See Sydney's dragon in real life

19 Apr

SEE SYDNEY’S DRAGON IN REAL LIFE  You don’t need to drive 500 kilometres out of the city or spend one thousands bucks to experience something unique and Australian. You just need to look around Sydney a little more closely.

Many locals don’t realise Sydney is home to a special species that is closely related to the sea horse, known as weedy sea dragons. They are only found in south and south-east Australia and are one of the most elaborately camouflaged creatures in the world. Weedy sea dragons, or “weedies”, grow up to around 45 centimetres long, they have long, thin snouts, slim tails and tiny transparent fins that are used for steering. They are sometimes difficult to find because, unlike their sea horse relative that wraps its tail around nets and easy-to-find objects, weedies slowly drift along with the current just like seaweed. However, if you scan the ocean bed closely with a torch, they reflect stunning crimson and sapphire colours.

I found three weedies during the weekend at Inscription Point dive site (also known as The Steps) at Kurnell in south Sydney. With a maximum depth of only 15 metres, it’s easy even for beginners to explore. The dive takes you on a journey through a field of large boulders and sponge gardens with blue gropers, bullseyes and shrimp hiding in the shadows. Around 20 metres directly off shore, the boulders and sponge gardens give way to a sandy ocean bed, and that is exactly where weedies are found; along the edge of the reef, often floating between kelp and boulders.

Sydney diving enthusiast, Michael McFadyen, provides detailed instructions for diving Inscription Point at the following website: http://www.michaelmcfadyenscuba.info/news.php

Learn to dive

Shiprock Dive is only ten minutes drive from Kurnell and offers the PADI Open Water Diver course from $359 (April 2010). The course fees include resources for theory (book or CD-ROM), one pool session and four open water dives (on weekends or during the week). Shiprock Dive also offers competitively priced gear hire for casual divers. Visit the Shiprock Dive website, at http://www.shiprockdive.com.au/

Additional dive centres in the south Sydney region include: Pro Dive Cronulla and Aquatic Explorers.

By Marissa Toohey


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