Mother nature often gives scuba divers some amazing experiences in the waters around Sydney. Over the past month on a number of the divers on our guided shore dives and the students on a number of our dive courses have experienced dolphins diving with them. The dolphins have been encountered on a number of days both at Oak Park and The Steps.
Bottlenose dolphins are well known as the intelligent and charismatic stars of many aquarium shows. Their curved mouths give the appearance of a friendly, permanent smile, and they can be trained to perform complex tricks.
These dolphins are sleek swimmers can reach speeds of over 30 kilometers an hour so as divers they either come to the divers or the divers don’t get to see them. In the case of the Oak Park sightings the dolphins came to the divers over 3 consecutive days.
Bottlenose dolphins normally travel in social pods and communicate with each other by a complex system of squeaks and whistles. As divers we often see pods of dolphins as we are entering or exiting the water at sites such as Oak Park or Captain Cooks Park at Kurnell.
Bottlenose dolphins track their prey through the expert use of echolocation. They can make up to 1,000 clicking noises per second. These sounds travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back to their dolphin senders, revealing the location, size, and shape of their target.
When dolphins are feeding, that target is often a bottom-dwelling fish, though they also eat shrimp and squid. These clever animals are also sometimes spotted following fishing boats in hopes of dining on leftovers.
For divers who have witnessed wild dolphins, there is often no comparison to any other ocean experience. For those who have yet to experience it, it certainly is an encounter to look forward to. So plan to go for a dive soon.
Many people hear the term Technical Diving, and immediately think of heavy, cumbersome equipment and additional risk whilst scuba diving. This perception needs to change….
Traditionally, technical scuba diving has meant going beyond recreational scuba diving limits, and included one or more of the following:
- Diving deeper than 40 metres
- Required stage decompression
- Diving in an overhead environment beyond 40 linear metres of the surface
- Accelerated decompression and/or the use of variable gas mixtures during the dive
- Use of extensive equipment and technologies
Yes, it is true, many people learn Technical Diving to challenge themselves, and explore places that no one else has ever seen. There is obviously excitement and adventure that goes with this!
But for many, learning Technical Diving means they are better prepared as a diver, should something on their recreational dive not go as planned.
I have seen divers accidentally go into decompression (past the No Decompression Limit on their computer) on 20 – 30m dives where they have been distracted by their surroundings. I have also seen divers go into decompression on dives where something happened underwater that caused these divers to stay longer at depth than they were supposed to. I have almost done this myself in only 20m of water!
On both of these occasions, the divers were not aware of what to do when this happened. They had only ever thought of technical divers as those people who dived extremely deep with lots of cumbersome equipment. If they had learnt the basics of technical diving, they would have been prepared to handle these situations when they occurred.
Many Technical Diving courses don’t allow you to learn just the basics of technical diving, they require you to sign up to push yourself deep and with lots of equipment. And then we have the PADI TecRec program…..
The PADI TecRec Difference
PADI TecRec courses are the quality benchmarks in the tec diving world due to their rigorous, yet logical, training sequence and the PADI educational materials that support them. TecRec courses are instructionally valid and have a seamless course flow that takes you from a new tec diver to one qualified to dive to the outer reaches of sport diving if you wish to. Each level introduces you to new gear and procedures to extend your dive limits, but does not require you to take the next level if you do not wish to.
The first PADI TecRec level (Tec 40) does not take you any deeper than recreational dive limits and does not require you to wear cumbersome equipment. It does however, teach you how to manage limited decompression for planned decompression schedules. So although you may not think yourself a Technical diver, and would not push yourself to the limits of where many Technical divers go, this additional training and the Tec 40 level is invaluable to any recreational diver, and will hold you in good stead should dives not go quite to plan.
One of the great things I love about Truk Lagoon is the fact that many of the wrecks lie in very shallow water (less than 30m deep). These wrecks are covered in beautiful hard and soft corals, are abundant with fish life, and best of all, you get to spend more time on them than you do on the slightly deeper wrecks. I have dived Truk Lagoon on 2 separate occasions and on both trips I been able to dive different wrecks. Truk Lagoon has over 60 wrecks, many of these only recently discovered. They range from cargo and transport ships, destroyers, bombers, zero fighters, battle tanks, and submarines – many shallower than 40m and many with a large assortment of World War II Armament. Some of these took part in the attack on the Pearl Harbor and Midway Island operation.
The majority of the wrecks found in Truk Lagoon lie on the bottom as a result of Operation Hailstone on Feb 16th 1944. This event occurred as a result of the earlier Japanese invasion on Pearl Harbor. So not only are you seeing amazing wrecks whilst underwater, you are seeing a part of World War II history!
This wreck diving location would have to be one of, if not the best, wreck diving locations in the world. The water is warm, the visibility is good and due to the wrecks all resting in a lagoon, there is no current (well none that I have ever experienced anyway).
With nitrox readily available on site, divers can take full advantage of the extended bottom times that this provides. Perfect for getting the extra 10 – 20 minutes that you definitely want on these beautiful shallower wrecks.
If you have not experienced this fantastic wreck diving mecca yet, then you need to. It should be on every divers bucket list. Next year will be my 3rd visit and I am just as excited to be going back as I was the 1st time!
Vanuatua Christmas Dive Trip
The Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary is situated in Mele Bay, a 20 minute ferry ride from Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Surrounded by clear turquoise waters and coral reefs, it is one of the few places where you can hand feed hundreds of "tame" brilliantly coloured fish in a safe protected area. This is an experience you wont forget!
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