Diving Forster – Sharks, Whales, and the Biggest Turtle in the World!

In the spirit of making the most of our downtime, Sharon and I found ourselves on a boat with the crew from Forster Dive Centre for our first ever dive in Forster. As luck would have it, Sharon and I were the only customers for the day and so we had the boat to ourselves, along with the skipper, instructor, and 2 divemasters in training who were keen to brush up their deep dive skills, including working on the lift bag and knots.

We hit the jackpot with the weather. There was not a breath of wind and the water was like glass. There were a scattering of clouds in the sky, otherwise the sun was out in full force.

On our journey out to the dive site we were greeted by the impressive sight of multiple whales. But the real show-stopper was a pair of whales who surfaced right next to us just as we were kitting up at the Pinnacle. One even gave a casual flick of its tail, as if saying hello, before vanishing beneath the surface. That certainly set the tone for what was going to be a great day.

The first dive took us down to the stunning Pinnacle, renowned for its large pelagic visitors in depths of 30 – 40 meters. Secretly I was hoping for a hammerhead sighting, or to spot the whales we’d seen on the surface.

After descending through a strong current, we hung at around at 28 meters, sitting on the top of the wall. The water was a cool 17 degrees, but the clarity and the deep blue hues more than compensated for the chill. Visibility was a glorious 15 meters, making for a magical underwater experience. Being deep, we enjoyed a relatively brief but utterly fascinating dive, spotting numerous wobbegongs, Port Jackson sharks, and some of the largest crayfish I’ve ever seen, chilling out in plain sight, somehow knowing they were in no danger of being caught at 40 meters.

I had to shallow up earlier than the others due to my more conservative computer. As I was suspended in the blue, something large appeared out of the blue. Initially, I thought it was a small shark, but as it moved closer I realised kingfish. It was nearly the size of me, and I was left wondering what it would be like to hook a beast like that. It was impressive to say the least.

Following a relaxed surface interval including soup, rolls, and coffee, we headed for Latitude Rock.

Latitude Rock proved to be a shallower dive, averaging 16 meters. Visibility wasn’t nearly as good, probably around 8 meters, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. The dive site was a rock reef resting on a sandy bottom. Before long, we were in the company of numerous grey nurse sharks. They commanded our attention for a while before we moved on to eels, schooling fish, and delightfully colourful nudibranchs.

Sharon’s keen eye then spotted a small turtle which we followed for some time. Later in the dive, just before heading back to the boat, we came across another turtle, but this one was massive! It could easily have been mistaken for a Volkswagen Beetle, but in reality was probably closer to a large dining room table. We hung around the sleeping giant for a while, but it seemed to have settled in for a long nap, so we moved on to enjoy a few more shark sightings before heading back to the anchor.

The divemasters in training seized the opportunity to practice their knots and lift bag skills, sending the anchor back up to the boat. We then started the scenic 20 minute boat ride back to Forster and the Coolongolook River. We tried to find a few baby dolphins which had been seen in the area, but we were out of luck. That said, the water was crystal clear, and the ride back was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Back at the dive shop, we rinsed our gear and said our goodbyes. It was a great day out, and I can highly recommendation Forster Dive Centre. Diving in Forster was an absolute treat, and I look forward to heading back in the future.

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