How have the 2022 Floods impacted clarity and visibility?
This has been the question on everybody’s lips – after flooding through NSW and QLD, what has the visiblity been like? And the short answer would be – not bad. There has been a lot more at play that has influenced the visibility, so if you want to find out more details, read on.
What the floods meant for us
The East Australian Floods of 2022 had a major affect on many people’s lives and many businesses in Australia. During the heavy rainfall and floods we were unable to operate our boats because of the wind and swell. Rain (in “normal” amounts) doesn’t often affect our boats as we have a roof on both boats, and when scuba diving you are getting wet anyway. However, the wind and swell that comes along with heavy rain often does affect our operations.
Once we had passed the point of Coffs Harbour’s worst rainfall, the rough sea conditions continued to affect us. Our boats didn’t run for 2 weeks and 3 days straight during the period from the start of the floods to mid March.
After a bad summer season 2021-2022 from both COVID19 outbreaks, and the crazy weather systems we have experienced this year (tropical cyclone tiffany in early January, and tsunami warning due to Tongan Island Earthquake mid January, amongst east coast lows, and the overall weather conditions of La Niña), and coming off a challenging 2 years through COVID19, these weeks of extreme rain were well and truly not welcome. We are very thankful to be able to continue operating after these events, but it has been a very, very challenging year.
Thankfully, after the rain, the Easter long weekend’s conditions improved enough for us to get our boats out. From here we observed how the rain had affected visibility at the Solitary Islands.
So… how’s the vis?
It has been up and down, which is always the case at the Solitary Islands in Coffs Harbour. We don’t have a “good” and “bad” season, visibility can vary from 5m – 40m+ for us. I’ve put together some statistics on what the visibility has been like over the months since the floods.
The first day we got out diving was the 12th of March, in which visibility was 5-7m. This is the most we noticed the floods affecting our visibility. It was consistent at this level until the 18th of March when it got better, hitting 10-12m. It improved again for our last dive of this month on the 24th of March, hitting 10-15m.
Our first dives in April were the 5th and 6th, where our visibility was from 5-15m. The higher end of this dropped on the 11th, sitting us at 5m vis. It increased slightly for the 15th, at 8-12m vis, but dropped overnight at 3-10m on the 16th of April – the worst of the whole month. On the 17th of April visibility was 12-15m, dropping slightly at 8-10m on the 18th, and dropping again for 6-10m on the 19th. For the remainder of the month, visibility was gorgeous, not dropping below 10m. On the 20th it was 10-15m, improving overnight for 10-18m on the 21st. It was a lovely 18-20m on the 25th. On the 29th we saw 10-18m, and at the close of the month we had 10-15m.
Starting May out, we had 10-18m vis on the 6th, carrying over from our lovely end of April. On the 7th this improved to 15-20m, which held up at a solid 20m for the 8th of May. On the 9th we peaked at a gorgeous 25m. This dropped to 5-10m for the 15th through 18th of May, improving slightly to 10-15m for the 25th and 26th of May. On the 28th of May we had a drop, with visibility sitting at 8-10m, and the 29th at 5-8m.
As noted in these paragraphs, we haven’t really noticed much difference in visibility. It has peaked at gorgeous and clear 25m, and dropped to 5m afterwards, which is something that hapens to us year round. Really – the visibility has not been the issue.
Why is the visibility usually a range?
We provide the visibility report in a range, as we often go to more than one dive site. As we are trying to get the best dive for you, if the visibility isn’t good we will swap sites (as conditions allow) to see if it’s better elsewhere. As South Solitary is an island, the tides and currents affect the sides differently. If it’s bad vis on the top end, for instance, it may be better somewhere else. The range we provide is the range experienced between sites.
Alternatively, sometimes when we are diving the visibility changes throughout the dive. This range also allows for that.
Why does the visibility vary so much in Coffs Harbour?
This is a bit more of a complex question, that relates closely to the wind direction. The East Australian Current runs on the edges of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, and the different directions of wind can influence whether we have warm, clear, blue water from up north, or colder, greener water coming from the south.
The main reason we target South Solitary Island as our main island is that it sits further off the coast, closer to the East Australian Current, meaning generally it has better visibility.
So this means inconsistent visiblity for the Solitary Islands Marine Park. It’s not all bad, though! This variety is why we get the tropical fish and corals from up north mixed with more southern, pelagic fish, Grey Nurse Sharks, and other temperate species. This blend is what makes the Solitary Islands spectacular, and we wouldn’t change it, even if we could.
So if it’s not the rain, what has affected Jetty Dive?
A simple answer is the winds and sea conditions brought on by La Niña. La Niña is a weather pattern that has brought the wet weather to the East Coast of Australia. The rain of this weather pattern has not really affected us, but the associated wind and sea conditions have. This weather pattern has affected us much more frequently, and far longer, than the 2022 floods.
So in short, the floods have not greatly affected us. But we have been greatly affected by the weather.
As a concluding note, we’re super thankful for everybody who has supported us over the past few difficult years. We appreciate you!
About the Author
Tara is Jetty Dive’s Office Manager and IT Lady, Social Media Queen, Crazy-Fish-Lady, and as she likes to say – “Self-Appointed CEO”. You’ll find her sitting at her desk surrounded in pink, but happiest either on or under the water.