Sydney is suitable for diving all year round. Shore diving is an economical and popular way to dive here.
When it comes to diving in Australia, the first thing many people think of is the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, Australia is surrounded by the sea and there are many places where you can dive, and Sydney is one of them. Sydney is suitable for diving throughout the year. The visibility is generally 6-12 meters, occasionally exceeding 15 meters. The water temperature is about 22 degrees in summer and 16 degrees in winter. Shore diving is an economical and popular way of diving here.
The most anticipated underwater creatures are Ye Hailong and Caohailong. These two kinds of sea dragons are mainly distributed in Australia, and both are good at camouflage, and they are difficult to find in seaweed clusters. The distribution of Caohailong is wider than that of Yehailong, and it is relatively more common; it is easy to distinguish the two from the appearance. Yehailong is golden, and Caohailong is colorful.
And my dive site this time is on Bald Island in Sydney.
Dok Island and Botany Bay
Bald Island is also translated as “Naked Island.” Captain James Cook, the first European to land on the east coast of Sydney, discovered this area and recorded it as “a small bare island” in the logbook.
Bald Island and La Peruz Peninsula, located on the northern cape of Botany Bay, are connected by a wooden bridge. This wooden bridge was built in 1887. Before that, the only means of transportation to and from Tudao were ziplines or barges.
On April 29, 1770, Captain James Cook’s “Endeavour” landed in Quesnel, located on the South Point of Botany Bay. When they arrived, they met two Sydney aborigines. The aborigines threw spears at them and tried to get them away. Cook shot them and drove them away.
On the second day of the landing, Cook buried the “Endeavour” crew member Forbe Sutherland here, who died of tuberculosis during the voyage. Sutherland was the first European to be buried in Australia. Cook named the headland at the eastern end of Quesnel as “Sutherland Point” in memory of the seaman. The Royal Australian Historical Society erected a memorial for him near the landing site of the Endeavour in 1931.
Botany Bay can be regarded as the starting point for the birth of modern Australia.
“Endeavour” spent 8 days in Botany Bay. As many stingrays were seen in the shallow waters, Cook initially named the site “Stingray Fishing Port”. Onboard naturalist Daniel Solander and botanist Joseph Banks collected a large number of plant specimens here. In recognition of their discoveries, Cook subsequently renamed the site “Botanists Bay” and finally changed it to As “Botany Bay”.
Cook’s landing marked the British interest in this southern continent (and eventually colonized it).
Bald Island and La Peruz Peninsula, located on the northern cape of Botany Bay, are connected by a wooden bridge
On January 18, 1788, the First Fleet led by Governor Arthur Philip landed in Botany Bay, preparing to use this place as a prisoner’s exile. Because of the lack of fresh water in Botany Bay and it was not suitable for living, they then sailed to Jackson Bay, which is now the location of Sydney Harbour. They landed on January 26, which became Australia’s National Day (also called a “day of mourning” by many aborigines), and Philip later became the first governor of New South Wales.
On January 24 of the same year, Sir Jean-François Gallup Laperuz, who was assigned to Louis XVI, France, and his expedition also came to Botany Bay. They clashed with the local indigenous people in Samoa and many people died.
The French stayed here for 6 weeks, exchanged some supplies with Philip’s First Fleet, and established fences and vegetable gardens in this area. They set sail away from Botany Bay in March 1788 and later disappeared. Decades later, someone found the wreck of their ship in the Santa Cruz Islands in southern Vanuatu.
Later, in memory of him, this area was named “La Peruz Peninsula”.
Botany Bay can be regarded as the starting point of the birth of modern Australia, but compared to the enthusiasm of tracing history, I am more curious about its diving environment: Will it still be the same as it was more than two hundred years ago, with so many stingrays?
The underwater world under the bald island
For safety reasons, each dive must follow the “dive buddy system”-two or more people as a group, help each other wear clothes and check equipment before going into the water.
After entering the water, inflate the buoyancy control vest and let yourself float completely on the water. When ready, everyone gestured “OK” to the surrounding partners and started to dive. I pressed the deflation button of the buoyancy control vest, and balanced the ear pressure while sinking.
The bottom of the water is covered with dense yellow-green seaweed. It is my first time to come to the temperate underwater world. I am excited and full of expectations.
As the depth increased, I slowly saw some fish and mollusks. After swimming for a while, an exciting moment came: the diving guide pointed to a clump of seaweed and gestured to us. I kicked my flippers and slowly approached the target he was pointing at, and found a violin ray hidden in the seaweed.
It seemed to be aware of our arrival and became interested in us. It moved out slowly, and seaweed came out of its entire head. I took a deep breath, and then slowly exhaled, lowering myself to a height where I could look at it. The wrinkles on its pale yellow body are clearly visible, and they are within reach of me. We just looked at each other for a few seconds. I wanted to interact with it a little more, but it seemed to lose curiosity about me, and turned around and dived into the seaweed bushes to hide.
During diving, the body will absorb more nitrogen under the action of water pressure than in the air.
I learned later that the violin ray is a relatively docile marine animal, also called the “banjo fish”. Because it looks a bit like a banjo. There are several types of violin rays in Australia, the more common ones are the eastern violin rays and the southern violin rays. The key to distinguish the two is the pattern behind the eyes. The pattern of the eastern violin rays is a triangle, while the southern violin rays are three vertical parallel lines. According to this criterion, we can see that the eastern violin rays we have just seen are.
After the first dive, we returned to the La Peruz Peninsula on the other side of the bridge. It was quite cold after tens of minutes diving in 20 degrees sea water. The 3mm wetsuit I wore was barely warm in terms of warmth. Other people in the same group wore 5mm or 6mm wetsuits. .
Everyone gathers to bask in the sun, also to allow more time for the body to expel the nitrogen absorbed during diving. During diving, the body will absorb more nitrogen under the action of water pressure than in the air. Since nitrogen gas cannot be absorbed by the human body, if the nitrogen gas cannot be discharged in time, they will form bubbles in the body and cause harm to the body. Therefore, leave enough rest time on the surface between dives to expel the excess nitrogen from the body.
After resting for more than an hour, we started the second dive, but unfortunately we did not find any sea dragons this time. But not for nothing, we saw a red Indian fish. It was motionless at the time. If there was no reminder from the diving guide, I might have missed it because it was a red leaf. We later saw the mosaic starfish, which had two colors stitched together on its body, and it looked hairy, like wearing a one-piece sweater.
After this diving trip, I still have more thoughts. The endless mystery and magnificence of the underwater world makes me want to explore again and again.