We did our inaugural Annual Scoresby Shepherd scuba dive on Saturday the second of October. We had stated during Scoresby’s final farewell from PIRSA/SARDI last March that we would hold an annual dive in Scoresby’s name.

Dr Scoresby Shepherd

Dr Scoresby Shepherd AO was born 22/1/1935. His Officer of the Order of Australia award was made in 2006. He retired during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2021 at the age of 86. He had been our Patron for over 15 years up until 2018.

Stair Reef in October 2021

We decided to hold the inaugural Annual Scoresby Shepherd scuba dive on the Saturday of the Labour Day public holiday long weekend, 2nd October 2021. It just seemed right that the first Scoresby Shepherd scuba dive should be held on the first Saturday of October. We consider this Spring day to be the start of the new diving season in South Australia.

It turned out to be a good day in the midst of several dodgy days when it came to diving. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions to kick off the new diving season in Scoresby’s honour.

Four diving photographers met in the car park at Port Noarlunga to gear up. Although we had each been in the water recently, one of us hadn’t done a scuba dive for over four months, and another hadn’t done so for some two years. I prepared by donning some of Scoresby’s old diving gear such as BCD and long johns wet suit for my dive.

Stair Reef in May 2020

Three of us were soon ready to make the plunge from the divers’ stairs at the outer end of the jetty. We had already decided that our dive plan was to swim north along the reef to look at the old jetty stairs, which had been placed there in late 2018. Although I had seen them there before over one year earlier, my two dive buddies hadn’t. I led the way and we soon found them in the bay just east of the reef.

Stair Reef in May 2020

Although I had visited the ‘stairs reef’ before, I found that the growth on the stairs had certainly become more established now. The stairs had been in that position for less than three years. They had certainly been submerged for all that time, since becoming dislodged in 2018. Prior to that, they had been just partly submerged, as part of the jetty structure, for about 21 years. All up, they have been in the water one way or another for some 24 years. They are now a macro-photographer’s dream site.

Stair Reef in October 2021

The visibility this year was somewhat better than it was back in May last year. I could now take wide angle shots from further back. There was so much growth on the old stairs that we were able to spend a ½ hour checking it all out and taking photos. There were a couple of sea stars, a couple of nudibranchs and lots of fish and invertebrate growth.

When it seemed like we had pretty much seen everything there, we swam back to the reef to work our way slowly back to the jetty. We found lots of fish at the reef and hard corals under ledges and in the many holes along the reef. I paid particular attention to the occurrence of hard corals because we had received an enquiry from the SA Museum about them recently.

By the time that the jetty came into sight, we had spent an hour in the 15°C water. A slow exit extended our dive time by another six minutes. We had enjoyed our dive immensely and will gladly return to the site again in the near future. We can now look forward to more Annual Scoresby Shepherd scuba dives (Scoresby Scuba?) too.

(The stairs specifically made for scuba divers at the Port Noarlunga jetty were first installed in 1997. They were opened by Ray Gilbert, Mayor of the City of Onkaparinga, on 6th December 1997. These steps probably suffered damage from the occasional bad storm, but they more or less lasted about 21 years until they were dislodged by a storm in November 2018. It was March 2020 before new stairs were opened on the jetty. According to a web page of the Scuba Divers Federation of SA found at https://sdfsa.net/sdfsa-issues/port-noarlunga-jetty-access/ , “The old stairs at the end of the jetty were torn off in storms in November 2018.  These have been removed and placed to the north of the jetty to create an artificial reef and provide a further home for the marine life”.)

Video footage of the stairs in 2018 can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb-7HFM-1zQ and (2) Facebook.

By Steve Reynolds

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.

One thought on “Our inaugural Annual Scoresby Shepherd scuba dive”
  1. Just for the record I was the 4th diver Steve alludes to in this dive report. Typically I arrived about 15 minutes late at the car park where the others were kitting up so they slowed my own dive preparation by asking lots of questions (eg were you given your middle name Spencer from the old BBC sitcom series “Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em”?)
    I retaliated (to their collective amazement, knowing what a gregarious diver I usually am) by entering late and heading south along the inside of the Reef. I thought I could do The Gap (been a while, and the weak tide was favourable) but I spent the first half hour doodling about where jetty meets Reef so I only made it about 3/4 of the way to the gap before turning back due having used half of my small tank and because it was very chilly (I guessed 16 degrees but Steve Reynolds’ guage or someone’s guage said 15 degrees. Obviously they should have their guage serviced because I am never wrong).
    Contents 200 bar at entry, 60 at exit.
    I enjoyed the dive, including imaging 2 species of stony coral (Green and McNeil’s).
    I observed plenty of fish cleaning activity.
    I got back to the car in time for a nice social chat over coffee and snacks with the other 3 members, then we went our separate ways, each content with life and glad we had picked the best day for such a
    an important event.

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