South Australia is well known great white shark adventure trips and protected leafy Sea Dragons but there are many other underwater attractions for scuba diving, snorkeling and particularly underwater photography.
Currents from both the Indian and Pacific Oceans bring creatures typical to both eastern and western coastal zones, and the State's waters have stacks of endemic species.
Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals are found at many dive sites, and local divers are well accustomed to having seals around during dives.
Although Leafy Sea Dragons Phycodurus eques can be found in many locations around the reefs of South australia. They are almost always found in the kelp forests and algae beds. However, their comouflage is uncanny and sometimes it takes a while to recognise them.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
Most overseas divers head for South Australia for one of two reasons, to see the legendary great white shark, or the fantastic Leafy Sea dragons. The countless films and documentaries produced in the waters of South Australia give the impression that thousands of white sharks patrol just off the coast. But the fact is, their numbers are low and very few divers will ever see one in the water.
Thousands of scuba divers and snorkelers have visited South Australia to take part in RodneY Fox's Great White Shark trips. Carl Roessler from USA has been bringing groups of American divers and underwater photographers out to South Australia for over 25 years.
( copyright photo: Carl Roessler)
South Australian coast is a great place to see southern right whales, common and bottlenose dolphins, rock lobsters and unusual fish such as the multi-coloured harlequin fish, the western blue groper wrasse, the western blue devilfish, and weedy and leafy sea dragons.
Although South Australias dive industry is small, many areas offer excellent diving. Mount Gambier is famous for its freshwater lakes and sinkholes, a must for those into caves or really clear water.
The Double – spined Crayfish Euastacus bispinosus can be seen out foraging during the day. The bottom of the sink holes are very silty and a great deal of care must be taken with buoyancy, so as not to stir up the mud and reduce the visibility for others. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Numerous shore and boat dives can be found at Victor Harbour, Kangaroo Island, Adelaide and along the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas.
Those who enjoy live-board diving can visit the hundreds of islands scattered off the coastline. Many locations are not mentioned in the text because of the lack of diving facilities in the area, but for the diver with his/her own boat and compressor (or a large supply of tanks) there is good diving along the east coast at Port MacDonnell, Beachport, Robe and Kingston. The top end of the Eyre Peninsula from Whyalla to Port Neill offers good diving when the water is clear over winter.
Along the vast stretch of coast parallel to the Nullarbor Plain, off towns like Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay and Ceduna, lie rugged reefs with rock lobsters and plentiful reef fish. Many shipwrecks and a number of artificial reefs off Adelaide have attracted plenty of fish and invertebrate life. South Australia has numerous marine reserves throughout the State, which protect the marine life at many of the more popular dive sites.
Diving conditions are often good at any time of the year, but the best weather is usually experienced over summer, when the water is clear and warm. Most local divers use a 5 or 7 mm wetsuit, as the water temperature varies from 14-20¼C. The whole State is arid and dry, with the air temperature varying from 15-28¼C over summer and 6-16¼C during winter.
South Australian covers an area of 984,377 sq km, about the same size as the US State of Texas. The State was officially settled in 1936, when a small town was established on Kangaroo Island. The population has since grown to 1.4 million, most centred around the City of Adelaide, a stately city noted particularly for its colonial architecture and its parks and gardens. Mining and agriculture make up most of the States revenue. Wine production is a major industry, the Barossa Valley is famous for its wine varieties.
Some 250 National parks draw visitors to South Australia. The States natural attractions include the Flinders Ranges, which are some of the most ancient mountains on earth, containing many fossils; the Lake Eyre Basin – vast inland salt flats which flood every few years, and team with bird and fish life; the desolate Nullarbor Plain bordering the Great Australian Bight, riddled with underground caves containing clear water sinkholes and Aboriginal paintings; the 1500 million year-old Gawler Ranges, huge, granite monoliths, home to unique wildlife; and the numerous marsupial and bird species that inhabit Kangaroo Island.
Other attractions include the beaches, fishing, the Adelaide Arts Festival, opal mining at Coober Pedy, and the mighty Murray River, where visitors enjoy paddlewheel and house boat trips. The State promotes the natural beauty of the landscape, its history and culture, and steers away from theme parks and large resort developments. Tourism is a growing industry, worth almost A$2 billion to the economy each year.
Visitors to South Australia will find a wide range of accommodation available, and a good network of roads to most areas, although a 4WD is required to reach many of the more remote regions. Buses and trains service most of the State, and a number of State-based airlines offer flights from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. An increasing number of divers each year visit South Australias more than 3700 km of coastline, and hundreds of islands and reefs.
Neville Coleman's diving expeditions, fauna surveys, photographic fauna surveys and marine life identification courses include every major group of marine life.
Neville Coleman's expertise in marine life identification extends to the identification of Algae, Sea Grass, 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 and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters around South Australia.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)