saw many nudibranch, the mostly lemon, some black and the odd gem. Jordi was pleased to find a very large White-speckled Seahare. Common triplefin were abundant and I saw the odd spotty. A large school of parore on the point added a lot of energy to the dive. I was also pleased to see a single green-lipped mussel on the way back.

Jordi retrieved just one breakaway sinker and I saw no fishing rubbish.

Posted on Μάιος 27, 2023 0835 ΜΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 19 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάιος 18, 2023

Dive Report, Goat Island, Dawn

18 May
Waves 0.5
High Tide 6am
Minor current
No wind (yet)
Vis 5-6m
85 minutes
Max depth 6m
Two wetsuits, hood, no gloves, a little cold at end, moving slow
Sunrise 7:14 am

I finally got around to doing a night dive. I decided before dawn was nice and safe incase anything went wrong. Underwater videographer Matt Silcock who has done some night diving came along and took the lead.

All my lights we mounted on my camera which made getting in the water and checking gauges a little tricky. I need an additional small torch. I noticed a little red on the horizon as we entered around 6:30am.

Larger snapper hung back well away from us as we headed out over the sand flats. Juvenile snapper were very approachable. Goatfish (who are not visual predators) were busy feeding and more approachable than during the day. I saw one bigeye in the open and some very fast moving trevally. Hiwihiwi also seemed more approachable. Unfortunately the two crayfish we saw were not in the open, they also had bigeye co-residents. A marble fish made a brief appearance but it was flighty. Large silver drummer also stayed well back like the usually do during the day.

It was easier to see each other than during the day and very cool watching the light slowly come up from underwater. I saw an interesting looking whelk dash for cover. When the sun had risen red moki appeared and the big snapper came closer. Two snapper got in a fight and their mouths locked together for a few seconds.

I watched a pied shag bring its partner sticks for the nest as I ate breakfast. Three sticks were bought in less than 15 minutes, one had foliage.

Posted on Μάιος 18, 2023 0406 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 9 παρατηρήσεις | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 27, 2023

Dive Report, Phoenix Reef, Tāwharanui Regional park

27th April
Waves 0.5
High Tide 12:45pm
No current
No waves at depth
Had been windy but no wind today
Vis 4-5m
60 minutes
Max depth 12m
Two wetsuits, no hood, no gloves, not cold

I wanted to explore the interesting sand habitat I had seen further east in Anchor Bay but without going to the effort of getting my kayak in the water. I entered at high tide and went straight out over the reef as fast as I could but it was very difficult as there was so much going on with large mixed schools of fish following me over the reef. I got past the last rocky reef at just over 10m and must have covered at least 100m of sand. The sand was not that interesting, there was no algae film on the seafloor and it did not get very deep, max 12m. No noticeable mud content in the sand, just broken shell, the feather duster worms were abundant and fun to swim over. I used up nearly all my air on the safety stop and had to do a 15 min surface swim to shore.

Posted on Απρίλιος 27, 2023 0817 ΜΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 16 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Απρίλιος 13, 2023

Dive Report Tabletop Rock, Goat Island

13th April
Waves 0.5-1m
High Tide 12:45pm
No current
No waves at depth
Rain before and during the dive
Vis 4m or so
64 minutes
Max depth 19.4 m

Launched kayak on beach, paddled around the point for about 1km (750 paddle strokes). I was hoping to see spiny rock lobster in the open / moulting. The rock was submerged but had waves breaking on it. I anchored NW of Tabletop Rock to explore the N side, however I should have checked the southern (landward side of the rock).

I surface swam to the rock which was thick with kelp. Two butterfish and several spotty dashed in and out of the kelp while a massive school of silver drummer circled me. I descended the rock to 5m then began heading east around the base which was not clearly defined. I spent a bit too much air looking around and being impressed with a the fish life: Snapper (all sizes), large schools of violet sweep, many goatfish, common, spectacled, variable, blue eyed and Oblique-swimming Triplefins, a few parore, leatherjacket, jack mackerel, hiwi hiwi and NZ demoiselles, two sandagers wrasse and probably other fish, it was hard to keep track of them all. I also spooked an eagleray. I counted eight crays in crevices as I worked my way down to 10m. Then I went North over the gravel to explore the open area.

The gravels were a really interesting habitat, I found one occupied octopus hole and some evidence of digging. I would like to spend more time on gravel to get a better feel for it. Sometimes in was contoured by waves and in other places it was very flat. There were still many rocky reefs around. The juvenile blue cod was a nice find but would not stay still for a photo and kept its distance from me. As I neared 20 meters I found some really lovely sponge assemblages. I would have liked to spend more time here but was past 50 bar. I seemed to drift west a fair distance during my safety stop and had to do a seven minute surface swim back to the kayak.

Posted on Απρίλιος 13, 2023 0853 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 18 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 27, 2023

Dive Report Tāwaharanui

26 March 2023
Waves 0.5-1m
High Tide 12:30pm
No current
No waves at depth
Vis 6m or so

I didn't get the Kayak into the water until nearly 12pm (many trips carrying stuff from carpark)
Paddled to the eastern arm of Anchor Bay, I could see the bottom to about 8m. Found a spot I thought was safe to anchor, tried to get off the reef but my anchor was in the Ecklonia at 10m.

I descended the anchor line to 10m to find a stunning Ecklonia forest in great condition. No fish on the way down for some reason, but 20 seconds later I saw a small snapper, then a leather jacket, and I was surrounded by jack mackerel (a large school). Medium sized trevally hang back in the distance while a kingfish cruised by. Vis was about 6m.

I looked around the reef a bit, heading North (deeper). I check three crevices and only found one crayfish. I was very pleased to find four Yellow-and-black triplefins in one spot. On the reef I saw many goatfish, a few common triplefins, one masked triplefin, a few variable triplefins, a large school of small juvenile snapper, a school of sweep, a large school of larger juvenile snapper, and a handful of red moki and spotty. I did not see any 'landable' snapper here. By far the most numerous fish were the jack mackerel which came in at least three size classes / schools. It was enjoyable to watch the schools collide in front of me. Still no mediterranean fanworm found.

I followed a valley which turned to rubble and opened up into something between shell hash and sand at around 16m. To warm up I powered out over it, heading North. There were cool mounds in the shell, I'd love to know what made them. I then carried on North for another 30m where there was a dramatic switch to mud / sand. Both substrates were covered in fine algae / biofilm which had an interesting pattern. I enjoyed watching feather duster worms retract into the sediment as I swam by, I stuffed up a photo of a snake eel which I accidentally scared back into it's hole and did not have time to wait for it to come back out.

Posted on Μάρτιος 27, 2023 0845 ΜΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 33 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 25, 2023

Dive report Moturua Island Tubeworms

Second dive at this spot, first report here https://blog.shaunlee.co.nz/tubeworms/

25 March 2023
1hr before High Tide
Some current
Vis 1.5m
Depth 29.4m

Shane Kelly and I descended closer to the mussel farm this time, near an anchor block. We then headed in the direction of the previous dive at this location. Vis was great on the surface but dropped fast to around 1-1.5 m. Conditions were great, no wind or chop, not much rain recently, perhaps the very high / low tides may have been a factor as well as the summer storms. We only had about 20 minutes on the bottom. We found multiple mounds, some quite large but not as big or dense as the ones we found on the first dive. I was not able to find any obvious Scarlet tubeworms (Galeolaria hystrix), but I did see other tubeworm species. I was particularly pleased to find multiple clumps of bryozoans which I did not find last time. There were a few ascidians I did not recognise.

Posted on Μάρτιος 25, 2023 0914 ΜΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 12 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 15, 2023

Dive report Okahu Bay: MS1

15 March 2023
2pm High tide

12:00 pm parked at Kelly Tarltons
Navigated nine fishers along wharf, mostly catching piper but one guy landed a small kingfish. Small mussels growing on steps (new).
12:30 pm Surface swim to breakwater (navigating fishing lines) then along a bit. 20-30 Tara roosting on breakwater. <10 Tara feeding in the bay near, floats (set net?) out from KT's

More wind than predicted, vis at surface not great, I could not see then end of my fins. Descended at breakwater to 5.5m. Nearly 1m vis. Some live oysters on seafloor. A few large dead kūtai shells, not too old, quite thin. Made my way across the mud and kept seeing small fish shoot into holes. I assume they are invasive Bridled Goby. I dont remember seeing them in this bay so tried to photograph them but it's very difficult. My big video light helped them stand out which may be why they seemed new.

Mussel bed located pretty fast. I took a few photos and checked the bed for anything interesting. It looked very similar to when I last dived it in December, there may well have been more dead shell but it did not look recent (casualties of this summers extreme weather events). If any clumps of mussel had been moved by storm surges they seem to have righted themselves. I tried my luck with laying a few random quadrants and using the GoPro to document them.

While documenting some of the colonial epifauna but began to get depressed by all the eleven-arm sea stars predating the kūtai. The mean size was about the size of my hand (not too big) but there were bigger and smaller ones. I estimated later that there was one every two square meters but I think if I had looked more carefully for smaller ones in a transect I would have found more. Decided to quit early.

Swam NE for 15 minutes, followed the breakwater for a bit and tried to photograph the fish using the crab holes. Dive computer says I was under for 41 minutes. Max depth 6m.

Surface swim back on the out-going tide. Navigated the fishing lines back to the wharf.

Posted on Μάρτιος 15, 2023 0245 ΠΜ by shaun-lee shaun-lee | 12 παρατηρήσεις | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο