The marvels that reside under these wooden, metal and other artificial material structures at times eliminate the need to venture far from shore to dive. Piers, constructions that link the land to sea may seem ugly from the surface yet underneath the struts and beams that interlock create a home for hundreds of species. Soft and hard coral grows in abundance and schools of fish find protection under the structure. For a photographer there is no better place to learn, and explore the underwater world in relative simplicity. The light that streams through the water in shallow waters here makes pier diving one of the most underrated of all sites in the marine world.
Exmouth Navy Pier
Perennially voted in the top 10 dives in Australia, the Navy Pier off Exmouth is located in the remote North West Cape of Western Australia. Close to the revered marine park of Ningaloo, the pier is still in active duty by the defence department, allowing constant protection from fishing and other recreational disturbance. Diving with a local licensed operator is required, yet once in the water 200 species of fish await.
The pier is around 110 metres long and 15 metres deep (perfect for open water divers). Regular visitors include schools of sweetlips and barracuda, Queensland grouper, grey nurse sharks, wobbegongs and even a passing whale shark from time to time.
Due to heavy currents in the area the site must only be dived at slack tide. Night diving is impressive here to and colourful clownfish, nudibranchs and coral make a macro photography paradise.
With water temperatures averaging 26 Celsius during the year, the dive is extremely comfortable in a 2 or 3mm wetsuit. The ideal time to visit is during March and November where the visibility is clearest and the greatest chance to see an abundance of marine life.
In Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Portsea Pier is an ideal dive for trainee’s and those who wish to explore the underwater world leisurely. This 300 metre, L shaped pier is one of the most popular dives in Melbourne due to an abundance of marine life and the good chance to encounter the illustrious weedy sea dragon. While light is good under the pier due to the shallow conditions (1-7 metres), be aware that dredging occurs in the channel and the site is best dived on slack high tide where there is little disturbance and current.
The weedy sea dragons can be found in kelp at the deepest portion of the pier, and if one looks closely there may be the chance to see blue ring octopus, shrimp, crabs and nudibranchs. This great amount of macro life makes for a fantastic night dive, however unlike Exmouth Navy Pier fishing is allowed here so be aware of lines and hooks from above.