Andreas Modinger

Find out a bit about one of our Tasmanian Underwater Photography Weekend participants, Andreas Modinger. Andreas travelled to the Tasman Peninsula, all the way from Victoria to join us!

Andreas concentrating on one of his many subjects over the weekend.

Andreas, you’ve been diving for a while now, what got you in to diving?

I had a friend who was a commercial diver who actually got me interested in diving. Originally it was for crayfish and abalone but it quite quickly developed into just for the love of diving. Recently I just became a PADI Instructor because I now want to teach my kids who also want to see the world I keep showing them photos of.

The superb feather hydroid (Gymnangium superbum) is actually an animal! They’re relates to jellyfish, anemones and corals! Image: Andreas Modinger

What is is about underwater photography that you love the most?

The macro world always shows something different than what you see with your eye. This is why I love the closeup view of the aquatic world.

Some of the beautiful sponges that can be found deeper than 18 meters depth around the temperate waters of Tasmania. Image: Andreas Modinger

When asked what he liked most about the weekend, Andreas said he enjoyed having a full weekend to practice different types of shooting.  He also really loved the relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.  I think we can all agree, the second day was fantastic!

Feather stars like these (Comanthus trichoptera), are easily mistaken for a type of plant on Tasmanian reef systems. Image: Andreas Modinger

Andreas shoots these stunning images with an Olympus TG-5 with Ikelite housing and optically connected Olympus strobe. Check out more of Andreas’ awesome shots on his Instagram page: instagram.com/andreas_diving

These yellow zoanthids (Parazoanthus sp.) cover large swathes of rocky overhangs, and are extremely fascinating to watch. Image: Andreas Modinger

Tasmania’s Inaugural Women’s Dive Day, 2019

About five years ago, PADI created the PADI Women’s Dive Day. This event was created to provide a day where divers could get together and talk about diving, go diving, and support other women who might be intimidated by the rather male dominated sport. Since its inception, it has grown to massive proportions, and it is possible we are seeing the effects in sports diving. The ratio of female to male divers has increased from 35:65 to 40:60 over the last five years. This year, there were more than 770 events, across 83 countries, and our event in Tasmania was one of those!

The beautiful Tasman Peninsula, home to some of the best diving in Australia, and most likely the world

We arrived on a beautiful, crisp, winters morning, at the dive lodge on the Tasman Peninsula. As every one began to arrive, the mood in the room began to relax as people got to know each other, and start talking about all the fantastic diving things they had done, or hoped to do. It is one of the many things I love about diving. People from many different backgrounds can find a common interest in a fascinating and beautiful sport. Life long friendships form, based solely on two peoples love of diving!

Our dive for the day was at Safety Cove, in Port Arthur. This nice shore dive is a great place for people to get back in to diving, as it is a reasonably easy shore entry, with a gently sloping bottom, and plenty of reef life to watch. We found colorful rock lobsters, schools of juvenile fish, even a pretty nudibranch. We were also lucky with the visibility, around 15 meters on some parts of the reef!

All those happy faces!!! Image: Ryan Hasson

After the dive, we headed back to the lodge for a barbecue, and a hilariously difficult quiz (I think we learnt never to ask me to write quizzes). I could tell by the end of the day, we had motivated these women to dive more, and get more of their friends in to diving. I have had a few people ask me, “why do we need a specific, Women’s Dive Day?” My answer always is the same. We need as many ocean stewards as we can possibly create. To do this, we need to have any way possible to encourage divers in the water, regardless of gender, race or disability. I know, because of this one day, there are at least eight more extremely motivated divers out there, fighting for the preservation of the ocean. Which is what we need!

Needless to say, I am already planning our event for Women’s Dive Day, 2020. Hopefully we will make it even bigger and better! If there is something you would like to do for next years event, please leave a comment below, or contact me directly!

A successful PADI Women’s Dive Day, 2019. Image: Aaron Colles

Diving in to Bicheno – Combined Dive Clubs Weekend, 2019

For a lot of Tasmanian divers, there is one event that is always on the calendar, Tasmanian Combined Dive Clubs Weekend (CCW). It is held every year, in the sleepy, East Coast town of Bicheno on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, for the last 15 years.

Beautiful sunsets of Bicheno get me every time.

For me, it always starts the same way, finish work, pack the car faster than light speed, then drive 2.5-3 hours in the dark, along the windy, coastal highway, attempting to avoid the suicidal native wildlife. The car, the company and all the dive gear have managed to make it every year, for the last 5 years, thankfully.

Arriving in Bicheno, and our first stop is the local fish shop down at the boat ramp. Yarns are told, new and old divers alike are greeted and a few rough dive plans mooted for the next morning. We stroll along the road, back to our accommodation, being serenaded by the nesting penguins.

We awake to a beautiful, crisp Bicheno winters morning. The sun is shining, wind is barely a whisper and the sea is calm. A couple of the hard-core interstaters were at the ramp at 6am for a dawn dive, return with tales of 15 meters + visibility! Its going to be a good one.

Being a long weekend, boats, big and small are everywhere! However, it is a big coast, and most fishermen head offshore, and away from the marine reserve, where we prefer to dive. Dolphins playfully join us as we leave the boat ramp, heading towards the marine reserve. We kill the boat motors and the dolphins do laps around the boat, showing off their lithe and skillful manoeuvres.

Down at 30 meters, just outside there reserve sat this stunning sea whip completely encrusted in pink jewel anemones (Corynactis viridis)!

The 45 minutes in the blue never quite seems to give us enough time to explore the great diversity of dive sites the East coast of Tasmania, and in particular, Bicheno, have to offer. Once we are past 20 meters depth, the kelp beds begin to thin out, making space for the beautiful and complex variety of sponges, sea whips and other incredible invertebrate species. And the colors. I’m eternally in wonder with the colors the deeper sites of Tasmania have to offer. The massive, room sized boulders give the appearance of huge sea monsters, covered in sea whips, long, white and gently swaying with any remnant surge.

Hundreds of pink butterfly perch, move in synchronicity and are more interested than afraid of the two ridiculous, neoprene and steel shapes moving through them. They flit and turn together, collecting little morsels from the water column. In the Governor Island Marine Reserve, the large rock lobsters know they’re safe, and the vibrant, large red and yellow animals stroll across the boulder littered sea floor with very few cares in the world.

If you look closely, you can even see one or two of the parazooanthids wiping their tentacles across their “mouth”.

Heading back to the surface, we come to the region that is dominated by golden parazooanthids. Weird, tubelike creatures, that end in delicate tentacles. these beautiful colonial animals cover swathes of rock bommies, leading to the aptly named dive site, Golden Bommies. The butterfly perch follow and watch us, still eating in their peculiar little way.

Slightly shallower again, the kelp begins to return, as do swathes of bryozoans (colonial animals that look like plants), yellow sponges, and my all time favorites, sea spiders and nudibranchs. A macro photographers heaven. It’s a good thing our bottom time is considerable longer at this depth, I easily spend 10 minutes harassing one particularly photogenic nudibranch or a group of sea spiders huddling together.

One of my favorite “little things” to see on a dive, a sea spider. This one has a stash of eggs on its underside!

Our time is almost up, but there is one last favorite bit of diving in Bicheno. That 5 minutes between deploying the surface marker buoy (smb) and breaking the surface is not to be ignored. It is the chance to have a candid view in to this underwater playground. The wrasse play hide-and-seek in the surge and kelp, leather jackets, who look like they’ve had a little too much to drink, try to defend their territory from other, faster fish, and the pike school hurriedly through the melee to rush off as one. A rock lobster, surveys his little hidey hole, and shuffles a little further in to the open.

We break the surface, and chill on the surface like the nearby seal, sunning its self. The boat comes and picks us up, and we quite literally sail in to the most stunning, pastel hued sunset. The sky is still highly colored an hour later as we sit on our balcony drinking a quiet beer.

We wash down, pack up, eat cheese, tell a yarn and listen to the evening presentations. The latest research on the invasive urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii), scientific and cave diving talks as well as a stunning video from the Our World Underwater Scholar from 2018. The weekend is finished with Dr Harry (Thai cave rescue, not the vet…) giving an incredible, down to earth talk about his experiences.

The winding road, rain slicked windows, and some tunes carry us gently home. Mother nature smiled on us, this time round, sun, no wind, no rain, and 15-25 meter visibility. Bring on winter diving!!!

Dive Site Review – Blackmans Bay South, Tasmania

Dive site map of Blackmans Bay South

Fifteen minutes south of Hobart CBD (Tasmania) is a fantastic little shore dive, located at the south end of Blackmans Bay beach.  If you love sea horses, stingarees and draughtboard sharks and giant kelp, then this site has to be on your Tasmanian dive bucket list.  Due to its shallow depth it is easy to spend an hour or more exploring this beautiful dive site.

Lots of these seahorses can be found in the shallows of the dive site at Blackmans Bay South.

Entry is off the end of Ocean Esplanade.  There is easy parking with a grass area for you to set up your dive gear.  Once set up, there are two entry options (see the map).  Entry #1 is a short 150 meter walk down on to the beach.  This will give you plenty of time in the water to get set up as
the depth is quite shallow for about 200 meters from this point (~2-3m), but, keep your eyes open, this is where you’re most likely to find the pot-bellied seahorses (Hippocampus bleekeri).  Entry #2 is a longer 350 meter walk along the Boronia Beach Track, and then a short scrabble along the sandstone rocks.  I advise caution when using this entry, as the rocks can sometimes be quite slippery.  However, this is a great entry if you are interested in getting past the eastern point and around in to the giant kelp forest.  The jutting walls on the east point of the dive site are

Biscuit star and jewel anemones that can be found on the walls of the eastern end of Blackmans Bay, Tasmania

encrusted in stunning jewel anemones, and there are always a fair few draughtboard sharks (Cephaloscyllium laticeps) sleeping in cracks or under some weed.

Even in average visibility, this site can be a photographers dream, with plenty of fish and sharks to keep a diver happy for well over an hour!

Parking: 90 degree parking at the end of Ocean Esplanade

Amenities: Public toilet about 700m north of the dive site, on Ocean Esplanade

Depth range: max 10 meters

Visibility: As this site is in the Derwent, it can vary from 2-10 meters