RAPID BAY JETTY
Rapid Bay, South Australia
Type of dive: Jetty
Minimum qualification: Open Water
Depth: 3-11 metres (10-36’)
Visibility: 5-15 metres (15-50’)
Water temperature: 17°C (63°F) – 20°C (69°F)
Best time to visit: November – May
Snorkelling: Yes, teems of fish!
Rapid Bay Jetty is the seadragon capital of the world and is one of Adelaide’s most popular dive sites due to its resident population of exquisite ornately camouflaged leafy or Glauert’s Seadragons (Phycodurus eques).
Rapid Bay is on the Fleurieu Peninsula about 1.5 hours (100km/60m) south of Adelaide by road. Rapid Bay was named after HMS Rapid, the brig carrying Colonel Light to Glenelg in 1830.
The dive site is actually two jetties; the old one built in 1940 for the nearby limestone and dolomite mine, and the more recent addition which opened in 2009 at a cost of $3.9 million.
There is a conveniently located car park nearby and access to the water is easy via a platform on the new ‘T’ shaped jetty running north-south for 488 metres (1600‘). The east-west section is 200 metres (660’) long.
The best diving is the old jetty which runs parrallel to the new jetty, only 50 metres (165’) to the west.
It is the old jetty where the leafy seadragons reside and are easily found. There are also weedy or common seadragons (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), as well as, although not as common, and harder to find.
Seadragons along with seahorses are members of the pipefish family and are only found in southern Australian waters. Like seahorses, the males of the species are assigned to carrying fertilised eggs until tiny sea dragons hatch after a four to six week incubation. ‘Leafies’ can reach 35 centimeters (14”) in length while the slightly larger ‘Weedies’ can reach 46 centimeters (18”). Both species are protected.
Colourful invertebates such as sponges, ascidians, soft corals, sea stars and colourful nudibranchs all thrive in the jetty environment.
Fish life is plentiful particulary at the ‘T’ where large schools of old wife, schools of yellowtail scad, pygmy leather jackets and resident black rays, over one metre (4’) across all call Rapid Bay Jetty home.
Whether wide angle or close up, Rapid Bay Jetty is an underwater photographers’ dream – it is teaming with life.
Because of its north facing proximity protecting it from the prevailing southerly winds, Rapid Bay Jetty is an ideal all-year-round dive site.
Rapid Bay also has a resident dolphin population and dolphins have been known to interact with divers under the jetty occasionally.
Copyright C 2015 Steve Sinclair
Other great Australian jetty dives:
WA – Busselton Jetty, Esperance Jetty, Exmouth Navy Wharf
SA – Edithburgh, Noarlunga
Victoria – Blairgowrie, Rye, Portsea, Flinders, Portarlington
NSW – Merimbula Wharf, Tathra Wharf