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Winter diving at Rottnest Island

written by Ben Newsome – GoPro Guru & Perth Scuba Shop Squid

Although it may be somewhat colder in the waters of Rottnest island over the winter months, there is much more on offer than one may think, with a noticeable decrease in plankton over the winter. The visibility can often exceed 25 meters when the sun is shining exposing Rottnest islands stunning over hangs, walls, caves and swim throughs making it the place to be on the weekend!

I would have done around 40 dives at Rotto last year over the winter months, I’m pleased to say that the majority of the dives I did the visibility was over the 15 meter mark and the swell was easy to manage. 2012 at the moment seems to be the year to dive at Rotto, out of the 12 dives at Rotto I have done this year since the beginning of June, there has been only one occasion where the visibility was under 10 meters courtesy of a 4 meter swell earlier in the week. A few weeks before this we had two days in a row where the vis was sitting on the 20 meter mark rivalling dive destinations such as Thailand and Bali. Not a bad outcome considering Rottnest is only 45 minutes away from Perth.

Rottnest has hundreds of dive sites some of the ones that have taken my fancy are Crystal palace, west patch (shark cave), swirl and roe reef,  salmon bay wall and Jackson rock. Dive sites like swirl reef and crystal palace where you descend straight into cave and swim through systems where different  tunnels and pathways branch out across the reef.  Rottnest is ideal in the winter months for the photographers out there because the amount of particles in the water is greatly reduced. The aquatic life is always as abundant as it is in summer, we have seen all the usual underwater critters over the past few weeks including the occasional lionfish, turtle and grey nurse shark. The caves at Rotto are my favourite part with the silhouettes of bullseyes  against the light and the wobby’s that lay camouflaged against the seabed.

The thing that obviously makes people hesitant about entering the water in the winter is the cold, last year I dived in a 5mm wetsuit with a sharkskin and a 3mm hood vest underneath.  I thought I was toasty until this year when I shown the real definition of being warm under the water. I managed to pick up an everdry 4 drysuit for a bargain here at the shop, there is honestly nothing greater than coming up from a dive and being completely dry. While your diving it doesn’t feel any different to when you dive with a wetsuit or a semidry and adjusting to it is no problem, after a dive in the pool or a shore dive you’ll be ready to hit the mighty Rottnest!. If really do suffer from the cold and you don’t have the spare cash to get a drysuit, why not try out a semi dry? For half the price this is also a great option if you still want to dive Rotto in the winter.

In conclusion, I much prefer diving Rottnest Island in the winter the water is so much more clear and tranquil, if you hate the cold I recommend getting a semi dry, drysuit or at least something that keeps you comfortably warm this way you aren’t missing out on what everyone agrees as being the best diving of the year…



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