So that's what a remora feels like!
Contributed by Ric Mingramm
Dive Log Update:
||Rough as guts
The Rip is the name given to that renowned stretch of water at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, separating Points Lonsdale and Nepean. This area can be one of the most dangerous stretches of water on our continent, but at times can be so peaceful and calm that one could not envisage the hundreds of ships, which have been lost in its vicinity.
One of the reasons for the severe turbidity of the water in this area is the deep rift, which travels from the edge of the Kelp Beds, towards Lonsdale and then out through the centre of the Rip, towards and then past Point Nepean. This rift gives us the popular diving locations of the Drop Off and Nepean Wall. The currents in this area can reach speeds in excess of 5 knots and it is at this time that the fabulous Rip Drift is conducted, on an incoming or flood tide only, for obvious reasons. The divers, attached to a line and float, descend and travel along the top of the rift, following the contours at approx 20 m, until they are swept past the rift as it veers to the right; they then continue into the area approaching the Kelp Beds.
The underwater landscape during this drift is phenomenal, with large bommies and deep gutters teeming with fish and general marine life. It is impossible to stop and look at any one particular spot as the current is to strong, and in fact, will usually carry the group several kilometres during a 30 minute dive. Care must be taken of course not to snag the float line on rocks or other protrusions.
This dive, due to the underwater scenery, and sheer exhilaration, would be one of the most "raved about" dives in the Bay, and consequently one of the most popular.
Well I must be totally honest and proclaim that I didn't tell my buddy (long suffering wife Anne) that it was a drift dive - I thought it more appropriate to stage it as a ......... crayfish search, knowing that she fancied crays.
The dive started going pear shaped when I looked and saw that most of the divers were attempting to lure up sea creatures by disbursing small amounts of partially digested food over the gunwhales of the boat. Anne was an alluring shade of green, which went well with her strawberry blonde hair (I thought). Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't get seasick when the boat is moving - I can attest to the fact that my colleagues totally disproved this theory. Being an ex-navy puke the rocking of the boat was like the sweet caress of a loving mother!
The DiveMaster explained that we dropped you in the water here, follow your buoy and will pick you up inside the Bay in about 30 minutes. Keep your eyes open for crays, nudibranchs etc etc and enjoy the ride.
Anyway through the tomato skins and carrots we eventually descended - me with grappling hook in hand and float line attached, Anne as one buddy and Sharyn another diver as my other partner. We quickly ascended and joined what can only be called an underwater roller coaster ride .... what a buzz.
You screamed towards a reef and then up and over down into a gully and on.......I recall it being said that if you wanted to stop and look at the reef juts put in the grappling hook and have a look around.ERROR - all future briefing should recall what happens when you do this.
Seeing a small shark I decided it would be fun to stop and look closer. I placed the hook into the reef and passed me at 5 knots went 2 dive buddies, my mask and regulator! I then had to reset myself, whilst looking into the startled yes of my buddies as they hung onto the float line and gave me evil looks. I then struggled to unhook the hook from the reef - realising that drowning may be a more painless out for me than fronting the girls when we got back to the boat.
Having extricated form the reef I found a small shark laying on the sandy bottom, I lifted it to show the girls and it immediately decided to slipstream on me and take the ride. It was most unnerving having a small 3 foot mollusc eating creature slip streaming with its mouth so close to my nether region - but as much as I twisted and turned it remained with me - probably getting it own back on remoras! (The Remora fish (Echeniedea) is a long slender fish which has its dorsal fin modified as a sucker-like attachment organ. It attaches to the sides of larger fish and turtles using them as transport hosts but in addition, obtains food fragments dropped from the host.)
The dive ended as always way too early and we climbed aboard the boat, the girl's gave me a "what were you thinking putting that hook in lecture" and they were both quizzically about the fish that I picked up (didn't have the heart to tell them it was a shark - well not right away anyway!).
The trip back was a bit calmer with the winds swinging around as they usual do about 4pm in Melbourne - and less local fish were fed on the return trip, the sight of dolphins and the chatter about the rip ride taking the focus from the rhythmic motion of the dive boat as we returned to Portsea.
Another dive complete - another adventure placed in the file.