Coffs Harbour Report: May 2009 by Mark Kallman


I am not convinced that I should even be writing this article this month as I have only managed to dive once! Through no fault of my own mind you. The weather has been atrocious. All of the surrounding towns have been flooded for the third time this year, fortunately most of Coffs was spared this time. All that flood water turned the sea brown and then the Southerly fronts hit. Massive boulders were flung onto the breakwaters around the harbour. Picture one of the dolosse in Durban harbour being flung around. Chunks of rock that size, do an immense amount of damage. Boats safely moored in the harbour were sunk by waves coming over the breakwater. Excuses aside, we have had only 3 diveable days this month.


Divers, who braved the conditions on the 15th and made a run out to the Northern Pinnacles, were not disappointed. There were Wahoo around, not thick, but some were taken. A few Spanish Mackerelwere introduced to the art of spearfishing too. I went out the following day and although the Wahoo and Spanish were nowhere to be seen, we were treated to a sight, as a school of Mack Tuna got well and truly bashed by Yellowfin Tuna. I managed a Yellowtail and an Amberjack. Michael followed some Yellowfin that were lured in with burley but they proved elusive. To crown it all, as Michael unloaded his gun to get back into the boat, a big school of Spanish surrounded him, leaving promptly after he had reloaded.


We recently saw the stranding of a sub-adult Pygmy Sperm Whale on one of the local beaches. The Pet Porpoise Pool saw to its safe transport to the harbour where Marine Parks quickly established a pen for the animal. Coffs Harbour Bluewater Freedivers were asked to provide divers to manage the care of the whale while penned. It was reassuring to see the level of commitment the Club’s members showed toward this effort. Unfortunately the whale had to be euthenased due to the extensive injuries it had sustained during the stranding.


The cold is almost upon us and preparations need to be made for another challenging aspect of our sport, chasing Jewfish and collecting crays. Jewfish are Kob by another name and like to hold up under white water in fairly shallow gutters. The trick is having a collection of these gutters which allow access in differing weather conditions. It is probably sensible to look at using an old wetsuit because you will get banged around amongst the rocks. Shorter fins like those used for Underwater Hockey are just the ticket. Although we have crayfish in the area all year, the colder water is favoured by the Green Crayfish, the tastiest of the bunch. Diving in shallow water will also require slightly heavier weights to avoid expending too much effort in trying to keep submerged. While scratching around for crays, it pays to keep an eye open for Abalone (Perlemoen) too.