Diving spot to reopen to public
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.
Picture Blue Media Photography