Tasmania attractions – Cool aquatic critters

Tasmania attractions – Cool aquatic critters

aquatic critters
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

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

Tasmania attractions
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
handfish
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

tasmania attractions

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

It’s 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.

Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
Tasmania attractions
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
scuba diving tasmania
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

Marine ecosystem

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

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

One example is the “Old Wife”, a striking two dorsal fish that looks like an angel fish 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).

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.

handfish
Photo: ReefLifeSurvey.com

 

There’s the long-snouted boar fish and the weedy sea dragon. But Tasmania is also wide open for new discoveries and there are unseen and unrecorded species arriving in Tasmania’s waters. This adds an extra point of difference to any dive.

handfish
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers
handfish
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sharon de Villiers

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

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

tasmania attractions
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.

tasmania attractions
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.

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.

Discover Tasmania

Visibility in Tassie’s dive sites ranges from 12m in summer to over 40m in winter. Wetsuits are essential. For more ideas on what to do while visiting Tasmania see www.discovertasmania.com.au 

Have you considered tackling the Yongala dive? It’s a fabulous adventure for experienced divers.

 

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