Navy Pier

Div­ing spot to re­open to pub­lic

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Mar­lia Fat­nowna and Ali­cia Per­era

Ex­mouth’s internationally recog­nised div­ing spot the Navy Pier has re­opened to the pub­lic this week after be­ing closed for the past 18 months.

The pier, which has been de­scribed as “an aquar­ium with­out glass”, is rated among the top 10 shore-based dive sites in the world and has been re-opened after ex­ten­sive re­pairs, a rene­go­ti­a­tion of lease ar­range­ments, and changes to Aus­tralian De­fence Force reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern the fa­cil­ity.

The De­part­ment of De­fence, which owns the pier, closed it to the pub­lic in April, 2015 after it was dam­aged by Cy­clone Ol­wyn, one month after the pier’s div­ing op­er­a­tor lease had ex­pired.

The de­part­ment was con­sid­er­ing clos­ing the site for good after those cir­cum­stances as well as a change to the ADF Civil Use of De­fence Es­tate Man­ual that re­stricted pub­lic ac­cess to op­er­a­tional naval sites, un­til com­mu­nity mem­bers lob­bied for it to stay open be­cause of its im­por­tance as a tourist at­trac­tion.

Dive Nin­ga­loo has since been awarded the op­er­at­ing lease for div­ing tours at the pier and plans to of­fer dive trips for be­gin­ners through to ex­pe­ri­enced divers on a daily ba­sis.

The busi­ness is also con­sid­er­ing adding night dives from next year.

Dive Nin­ga­loo owner Kirsten Shep­pard said she was ex­cited to show­case the ex­tra­or­di­nary ma­rine life be­neath the pier again.

“Re­stricted ac­cess and a ban on fish­ing has meant the jetty is teem­ing with ma­rine life that grav­i­tates to the struc­ture for pro­tec­tion,” she said. “The bio­di­ver­sity for such a small area is in­cred­i­ble.”

The pier is home to 200 species of fish, in­clud­ing colour­ful reef fish such as coral trout, re­gal an­gelfish, moor­ish idols and ban­ner­fish, as well as moray eels, oc­to­pus, grop­ers and grey nurse sharks.

Ex­mouth Vis­i­tor Cen­tre gen­eral man­ager Kristy Bryan-Smith said the pier was an im­por­tant at­trac­tion for national and in­ter­na­tional divers.

“In­ter­est in div­ing the Ex­mouth Navy Pier has re­mained high even though tours have been un­avail­able for so long, which goes to show just what a well -renowned and pop­u­lar at­trac­tion this is for divers,” she said.

The T-shaped pier is 300m long, the cross-sec­tion at the end is 110m long, and the wa­ter depth is about 15m.

A diver with one of the gi­ant Queens­land grop­ers that live be­neath the Ex­mouth Navy Pier.

Pic­ture Blue Me­dia Pho­tog­ra­phy

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