Diving in Tasmania

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Tasmania may not be at the top of the mind as a diving destination but there is actually marvellous and colourful biodiversity of aquatic life. Diving in Tasmania is different from diving in Australia’s northern states. There’s cold clear water, amazing kelp forests, cool aquatic critters and a destination divers would go in pursuit of rock lobster (crayfish). 

Diving in Tasmania 

When diving in Tasmania, I’d say you’d increasingly expect the unexpected.

Due to climate change, an increasing number of fish usually found in northern waters are making their way down south to Tasmania.

From my last dive in Tasmania, I recall the “wow” factor – crisp, clean, clear colour of a pristine coral reef.

Tasmania is attractive to cold-water divers who will be rewarded by its aquatic biodiversity.  

Visibility in Tassie’s dive sites ranges from 12m in summer to over 40m in winter so wetsuits are essential.

The unique species in the southern waters around Tasmania far exceeds that of the Great Barrier Reef.

Tasmania is also wide open for new discoveries, such as the recent discovery of a new population of extremely rare red handfish.

The opportunity to discover unseen and unrecorded species arriving in Tasmania’s waters adds an extra point of difference to any Tasmanian diving adventure.

diving tasmania
What to expect when diving Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
Tasmania diving
Diving in Tasmania is different to diving in other Australian states. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

What you will see while diving in Tasmania

Here are a few of the usual suspects you’re likely to bump into in the waters while diving around Tasmania.

1- Sea squirts and sponges

Bottom-dwelling sea squirts and sponges make Tasmania an inspiring and colourful place to dive.

diving in Tasmania
Diving in Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
diving tasmania
Diving Tasmania has the wow factor. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

2- Giant Kelp

Tasmania is one of a few places in the world where giant kelp flourish and the caves and drop-offs are covered with a carpet of southern jewel anemones.

dive tasmania
A diver explores a kelp forest on a Tasmania diving adventure.

3- Old wife

The “Old Wife”, a striking two dorsal fish that looks like an angelfish but croaks and grunts and carries on like an old wife.

It’s found nowhere else in the world (Brisbane would be the northern limits but most are found in the Southern Ocean).

4- Spotted handfish

Another is the spotted handfish, a rare fish on the Critically Endangered IUCN Red List.

The spotted handfish has pectoral fins that look like hands, which it uses to walk on the ocean floor.

It lives in the estuary of Derwent River and surrounding areas.

The spotted handfish is one of the unique aquatic fish found while diving Tasmania. Photo: ReefLifeSurvey.com



5- Long-snouted boarfish 

long snouted boarfish
One of the types of fish you’ll see while diving in Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania/Sharon de Villiers

Long-snouted boarfish like to seek shelter around caves and crevices. This type of fish can be territorial and might confront divers.

6- Weedy seadragon

Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

7- Spotted stingaree 

scuba diving tasmania
Here’s another thing you’ll see while diving in Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

The sparsely spotted stingaree is a compact bottom-dwelling fish that has a shark-like tail and small from the southern waters.

8- Ocellated sea star

scuba diving tasmania
A striking ocellated sea star is a delightful denizen of the ocean you’re likely to see while diving in Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

The ocellate sea star is a shellfish that is facing a threat from the Pacific sea star.

The Pacific sea star from Japanese waters has invaded its space, through being transported by ballast water on ships.

The Pacific sea star is like a kid in a lolly shop has gone berserk threatening other species.

9- Yellow Zoanthids 

scuba diving tasmania
Yellow Zoanthids are sea anemones seen on a Tasmania diving adventure. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

Yellow Zoanthids are sea anemones that look like dead man’s fingers when closed but when they are open they look like oversized coral polyps.

10- Rock lobster

Diving Tasmania
One of the critters you’ll see while scuba diving in Tasmania. Photo: Tourism Tasmania/ Sharon de Villiers

Where to go diving in Tasmania

1- Bicheno

Bicheno’s diving spots include Paradise Reef and Golden Bommies but most stunning of all are the gullies of Magic Garden in Governors Island Marine Reserve.

2- Maria Island

The waters around Maria Island offer excellent diving. Head for the Troy D, a former Hopper Barge sunk off the north-west tip of the island now an artificial reef full of marine life.

3- Bass Strait

Tasmania’s maritime history has left the island, particularly the Bass Strait near Flinders Island and King Island, with shipwrecks to explore.

4- North West Tasmania

The quartzite reefs at Rocky Cape and Boat Harbour are the main attraction for divers in northern Tasmania.

5-Tasman Peninsula and Hobart

Giant kelp forests, underwater caves and deep-water sponge gardens are the underwater attractions in the south.

Here, you’re just as likely to come face to face with rare fish species as you are with seals.

Not far from Hobart are the shipwrecks at the Betsey Island Ships’ Graveyard and the underwater trails of Tinderbox Marine Reserve.

There’s also exceptional diving off Bruny Island. Besides diving, there are plenty of things to do in Hobart such as one of these Hobart walking tours.

Book your Tasmania hotel here

More diving in Australia

Diving in Tasmania

Diving in Tasmania

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tony isaacson
As a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, AWARE shark conservation specialist and adventurer, I have dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet. I’ve logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world and have explored the depths of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. I’ve documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tahiti and the Galapagos Islands. I have been scuba diving since 1970 and have a Certificate IV in training and assessment. I am a registered teacher of marine studies since 1977. In 2002, I won the "Best School in Australia" for Marine Education and the BHP Science Prize for Marine Science Teaching. I was the inaugural President and a founding member of the Marine Life Society of South Australia. In 2013, I inspired Navy Clearance Diver and bull shark bite survivor, Paul de Gelder and a 60 Minutesfilm crew to dive with bull sharks at the Ultimate Shark Encounter in Fiji. I was a consultant on the making of documentaries on Leafy Seadragons (for Channel 9), The Great Barrier Reef (with Richard Fitzpatrick for the BBC) and filmed underwater footage in Indonesia and off the Queensland and New South Wales coasts for Travel2Next. Last year, I came nose-to-nose with a 4.5m tiger shark. Isolated from my diving buddy, the adult female swam directly towards me. I made sure I was vertical in the water and prepared to scream loudly, shove the camera, mounting and lights at the shark. Fortunately, I wasn’t destined to be on the menu that day! In July 2014, I will lead an international group of diving adventurers for big shark action, the sardine run and great white sharks from Durban to Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a great advocate for sharks, sustainability and ecotourism, and I regularly volunteer for Reef Check and Grey Nurse Shark Watch in Australia. Read more about my adventures on my blog DiveCareDare.