Moreton Bay, Brisbane has much to offer, with rich offshore reefs, several shipwrecks, an impressive variety of marine life and excellent scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography.
Brisbane's dive sites are located off Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands. These dive sites are far offshore, and the water is reasonably clear all year round.
The Tangalooma Artificial Reef runs along the inside of Moreton Island and provides a wonderful dive site when the weather is too rough to venture out to the seaward sites. The wrecks attract a lot of fish and a large range of invertebrates.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
Artificial Wrecks, Reefs and Spectacular Marine Life
Moreton Bay, Brisbane has much to offer, with rich offshore reefs, several shipwrecks and an impressive variety of marine life. Brisbane's dive sites are located off Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands, in Moreton Bay. These dive sites are far offshore, but the water is reasonably clear year round. Numerous dive boats operate out of Brisbane and divers have a wide choice of day trips and live-aboards. Bookings can be made through most of the dive shops in Brisbane.
Morton Bay supports a very diverse range of tropical of cowry shells ( Cypraeidae) Tiger Cowries Cypraea tigris are generally nocturnal but in shaded localities they may be seen out during the day. ( Photo: Neville Coleman)
For the latest information on diving conditions consult the Brisbane Coastwatch Service, which provides reports on television, radio and in the newspaper each weekend.
Many wonderful dive sites are located off Moreton Island. Two large artificial reefs lie along the landward side of the island, while along the seaward side there are a number of shipwrecks, submerged reefs, and a true coral reef that is exposed at low tide.
Construced by a group of very forward thinking ( very Australian ) girls from a local dive club, the Moreton Bay Mermaid stands a lonely figure out on the sand, pointing the way to the car body wrecks. She did have fins but somebody swiped them. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
I ran an UNDERWATER NATURALIST COURSE for the same club………….for my first introduction to the club…..all the guys attended the theory course dressed in drag! I was more than a little worried at the time at how I had advertized the course. However, the joke was ( as usual ) on me…a very funny time was had by all!
Curtin Artificial Reef
Since 1968, members of the Underwater Research Group of Queensland have been sinking large vessels, cars, tyres and pontoons to create the Curtin Artificial Reef. Today the reef pulsates with marine life , tropical fish, gropers, turtles, wobbegong sharks, stingrays, eagle rays, trevally and other schooling fish. Most of the wrecks have been cleared of obstructions and can be safely entered and explored.
One of the car bodies at the car body wreck site. Even though these were small isolated artificial reefs they certainly attracted their share of stonefish. ( Photo: Neville Coleman)
Fifteen vessels have been sunk on the landward side of Moreton Island to form a break wall for small boats. These are the Tangalooma Wrecks which provide good diving in depths from 2-10 m. Even in this shallow water, the wrecks are fun to dive, and attract an amazing amount of marine life, including wobbegongs, trevally, kingfish, yellowtail and lots of tropical fish.
Grass Tuskfish Choerodon cephalotes are just magnificent fish to watch when they are hunting. This one inside an open, silt filled hull was systematically choosing spots and laying down and fanning the sand away to find molluscs. ( Photo:) Neville Coleman)
Located north of Moreton Island, Flinders Reef is Brisbane's only true coral reef. The diving is good all around the reef on walls, gutters, caves and pinnacles scattered in depths from 3-25 m. Lush coral growths of staghorn, brain, plate and many other hard coral species, as well as soft corals, gorgonians, sponges and sea whips are found in the shallows. You will find plenty of reef fish, and a good range of invertebrates, turtles, stingrays, wobbegong sharks, and the occasional manta ray.
Common beneath caves and overhangs, Spotted Wobbygongs Orectolobus maculatus generally select a cave that has a good population of nocturnal schooling fish, so as to have a dependable food source on hand. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Another new species of Sea Star I discovered first at Swain Reefs many years ago is now known to be reasonably common off certain reefs in Moreton Bay. Coleman's Nippled Star Gomophia sp. grows to 130 mm and occurs around 20 to 25 metres. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
There are a number of other excellent dive sites off Moreton Island, including Henderson Rock, Smith Rock and Hutchinson Shoal, which all offer a good variety of marine life. The shipwrecks Cementco and Aarhus both make interesting dives.
North Stradbroke Island
Straddy, as it is affectionately known, has a number of offshore island with good vie sites. Getting to these can be difficult sometimes as boats leaving from Brisbane must cross a large sand bar, which can be impossible in rough seas. Stradbroke Dive Centre runs an inflatable from the beach, thus avoiding the bar and taking only minutes to reach the best area. Good dive sites off Straddy include Shag Rock, Middle Reef and Boat Rock, all of which attract an excellent range of fish and other large marine creatures.
One of my favourite dive sites out of Moreton Bay is Shag Rock. Some of the giant rock formations are covered in Spikey Soft Corals Dendronephthya sp. There is a huge range of brilliant invertebrate species and the water is shallow enough to get reasonable bottom time. (photo: Neville Coleman)
Located off a collection of small islands known as The Group, Manta Bommies is the best of Brisbane diving. In depths from 6-12 m lies a rocky ref with a large concentration of marine life, especially over the summer and autumn months. Up to a dozen manta rays are regularly seen cruising over the reef, accompanied by schools of stingrays, eagle rays and huge shovelnose rays. Turtles are very common, and plenty of wobbegongs, catsharks and leopard sharks gather over summer. Reef fish, pelagic fish, and an incredible range of invertebrates make this a very special dive site.
Leopard Sharks Stegasoma fasciatum can be seen at a number of sites in the Moreton Bay area where they congregate during summer to mate. However, little is known regarding their egg laying sites, which appears to be in deeper water. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Flat Rock is an island surrounded by walls, gutters, ledges and pinnacles in depths to 35 m. The coral growth is prolific, and reef fish and other marine life are plentiful. While there are dozens of good dive sites around the island, the best would have to be the Shark Gutters at the southern end of the island. Every winter the Shark Gutters attract grey nurse sharks, which possibly gather in the area to mate and give birth. Up to a dozen can often be seen patrolling the gutters, and divers can get in quite close if they stay low on the side of the gutters.
Grey nurse Sharks Carcharias taurus congregate in the Shark Gutters at Flat rock during the winter months. Its thought they come north to breed. (photo:) Neville Coleman)
Neville Coleman's expeditions, fauna surveys, photographic fauna surveys and marine life identification courses include every major group of marine life.
Neville Coleman's expertise in living taxonomy and marine life identification extends to the identification of Algae, Sea Grass, Mangroves, Forams, Sponges, Stony Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Anemones, Sea Jellies, Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Black Corals, Flatworms, Segmented Worms, Crustaceans, Barnacles, Shrimps, Rock Lobsters, Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Molluscs, Chitons, Univalves, Bivalves, Cephalopods, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Opisthobranchs, Nudibranchs, Sea Slugs, Bryozoans, Sea Mosses, Echinoderms, Sea Stars, Feather Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Ascidians/Sea Squirts, Marine Fish, Sharks, Marine Reptiles, and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters around Moreton Bay, Queensland Australia.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)