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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 00:16

Dust off your dive gear…warmer waters are on the way!

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The most common question in our store at the moment (other than how can I learn to dive?) is what is the water temperature??

For more than 10 years we have lived by the seasons and tracked the air and water temperatures, seasonally we see some divers continuing their diving throughout our cooler months to enjoy some amazing visibility and nice peaceful dive sites. It is also common for some divers to hibernate once the temps drop below 16c, holiday in tropical destinations during the middle of the year and jump back in local waters for a refresher dive at the start of Spring.

Statistically we see divers that learn to dive throughout the Winter can be more likely to invest in their own exposure protection gear and often go on to be all year round divers! Although, there is nothing like the rush and excited vibe that comes from working in a busy dive shop in the summer, the wide eyed and newly certified students and the existing divers enjoying their favourite hobby with friends. We love that South Australian waters enjoy such a large water temperature variation from 11c or 12c in the Winter to up to 24c in the peak of the Summer season, in part this allows for our diverse and unique marine life to thrive.

What drives these changing temperatures? In the gulfs, water temperatures are partially related to atmospheric heating, so warm temperatures on land are associated with warmer waters in the gulfs. Seasonal warming in summer and cooling in winter is seen in both gulfs of Southern Australia. We don’t always see a drastic rise come September 1st but on the upside the warmer waters can continue well into the later months of Autumn where we see can on occasion water temperatures above the air temperature. Offshore SA waters become warmer in the summer when eastward moving water from the Great Australia Bight is heated by the atmosphere. So in winter when the sun is in the Northern Hemisphere there is a greatly reduced energy input and therefore temperatures are lower than in summer.

The same applies to seasonal sea temperature changes all over the world, but local currents and winds also play an important role. Australia’s eastern seaboard, for example, is predominantly influenced by the East Australian Current (the EAC is the current Nemo rides with the turtles in Finding Nemo!), which flows from the South Equatorial Current.

In Southern Australia warm waters come from the Leuwinn Current, it is a warm ocean current which flows southwards near the western coast of Australia. It rounds Cape Leuwinn (then turning into the ‘South Australian’ current) to enter the waters South of Australia where its influence extends as far as Tasmania where it is then known as the Zeehan current. Its flow is less that the EAC but its impact still significant in South Australia, it is actually the world’s longest continual coastal current.

It brings warm tropical water to Western Australia, raising the ocean temperatures several degrees more than would otherwise be experienced (even in Winter). The current is responsible for the transportation of tropical species south along the West Australian coastline and further east around the corner and into the waters of South Australia. For example, it allows for a number of WA’s most southern coral reefs and its the reason Loggerhead Turtles, Green Turtles and Hawksbills can sometimes make their way down to SA to visit us on our dive sites!!

Occasionally we see some more tropical treasures pop up on our dives…..keep an eye out for small thresher and hammerhead sharks, turtles, mola mola, Sea snakes, blue dragons and much more! We are currently experiencing recorded dive temperatures of 15+ (surface temperatures higher) and over the next 2 months we will see a gradual increase. With the right exposure protection suits and accessories SA waters can be comfortably dived all year round, if you are looking to get out on a dive to experience it yourself or would like to know what to expect give us a call, we are open 7 days and will be diving most days of the week this season and tracking the temperatures.