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Humpback Whales on the Gold Coast

Perennially between the months of April and November, the east coast of Australia including our beautiful Gold Coast froths with tail lobbing and breaching humpback whales that migrate from the feeding grounds in the southern ocean to the warmer waters of tropical Australia where they breed and calf. This annual migration can see individual whales covering more than 6000 miles, passing the Eastern Australian towns on the New South Wales and Queensland coasts such as Sydney, Narooma, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.

It is believed that the majority of humpback whales migrate north between June and August, and return to their feeding grounds in the south during the later months of September to November. Juvenile males are the first individuals to make their migrations, followed by the females and calves. It is assumed, while not known, that breeding takes place in the middle stages of the migrations, before they reach the tropics. The lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef are thought to be an area where the humpback whales breed and birth, yet there is a lack of evidence to determine that fact for sure.

Recent studies have estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 humpback individuals are part of the entire east coast migratory population, and that in turn populations are growing by 10-11% every year. It is understood through tireless research that numbers were back to what they were before the mass hunting of whales in the Australian east coast, a barbaric act that ended in 1963. It was calculated that during the height of the whaling years one whaling station near Tangalooma took 600 whales in a single year.

While soaring numbers of humpback whales is a promising sign for the relationship between man and leviathan, there are potential issues related to the boom. Primarily, is there enough krill and food sources throughout the southern oceans to support the whales during the migration, and furthermore with an increased population of humans, the risk of ship collision and shark net entanglement is another growing risk to the whales.

Fortunately the Australian government ‘department of environment and energy’ have passed a myriad of laws for vessels when approaching whale species. For example crafts must stay at least 100 metres away from whale, and never touch or feed them at any time. Furthermore injury and stranding hotlines have been established across much of eastern Australia to focus on the protection of these creatures.

Whale watching companies from the east coast, have seen a boom in industry over the last decade, with a myriad of people of all ages wishing to see the whales that frequent their coast. The Gold Coast is a perennial favourite for whale lovers, and when the whale season is open, there is nowhere better to encounter the majestic nature of the humpback as they move north to their breeding grounds.

The Gold Coast is also home a world class research group Humpback and High-rises, led by Dr. Olaf Meynecke.

If you would like to get involved and find out more about these majestic animals, you can join one of our Gold Coast Whale Watching and Marine Research Adventures ex Runaway Bay Marina or sign up for one of Dr. Olaf’s 3 day research and rescue expeditions.

Essential equipment to own as a diver

Starting your diving career, whether it is recreationally or professionally, it is essential to either rent or buy equipment that will ensure your safety and those with whom you dive. Obviously once divers branch into their own vector of the sport equipment becomes more specific to that type of diving, whether it be free-diving, cave diving or one of the many other forms of the diving world. However this is an overview of what many consider being the most fundamental items to acquire.

SV-2 Pro Mask Metallic Yellow Black SiliconeMask
As many know a mask gives divers the ability to see underwater, therefore it is an essential item to obtain for your dive bag. A wide frame and a comfortable nose pocket are crucial when buying a mask, and for that reason it is always important to try a mask at the shop before purchase. A perennial favourite among divers is the ‘Typhoon Single Frame Mask’, a model that uses high quality silicone and tempered glass for comfort and ease of use. Furthermore the mask is extremely easy to travel with, due to its folding ability and lightweight materiel. A reasonable price range to spend on a mask would be between 50 – 150 dollars. Remember to buy anti-fog liquid!

UnknownFins
Fins allow an addition of power when moving through the water, and many divers swear by different models, here is a brief look at the differences. If divers are simply diving in calm conditions without a significant amount of effort fins can be purchased for as cheap as 50 dollars. However most dive sites experience current, or the possibility of it. Therefore it is useful to buy fins that have the ability to power through the water with either an open heel or closed heel version. Free-diving fins, while long and cumbersome at times are my personal favourites, adding a greater deal of momentum, depending on plastic or carbon fibre models, and the stiffness of the model. One can easily spend up to 500 dollars for top of the range fins.

SubZeroBCD
Purchasing a Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) can often be the most arduous of all dive purchases due to the weight and size of the jacket. Many people rent BCD’s at the dive centre to reduce weight while travelling, yet it is beneficial to have your own jacket to allow comfort and familiarity while diving. The traditional jacket is popular due to its lifting capability and overall safety, yet wings are becoming more and more common among divers. The wing is a lightweight model of buoyancy device, and for advanced divers can feel more comfortable in the water due to better trim dynamics.

A-320 DIN Adjustable With Black 2nd StageRegulator
The regulator is the item of diving equipment that is most likely to cause a problem to divers if not cared for. For that reason it is not only crucial to buy a good quality regulator, but to also care for it meticulously. It is recommended to buy a regulator with parts that fit your specific needs, for example a comfortable mouth piece, low temperature capabilities if you want to dive in cool waters and prevent free-flows, and yoke or din clamp systems depending on where you wish to dive in the world. Most people spend up to 500 dollars on regulators, but some of the top brands can charge as much as 2000 dollars.

EMC-14 WristDive Computer
Owning a dive computer is fundamental if you wish to dive recreationally, it will allow you to be more independent when you dive, and in turn to understand the limits of decompression and the depths, times and temperatures of the waters in which you dive. Dive computers most importantly reduce the risk of decompression sickness by writing complex dive tables. Many people can spend a great deal of money, some up to 1000 on computers that read a mixture of gases, have a build in compass and double up as a wristwatch when on land. However models such as the Suunto Zoop, which is a spectacular, easy to read dive computer can be as cheap as 300 dollars.

Migaloo Reef – untouched dive site discovered by Gold Coast divers 

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With an average winter temperature hovering between 16.9 and 25.4 degrees, there’s no place on the globe better equipped for scuba diving and snorkeling than the East Coast city of the Gold Coast.

http://www.australia.com/en/facts/weather/gold-coast-weather.html

The coastal mecca has a bustling underwater world as lively as that which exists on the dry land and the 57-kilometer-long coastline offers easy access to the wonders that the deep blue ocean holds.  Divers of all abilities from all over the world flock to the Gold Coast in droves to experience the diverse underwater experience that the area can offer, and there are some very good reasons for this.

As a location that isn’t affected by stinger season, the region also attracts people who would otherwise venture to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef, and other stunning sites in far north Queensland.

The pristine waters of the Gold Coast, combined with the near-perfect weather conditions the majority of the year means that on the Gold Coast, diving is a popular activity. It’s popular with residents, it’s popular with tourists to the region, and for those not adept at diving the local seas, there’s an abundance of diving companies who are passionate about experiencing the official dive sites on the Gold Coast with everyone who visits.

According to Destination Gold Coast, there are nine recognised dive sites on the Gold Coast spanning from Main Beach in the north down to Kingscliff in the south. Each dive site has its own unique array of reef and diverse marine wildlife and regardless of how often you visit those sites, it’s a guarantee that no two experiences will ever be the same.

https://www.destinationgoldcoast.com/inside-stories/posts/postid/30/where-to-dive-and-snorkel-on-the-gold-coast

But, there’s more…

With so many popular dive sites identified on the Gold Coast, imagine our surprise when – as a keen and frequent divers to the Gold Coast reefs –  we noticed a previously unrecognised potential dive site on aerial photography.

We quickly determined the GPS coordinates and have since checked the area with our onboard structure scan and in fact, discovered quite a large reef on the Gold Coast just off Main Beach.

Being familiar with all the well-known commercial dive sites in the region, we already knew that this wasn’t a site popular with other divers.

Destination Gold Coast’s publications mention nine popular reefs up and down the Gold Coast, but none with these coordinates.

To confirm this finding, we have already sent divers down as part of an exploration dive who all had an amazing dive. This beautiful large dive site is located right in between the Scottish Prince Shipwreck and Greta’s Reef in close proximity to the Gold Coast Seaway entrance.

It’s approximately 250 metres long and 150 metres wide. The rocky reef is about 16-18m deep and consists of boulders and bommies with sandy patches separating them. There are two sections to the reef.  The large main area and a smaller isolated section to the east separated by sand. The marine life is diverse and includes huge amounts of small fish, coral, lots of wobbies, rays, nudis and turtles. It’s our belief that this reef was undiscovered until recently, and is true treasure.

This reef doesn’t feature in any Gold Coast dive tours, it’s not recognised in any Gold Coast official records and isn’t known as a fishing spot or marked on any map. As this reef doesn’t appear to have an official name, our diving community have decided to unofficially name the dive site Migaloo Reef. This is, of course, in honour of the astounding white whale who visits the area every year without fail.

migaloo 5

While all Gold Coast dive sites are extremely diverse and beautiful, Migaloo Reef isn’t any less so than the rest and stands on equal footing as dive sites that are already recognised.

We wholeheartedly believe that the astounding piece of natural beauty should be recognised as such by the officials at the Gold Coast and we are actively pursuing this avenue.

Today, we invite you to join our dive tours to the previously unidentified Migaloo Reef to experience diving at the Gold Coast’s latest dive site.

Some of the most popular sites to dive on the Gold Coast include the Wreck of the Scottish Prince which can be found 800 metres from the Southport Spit, Greta’s Reef, Palm Beach Reef, Wavebreak Island and of course the Gold Coast Seaway.

While all of these popular sites guarantee an excellent diving experience, they also guarantee that there are many other divers trying to get to them at the same time as this has been the case for years.

As the first dive group to identify Migaloo Reef, we’ve added it to our already popular charter tours and can attest that due to this recent finding, The Scuba Coach and Gold Coast Dive Adventures can now offer a point of difference and increased variety of diving options.

Migaloo Reef is encouraging visitors in their droves to use our service and visit the wonderful city of Gold Coast for a diving experience that very few before them have had.

The area is known for passing dolphins and sharks so to add further appeal, a surprise once-in-a-lifetime encounter could be on the cards for lucky visitors to the site!

Please join one of our first tours to this intact and untouched reef and visit our website for more information or to make your booking today.

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Gold Coast Dive Sites – Good times ahead for local divers

When people visit the Gold Coast, they often ask what the diving is like and what options there are. Surprisingly, many local divers only know their shore diving hot spots such as the Gold Coast Seaway and probably the wreck of the Scottish Prince. The most likely reason for this is that there was no commercial diving operator in at least 10 years that has offered a consistent and reliable charter service to all Gold Coast dive sites. Based at Runaway Bay Marina, Gold Coast Dive Adventures has launched its vessel Blue Manta in February 2017 and offers offshore diving trips every weekend and on requests for groups of 5 or more. We continuously explore new local dive sites and try to inform the local diving community of the additional magnificent diving options right at our door step. From that point of view, being a local Gold Coast Diver is a great thing as the need to commute to other diving destinations such as Byron Bay or Tweed Heads becomes less of a requirement with a charter boat just a few minutes down the road and many sites to explore.

The Gold Coast is very fortunate to have access to several dive sites within close proximity to the Gold Coast Seaway. The areal picture above provides and overview of the major sites that we recommend for scuba and free-diving. Greta’s Reef, Migaloo Reef and the historic wreck of the Scottish Prince are only minutes apart from each other and therefore present fantastic options for multi-dive boat trips. As the photograph indicates, the travel distance is little hence, ideal for people that suffer from the occasional motion sickness.

Mermaid Reef, Palm Beach Reef and Kirra Reef require a longer boat ride of up to 30min depending on sea conditions. We only visit these sites on days without major swell and seas. The longer ride is however well worth it. Palm Beach Reef is the Gold Coast’s largest reef system. It is more than 900m long and up to 450m wide in sections.

On days where weather conditions are against us, we are able to dive the Gold Coast Seaway and Wave Break Island on high tides.

Going to the north, not shown on the aerial photograph, we have sites available such as the wreck of the Sea Dragon and the wreck of the Aquarian, both within the Moreton Bay Marine Park bounderies. These sites are rarely visited as they require a certain combination of environmental conditions.

In conclusion, the diverse options for diving are unique in our regional area. Where else do you have 12 different dive sites only minutes apart from each other? Keen to check it out? Book a trip online by browsing our calendar.

The whales are jumping as the giant dredge departs

There is no denying that the Gold Coast beach replenishment project has kept humpback whales away from shore. It has been a challenging whale season for all commercial operators and research groups that had to burn the extra fuel in order to get encounters with the majestic giants. We have listened to the dredging noise via underwater microphones, kilometres away from the dredging work hence, we are not surprised that whales steered clear of the Gold Coast shoreline. The dredging works are now completed and it seems whales are now seen immediately close to shore, dangerously close to the shark nets and drum lines.

The whale season is not over yet and we are heading out again with the team of Humpback and High-rises for an half-day survey trip. This unique morning boat trip will give you a personalised experience. Since we are part of a research program, we have a permit to approach whales as close as 50m. We will obviously only do this without compromising the safety and free movement of the animal. Since our vessel is small, chances are whales will come up close to check us out.

You will help the team of Dr. Olaf by collecting survey data including but not limited to recording numbers within individual pods, dive times, surface behaviour, collecting skin and mucus samples and obviously taking lots of close up photographs. Furthermore, your participation will help to fund Dr. Olaf’s work. More information about the research can be found on HHR website: https://www.humpbacksandhighrises.org/

Gold Coast Sea Slug Census

Gold Coast Dive Adventures and The Scuba Coach are proud supporters and participants in the annual Gold Coast Sea Slug Census Weekend. We have visited 4 different dive sites over the last weekend including Palm Beach Reef, Greta’s Reef, Wreck of the Scottish Prince and Wave Break Island. If you ever wondered what the census is about, please see the extract of an ABC news article below.

More than 80 citizen scientists have taken part in the second annual Gold Coast Sea Slug Census. The aim is to find, identify and record the variety of brightly-coloured creatures in the region from South Stradbroke Island to Cook Island, just south of the border, in 48 hours. Census organiser and Southern Cross University professor Stephen Smith said the short-lived gastropods were a good indicator of environmental changes.

See the link to the full article here: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-25/sea-slug-census-points-to-southerly-movement-from-queensland/8979248?pfmredir=sm

Participating is rewarding as many local dive business donate prices such as gift vouchers, equipment items and dive trips.

If you want to find out more about the annual Sea Slug Census on the Gold Coast and how you can participate next year, join Deb Astons Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1726275340952205/?ref=group_header

Palm Beach Reef – The largest reef system on the Gold Coast

Palm Beach Reef is the largest reef system on the Gold Coast. The footprint is about 2-3 times bigger than the exposed part of Cook Island and it would probably take at least 10-20 dives to explore it all. Feel free to use and share our dive site map but we would appreciate if you always give us the credit for it.

Bull Sharks in the Gold Coast Seaway – Should I be worried?

This picture has been taken in the Gold Coast Seaway by Ian Banks from Diving the Gold Coast. It reminded us that approximately 20 surfers in average paddle across the Gold Coast Seaway each day right over the spot where this picture was taken. It’s a common spot where bull sharks happily hang out. We are not aware of any recorded shark attack in this area over the last decades which gets to show that the presence of sharks does not necessarily mean danger to humans. It’s a big ocean and sharks are there all the time, busy with all the things that sharks usually do all day long. Hunting for humans is not one these things. Shark attacks are accidents, often due to mistaken identity and very very rare in the scheme of things.

We will not get into the detail surrounding the shark net debate, however it is one more opportunity to express that shark nets have no purpose and are a psychological measure to take away the fear from tourist that our media has created.

(Photo Credit: Ian Banks – Diving the Gold Coast)

Additional Diver Access Stairs for the Spit

The Gold Coast Waterways Authority continues to amaze us with their engaging approach towards making the Spit a great place for the community. A second set of diver access stairs is being constructed west of the existing stairs. These new stairs will first be an alternative whilst pipeline works are carried out at the location of the first set of stairs.

This now allows us to safely drift-dive along the south west wall of the Gold Coast Seaway. Fantastic initiative. Well done GCWA. We love your work. keep it up!!

(Photo Credit: GCWA)

Gold Coast Freediving Courses

If this interests you, Gold Coast Dive Adventures and The Scuba Coach have collaborated with Freediving Gold Coast to provide you with AIDA International (International Association for Development of Apnea) certified instructors to conduct freediving courses. The courses run every weekend and can be conveniently booked online through us without any additional booking fees. If you like to find out more or to book online please click here.

Course Outline
This 2.5 days Open Water Freediving Course runs every weekend and will certify you to dive safely up to 20m of depth. The Scuba Coach has partnered with the amazing team of Freediving Gold Coast, the largest and only freediving school on the Gold Coast with their own vessel and class room.

Prerequisites
To enrol in this course a student must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older(16 years with parent or guardian consent).
  • Be able to swim at least 200m non stop without fins and at least 300m non stop with mask, fins, and snorkel.
  • Have completed the AIDA Medical Form.
  • Have completed the Liability Release form.

Purpose
This weekend course is our foundation freediving course covering the necessary skills and knowledge for a recreational freediver to safely freedive up to a maximum depth of 20 metres. This course is for students already confident in the water especially the ocean.  It is ideal for people who are confident swimmers, surfers, and scuba divers. The course consists of three components. The first component is on knowledge and theory development of approximately 4 hours. The second component is pool based practicing the freediving skills of static apnea, dynamic apnea and rescues. This is approximately 4 hours. The third and final component is in the open ocean practicing the freediving skills of free immersion, constant weight, equalisation and safety. This is approximately 5 hours including the boat trip to and from the dive site (included in the price).

Certification

On successful completion of this course the student is awarded the AIDA 2 Star certification and is registered on the AIDA website Education Online System (EOS).

Medical Conditions

If you tick “Yes” to any medical conditions on the medical form you must see your General Practitioner prior to attending your course. Download Medical Form Here. Please complete the Medical Form and present to your Instructor at the beginning of your course.

Equipment

We provide basic scuba equipment (wetsuit, mask and slip on fins). If you wish to purchase a high quality mask, wetsuit and free diving fins, you can do so on the next page after you clicked on ‘book now’.

Enrolment and Payment

  • Book conveniently online
  • Once booked we will email you your student materials