UNDERWATER PHOTOS AT THE SS YONGALA
Descending onto one of Australia’s greatest maritime graveyards can be a little eerie. Our object for the day was to obtain beautiful underwater photos at the wreck of the SS Yongala. A wreckage teaming with life both big and small, one has a hard time deciding just where to look and where to point the camera lens. This past Saturday, diving with Adrenalin Dive, held little current for our first dive, although it did pick up throughout the dive and prove to be somewhat challenging on the second.
Beginning our dive on the bow, we were consumed by many fish the likes of cod, grouper and giant trevally to name a few. Circling around the bottom of the bow, we were welcomed by a school of spangled emperor fish as we made our way to the hull side of the boat. Upon moving up the hull we were greeted by a wide mouthed codfish enjoying the benefits of the many cleaner fish that inhabit the wreck. Making our way to mid-ships, we stopped to take a few underwater photos of a resident tawny nurse shark resting on a ledge. On the way to the stern, I followed a six-banded angelfish, whose dazzling colours enamour any camera lens. Capturing an underwater photo of these beautiful fish can be quite a challenge, their speed and reticence making it difficult to capture a head on shot. I was, however, lucky enough to capture a good side shot this dive, and consider it one of the better underwater photos I’ve taken at the SS Yongala.
Upon arriving back at the bow of the ship, nearing our time to ascend to the surface, my buddy lightly tugged at my fin and I looked down to see a huge moray eel, peaking its head out of the ship. I recognized him right away, being a regular inhabitant who usually lies in a different part of the wreck. He is a massive eel, having no problem finding an array of food and nutrients at the site of the SS Yongala. I spent a few minutes with him, trying to capture just the right underwater photo, before I was distracted by an active olive sea snake that swam by. I followed the snake, feverously making an attempt to capture a photo of the alluring creature that it is. It continued to poke its head in and out of the ship, playing a game of hide and seek with my camera lens. I was able to capture one descent underwater shot of this guy, but look forward to many future endeavours to use him as an underwater model.
Our second dive proved to be more active, as with stronger current comes more fish life. About halfway along the deck side, the tawny nurse shark came swimming out right in front of us, rolling over onto its back to give it a scratch in the sand. Spotting a giant puffer fish, lionfish and a couple of agile nudibranchs on our way to the stern, taking underwater photos along the way, we spotted a few bull rays as well. We turned and headed back towards the bow, only to be greeted by a free swimming guitar shark, gracefully making its way along the ship. They are more active at this time of year, as the water warms up and creates a change in the diversity of marine life that can be found at the wreck of the SS Yongala.
It was a beautiful day on and under the water; with nearly no swell and warming water temperatures up to 26 degrees centigrade. I was able to capture many underwater photos at my favourite dive site, the SS Yongala, and look forward to my expeditious return.