Normanville Jetty and Hotspot

May 10, 2017|Posted in: Bony fishes, Dive Reports, Jetties, Maritime History, Syngnathids

David Muirhead says that the Normanville jetty is “a pretty poor excuse for a jetty”. “I have, however, found some surprisingly good photographic subjects on the piles at high tide, which is all the more titillating given the entire jetty can be above the water mark,” he says.

(The present jetty is the second Normanville jetty. The first one was a short distance to the south of the current one but, after severe storm damage, it was decided that repairing it would be pointless because the sediments accompanying the catchment outflows of the major storm had made the water under and around the old jetty too shallow for ketches, etc… to moor at low tide.)

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Zoanthids

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

“But dozens of anemones of many colours and sizes climb up the piles during high tide and migrate down again as the tide recedes, and eventually bury themselves in the sand or close up into much smaller blobs clinging to the concrete bases and hiding in wooden clefts around the base of the piles. When the tide is well in, there are many Tasmanian blennies and even a few three fins on the same piles. Beneath the jetty, in the shallowest of shallows, I have got nice photos of silver whiting, older juveniles, juvenile estuary catfish, even the occasional Cowfish! Plus the usual juvenile flathead, Australian herring, yellow eye mullet, smooth toadies, etc… Plus it’s a good place to find those weird jellyfish things Olindias phosphorica and another similar Olindias species, but I am wary of getting too close to Olindias jellyfish, despite the very small size, because they are very strong swimmers which often turn towards you and try to sting you; and the sting, while not dangerous, is quite painful; a degree worse than the other common stingers in our gulfs, the jimble. And eagle rays and southern fiddler rays are always cruising by just beyond the outer piles on the tides seasonally, or perhaps that’s the time we see them because the water is clearer and we mainly swim in the warm season. Directly out from the SLS Club lies what I call Normanville Syngnathids Hotspot (around 20 species of Syngnathids are documented as occurring there!) Hotspot superficially appears like almost the last place anyone would want to dive. It’s a classic case of appearances being deceiving. If you are into pipefish, that is, but many other critters occur there too and Hotspot is never more than 5 metres depth (spring tide), and mostly just 2-4 metres depth! But you need scuba not snorkel to get the best from Hotspot because most of the subjects are small, very cryptic and on the silty sandy bottom and there’s nothing to grab onto with a hand when photographing with the other. … apart from the few outlier clumps of Posidonia sinuosa (etc…) and a big old tree stump roughly in the middle of Hotspot which arrived about a decade ago during another big storm and is still there but fully submerged at all times.

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Old tree stump

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

Then there is nice low to medium relief limestone reef a bit further out from Hotspot and the best bommies are a short distance north of Hotspot and about 50 metres north of the Jetty. About 200 metres from shore at most!

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Talma

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

These have good ledges with all the usual fish, including the occasional blue devil. Even the occasional silver spot, which are one of my favourite SA reef fish. Best found on night dives and they find you but you only get one chance to photograph them after which they retreat to the deep inner recesses of the shallow calcrete ledges and usually don’t reappear! Finally, of course being a shared use zone, divers at Hotspot should tow a diver below flag and ideally inform the SLSC volunteers of their dive plan if the beach is at all busy e.g. in school holidays. I have had some interesting interactions with other users at Hotspot.”

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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