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Exmouth

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Currently, the navy pier concession is with Ninga ...

Currently, the navy pier concession is with Ningaloo Whaleshark-N-Dive. We (2 PADI OWD, 80 dives each) dived with them this Sept. Our guides Red and James did a very good job at briefing us, taking their time to explain the dive site, how the dive will be done (50min max.), and answering our questions. Good briefing is necessary since the concession can be (and in fact is) easily revoked by the US Navy if things are not done to their liking. They seem to take the pier dives very seriously, and the newest rental equipment is reserved for the pier only. Since the pier is a military facility, things work somewhat more bureaucratic: you need to have a valid ID with you, and the name printed on it must match exactly that on the roaster you signed up on. Luckily, your PADI card is now accepted as an ID. And of course, one of the divers had forgotten his at the hotel which required a detour for everybody. We were greeted at the Pier entry by a grumpy soldier but he left us in peace after checking our IDs. ´Not a very good day for diving, what?´, he smiled. ´Well, that´s a very nice way to make our customers feel comfortable´, our guide aptly replied. And in we went.

For those of you who don´t already know: The pier was built to land huge metal structures that were assembled into 13 towers, the biggest 307m high, to hold coils emitting high-power ultra-low frequency radiation for global submarine communication. Water for cooling of this device is taken from the ocean and dumped near the pier, so a warm shower after the safety stop is provided for the more daring among you (not recommended). Occasionally, a ship docks at the pier for maintenance, which means that this part can not be dived and entry into the water is not via the shotline at the end of the pier but from shore (a 100m swim). When we dived, a ship was expected but hadn´t arrived yet, but we were still not allowed on the pier. Since the water was rough, the swim out through the surf was hard. Visibility was only 5m and the descent was difficult for me because the swell pushes you towards the pylons. During the dive, we saw much of what was posted here already. Our guides called the pier a FAD (fish attraction device) with the BFG (big friendly grouper) as a main attraction. They do like to touch things, especially the BFG (although when harassed it apparently has sent people to hospital). Personally, I don´t like it when fish are touched, but then our guide also swam after and retrieved a sea snake that I would otherwise have missed. It may not have been the best weather for diving but the team from the dive shop did everything right and made it a worthwhile and interesting experience.
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