AFA National Depth Competition: Day 3

Chris Kim; Battling his way to the base plate

Chris Kim; Battling his way to the base plate

There was definitely a different mood on the ocean this morning; a brooding expectation, an anticipation that the divers only had one last dive and the pressure to perform was definitely on the increase. Anticipation can play tricks in your mind, and it's not an easy thing to shake. For competitors, the excitement and expectation can switch from positive to negative very quickly. We saw some incredible athletes compete this morning, and no-one could say we weren't in the company of some of the worlds best. There were a couple of dives that seemed to really lift the spirits of all who were there, a true testimony to what a supportive and amazing group of individuals were at the meet. When Chris Kim, who began incredibly buoyant in his no fins attempt, managed to battle through to negative bouyancy, take the tag and return to complete surface protocol successfully, I have never been more amazed with a dive or the support from everyone who witnessed it. There was as much determination in that performance than any dive to much deeper depths! Well Done!

Amber grabbed a tag DNS

Amber grabbed a tag DNS

Congratulations to all who competed, there were some amazing moments as pb's were recognised. Looking forward to the celebrations later tonight. 

Again, here are some of the highlights from the day.

Returning to the surface with safety divers on close watch, Chris completed an amazing dive

AFA National Depth Challenge: Day 2

Sunny and Warm

Sunny and Warm

Trista begins her CW attempt

Trista begins her CW attempt

The morning started much like every other has here in Tulumben; warm, sunny and with beautiful clear water. The last of the trade winds could be felt this morning, and a fine chop stirred the surface ever so slightly. Again, the locals greeted us at sunrise with their beautiful wooden longboats. I am constantly impressed as to how they handle the oceans and the beaching they endure!

The second day started with the same amount of eagerness, with the second diver for the day Ant Judge (AUS) completing a new National Australian Record in Free Immersion (87m). He looked powerful and committed on the descent, and after some courageous will power and some expert coaching saw the white card cleared and ecstatic Ant claim the new title. After an unsuccessful attempt yesterday, Ant quipped that there was no coffee down there, so he came back early. After today, if you see this man... buy him a coffee!

"I remember looking over at one of the safety divers and shaking my head, and thinking at one point, ah no... what have you got yourself into Ant" - Ant Judge

The following divers pulled off some incredible feats, with white cards narrowly missed on two of the other deepest dives. Surface protocol means the difference between claiming a record or starting over again, regardless of making it to the depth announced or not. I have not doubt the following attempts will come back with white cards.

The following are some of my shots from the day (Including one or two pics from the last week). Looking forward to some free time with the divers so that I can get my lights back onto the rig and light the place up. Still so impressed by the determination of even the shallower divers. A depth that seems very achievable in practice becomes immensely deeper in the mind when a group of spectators, officials and safety divers are all watching your attempt.

Best wishes for the last day of competition tomorrow!

Australian Freedive Association: Competition Time!

After a week of training, the competition has eventually began with ideal conditions; a very pleasant 25m+ visibility, minimal current and flat, warm blue seas. It was an early start, with competitors, silhouetted by the sunrise, entering the competition area on local outrigger style longboats.

Dave Mullins (NZ) heading to the depths

Dave Mullins (NZ) heading to the depths

With many experiencing their first national competition, the most experienced athletes lead the way into the depths. With some very impressive numbers beginning to show on the score cards, albeit very small yellow card penalties (a yellow card means a nominated depth is not achieved and a deduction is made from the score- impressive all the same) the morning drew out some personal bests, a new Indonesian National Record, and some very impressive scores to start the fledgling competitors careers.


To have a look at the official scoresheet so far and to follow the progress of the competition; have a look at


Byron Bay 21/7/2015

Before I get into what I saw, I figure it's useful to list what was happening with the water. I've seen plenty of people cancel a dive because the visibility looked low, or the temperature was down or the currents were strong, and in reality, all of these conditions effect where the fish go as well. So if we know what happens when those conditions turn up, and what it means for finding different underwater life, we, as divers can decide if it's a good thing, or a not so good thing, and chance our luck.

One of the persistent comments I hear when ever I'm diving in low visibility, and I use this very subjectively (as anyone who has learned to dive in a quarry will tell me 3-5m vis is good vis) is that they wish the visibility was better. In retort, the go-to expression used by most habitual low visibility divers is "Good visibility is great.... if you like looking at rocks" and sometimes I agree.

SO, Today:

Temperature: 19 degrees, which is getting toward the cooler side of the annual range at this site.

Current: Running "reverse" or from the south to the north, along the deeper parts of the dive site, which is uncommon here. The surface water was warmer and running in the usual north to south direction.

Visibility: Where the surface water hit the Julian Rocks, an area of clean warmer (20 degree) water created localised 8-10m visibility. The deeper areas with cooler reverse current had approximately 4-5m visibility.

Swell: A 3-4ft swell created whitewash over parts of the shallower sections, surge was apparent at shallower (-10m) areas.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, we get to the interesting part!

Those who have dove Julian Rocks many times will recount that, during the winter months, there are large numbers of snapper (Pagrus Auratus) and grey nurse sharks (Carcharhinus Taurus) and today certainly didn't disappoint that expectation. As well as the smattering of wobbegong sharks, surgeon fish, yellow and blue fusiliers that we saw; on the currents lee side (the northern side) there was a distinct absence of jewfish from the 'cod-hole' (Agryosomus japonicas) although I suspect they may shifted to the current front.

These were the highlights from a hydrological perspective: We had schools of pearl perch, really active in 12-14m. Along side them were venus tuskfish (Choerodon venustus) and my absolute favourite (and second ever sighting at Julian Rocks) a 3-4kg rusty jobfish. I usually find these fish far deeper than the 14m mark, however I've noted before that the cold reverse currents often bring the venus tuskfish into these areas. I had previously associated the rusty jobfish with more tropical waters,  so it was also really interesting to see it at this latitude, this depth and this temperature. Looking forward to getting some pictures up, hopefully that should happen soon!



Tamarama Storm

Last night saw a beautiful storm cell open up over the skies of Sydney. Not quite in time to get the start of it, I managed to get a few shots as it disappeared from the coast and headed south east and out to sea. Lightning storms like this are usually associated with the summer months, but with the unusual weather (snow down to 600m) today, and reported coldest average day in the last decade saw some excitement in the skies.