Adelaide, South Australia
Type of dive: Reef
Access: Boat only (45 minutes)
Minimum qualification: Open Water
Depth: 5-21 metres (15-70’)
Visibility: 5-20 metres (15-65’)
Water temperature: 17°C (63°F) – 20°C (69°F)
Best time to visit: November – June
Snorkelling: Yes, off Snapper Point.
Aldinga Beach Aquatic Reserve, one of Australia’s earliest marine reserves, lies just 45 kilometres (28 miles) to the south of Adelaide, South Australia’s capital city, in the Gulf St Vincent.
The reserve was established in 1971 to protect marine plants and animals, including endangered delicate gorgonian sea fans and blue groper. It includes all the underwater reef from the intertidal limestone flats off Snapper Point to the spectacular underwater cliff known as Aldinga Drop-off at the edge of the reserve, around 1.5 kilometres (one mile) off shore.
Over many years the offshore limestone reef has been carved by erosion creating underwater pinnacles, overhangs, crevasses and spectacular walls, all teeming with fish and covered with an incredible array of invertebrate life.
Aldinga Drop-Off is a wall on the outer edge of the five metre deep limestone reef, dropping very sharply to the sand at 21 metres (70’). The sand is very fine and easily stirred up, creating a loss in visiblity, so good buoyancy control is essential to the enjoyment of this great dive site. The wall runs north-south for around 800 metres (2,500’).
Large delicate, colurful gorgonian fans adorn the drop-off and a close look will reveal other soft corals, sponges, bryzoans, zoanthids, ascidians, sea stars and nudibranchs. An underwater torch is essential to appreciate the true colour of the magnificanet array of invertebrate life making the wall home.
Cuttlefish, perch, boarfish and blue devil fish can be found in the many nooks and crannies while wobbegongs and rays lay on the sand.
On the top of the drop-off schools of free swimming sweep, old wives, pike and kingfish are encountered, whilst closer to the bottom blue groper, morwong and scorpionfish are prevelent.
Nearby, there are ten rock pinnacles, the Aldinga Pinnacles, which reach up from around 10 metres (30’) to two metres (6’) under the surface.
A splash on the drop-off with its beautiful coral fans or the pinnacles with their fabulous fish life, is a must when visiting Adelaide.
Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair
Other great dive sites to visit while you are there:
Ex-HMAS Hobart, Aldinga Pinnacles, Gull Rock, Lassiter’s Reef, Myponga Beach and Second Valley.
Footnote: Ex-HMAS Hobart is also a must do great dive!