Diving with Sharks in Forster NSW

Grey Nurse sharks cruise in front of a resting Wobbegong.

We arrived at Dive Forster, which is located at Fishermans Wharf, just before 9am on Sunday morning to sign our paperwork and get tanks filled. The dive boat, Avanti, arrived just after 10, fresh from taking a group out to swim with dolphins in the morning, and we quickly loaded our gear onboard and got underway.
Forster is located 3 and a half hours north of Sydney and is built around the channel that connects the large shallow Wallis Lake to the ocean. This gives the mid sized town both a lake side and an ocean side, which makes it a great place to visit if you like water sports like surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing and ofcourse scuba diving.

Ellie on the lookout for Dolphins

Onboard we were accompanied by Ellie, the resident boat dog, kept a keen lookout for dolphins and pelicans, while Ron steered the Avanti out the channel into the ocean towards our dive site.

The weather had been really poor for diving in the last week, with both recent rain and a heavy swell impacting the local sites on Saturday. This usually results in reduced visibility and uncomfortable conditions in and on the water, but Sunday morning was bright and sunny and although the swell was still present, it was much reduced.

It took around 20 minutes to get to our first dive site, The Pinnacle, and we were soon in the water descending the buoy line while bands of large kingfish circled around us. We hit the top of The Pinaccle in around 25 metres of water then descended further to our planned bottom at 32 metres, a small platform overlooking a deeper gully popular with the local Grey Nurse population.

While waiting on the deco line we fed the fish a bit of bread, which drove them crazy.

Grey Nurse sharks can be fickle, sometimes disappearing from an area for unknown reasons. We recently dived Magic Point in Maroubra which is a famous spot in Sydney for them, but despite perfect conditions (or because of them) we didn’t see a single one. On this dive though, in reasonable conditions, we saw at least half a dozen.
When viewing the sharks we sunk low onto the platform, as we were told they didn’t like hovering divers, which seemed to work as they were prepared to come fairly close to us. Similar to Mantas, they would float along on their planned trajectory, moving slightly if they came too close to us.

After about 15 mintues at 31 metres I was nudging my no deco limit using a 28% Nitrox mix (not a planned mix but the result of topping up a 32% tank with air), so I ascended the buoy line to around 18 metres where the crew where taking turns using a small axe to chip barnacles from the line, which attracted snapper looking for an easy feed.

After just under an hour surface interval we jumped back in, quickly swimming to the line as a slight current had started up. I tried to stay a little shallower this time as I had spent extra time in the water at 18m with Paul taking some pictures, so my bottom time was longer than the others, plus I had a shorter surface interval, though this was offset a little by my nitrox mix.

This time we swam around the jutting platform of The Pinnacle, noting the large numbers of wobbegong sharks lying on the bottom. Soon we ran into the grey nurse sharks again, and by anticpating one sharks course I was able to capture him with a wobby in the foreground.

Approaching my NDL again we moved back to the line where we watched a few more sharks cruise along the gully down at 40 metres before ascending once more, this time adding an extra long safety stop in the snapper zone.

This double dive with the Sharks in Forster with Dive Forster was one of the best I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend diving with Ron and crew as they wsill do their best to make sure you get the most out of the experience. They dive most days, best to call them on 02 6554 7478 to book a dive. You can also check out their website http://www.diveforster.com.au

Watching the sharks cruise by
Although Grey Nurse Sharks look fearsome, they are better described as Mostly Harmless.
Large Snapper around the deco line

Diveographic 240

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