Inexperienced scuba divers make me smile. I don’t know how many times I have heard them say I don’t want to dive Oak Park because I have dived it on my open water course so I know that site. Personally, I have dived Oak Park well over 1,000 times and I am discovering new things about it. It is such a massive dive site and it has so much to offer.
The Oak Park dive site at Cronulla, has fairly much any type of marine creature found around Sydney if you know where to look. The icon of the site is Gus the groper who is the model used on the Abyss Scuba Diving logo and one of the friendliest Blue Gropers in Sydney. Typically on most dives you will see Gus and a few of his brothers, big schools of yellow tails, giant cuttlefish and possibly even a seahorse and even Port Jackson Shark during the second half of the year.
Probably one of the things I like most about diving Oak Park is the large schools of yellow tail out the back of the third reef. These schools can be so big that you can fin constantly for 10 minutes and still be in the same school. There can be so many fish that your dive buddy could be 2-3m away and you can’t see each other because the fish are so prolific even though the visibility may be 10-15 meters. Although I love swimming through the yellow tail I must admit I get a feeling of ore when they are buzzed by a school of King Fish as they take their fill of the yellow tail.
Perhaps on of the most interesting group of creatures to be found are from the Syngnathidae family. One of the iconic creatures of the site is the giant seahorse which most beginner divers get to see and many even ride. The other three members of the family are firstly the potbelly seahorse which can normally found on the sea tulips around the rock pile. If you head out to the north side of “fish soup” past the Old Wife’s you can always find a number of weedy seadragons. The hardest creature to find is the pygmy pipehorse these can be found near the beginning of the dive. These little creatures are about the size of two grains of rice, the best way to see these tiny creatures is on a night dive and you find them by looking for the shine of their tiny eyes under torch light.
Some of the critters which tend to hide from the less observant divers include the Eastern Blue Devil fish which tends to hang out under ledges in the reef that overlooks the rock pile and turtles which are frequently found in the area north of the cave.
There are a number of creatures which are nomadic to the site. These include whales, dolphins and grey nurse sharks. You may be lucky enough to see any of these creatures on any of your dives at Oak Park.
For any level of experience of scuba diving, Oak Park is a massive sit with lots of places to dive and lots of things to see. Most people who have dived this site have just scratched the surface of the site. I have dive the site over 1,000 times but I am excited to think about the increase dive time a recreational rebreather is going to give me and I am keen to see what else this site offers.