Shark Point

After spending many months putting together the map of Bare Island, and learning on the way, I asked the diving community of VIZ which site should be next. Shark Point came up as one of the best one to map, mostly due to its extension combined with the limited opportunities to dive it frequently because of the exposed entry point.

From my perspective mapping it was an easy task having a sea scooter and being able to entry/exit from Clovelly Pool without the limitations of the entry point from the rock shelf. With 5 dives with the usual equipment (scooter, 360 camera, GPS, watch, depth meter), between March and June 2021, I collected enough data to draw a first version of the map. I am not totally convinced by the aesthetic result, will try to make it better, but the information is there.

In its simplest description, it's a sloping reef with terraces separated by walls, but in many points the distinction is not that clear. Here and there flat sandy areas following the pattern of the terraces.

As always, it's critical to be supported by local expertise because with my 5 dives I can put together a map but I am nowhere an expert of the site nor I have witnessed it in difference conditions. To this point, a huge thanks to Russ Jones for his proactive support in helping put together this map and in providing the practical safety information coming from years of diving this site.

I hope this resource (map and safety tips) gives you a chance to explore it more.

The high definition file can be downloaded here: PDF (recommended) or JPG

The structure of the site can be summarized into 3 terraces. By the way, all the depth on this page are normalized to zero tide, so the actual depth is 20-200 cm more (click to enlarge)

The entry point (click to enlarge)

EXPANd here for a dive site description

SAFETY TIPS

Shark Point is an interesting site, but it can be dangerous in a number of ways - if not carefully planned and without an appropriate level of experience and fitness. Also, it is strongly recommended to be guided by someone knowledgeable of the site, at least for a couple of dives. This map is intended to be a support in planning, and not a substitute of the above.

We can enjoy one of Sydney’s most rewarding and amazing shore dives, however there are many confluent variables and factors that must be taken into consideration.

SAFE ENTRY

The best point of entry is as indicated in the map, just to the east of the north – south small crack on the floor of the rock shelf. It allows divers to start the dive in a central location without swimming too far. Being exposed to the N and NE ocean swell, this entry point is often unsafe. Always check and judge the safety before entering the ocean.

As a general rule:

  1. Conditions are only ok if the current swell is less than 1.5 m as measured by the Botany Bay Offshore buoy.

  2. Never attempt the entry when the current tide level is above 1.0 m. You can forecast this using the Seabreeze app or website.

  3. It is recommended you enter in a rising tide. Swimming / kicking back into the Clovelly Pool with heavy dive equipment, is of greater difficulty in a falling tide due to the volume of water exiting through the narrow gap.

The best point of entry is as indicated on the map, near the crack (on the ground) in the rock shelf. There is a triangle-shaped lower ledge that you step down into. Here you quickly put on your fins. Directly below the triangle is a submerged rock. The rock is clearly visible when entering at the recommended tide height level. After placing on your fins, wait for a wave to wash in, and jump in at the wave crest, in order to be dragged out into the ocean with the surge. You can easily jump in, to your right, missing the submerged rock.

Swim out (on your back) for at least 30 m in a SE direction (looking back up into The Split), meet your dive buddies, and descend together, following the Split.

Please note:

  • If the tide is higher than 1.0 m the Shark Point reef platform can become flooded with ocean waves.

  • Dive entry is safer on a S to E swell. A N to NE swell exposes the entry point and The Split.

SAFE EXIT

Exiting on the Shark Point reef platform (rocks) is dangerous. The best option is to swim into Clovelly Pool and exit using one of the stairs. Please be aware that scuba diving in Clovelly Pool is not permitted between 01/10 and 30/04. I have been reprimanded by a professional lifeguard for even snorkeling into the pool on my return from a scuba dive at Shark Point. The same person also oddly suggested to exit at the stairs closest to the entrance regardless (if in that moment in time they were being hit by strong swell and totally unsafe even for a swimmer without gear).

To exit at Clovelly Pool you need to plan for a long swim from the dive site. From the "Split" to the entrance of Clovelly, the most direct route is 400 meters (if you don't get lost). Just as a reference: at my normal cruise (kicking) speed of 25 m/min it takes 16 mins of continuous finning.

The best strategy is to plan in reaching the southernmost point of the planned itinerary towards the end of the dive. The "Hook" is a good reference point as it's quite distinctive and from there if you head to magnetic West after 300m you will find yourself in front of the Clovelly Pool entrance. At my average cruise (kicking) speed it takes me 12 mins. From the Hook, the bottom will quickly raise to 7 meters so a swim back at an air-saving 5 meters of depth is easily doable, and will count as safety stop.

In summary, get to The Hook with about 80 BAR remaining and then aim due West. Be aware that it's a long swim and you need to be fit and not prone to cramps. Check the compass for not going any lower than 270 degrees or you will end up towards Gordons Bay. Also ensure you don’t head too far north and enter into the False Bay area. There is an underwater shelf creating a false bay of which the surge can suck you into the bay, and throw you up back onto the Shark Point reef platform. Remember, we are divers, not reef surfers!

When entering Clovelly Pool, be aware that depending on tide there can be an inbound/outbound flow of water. Best to return in incoming tide. At the opposite it can be tricky entering into the pool with the water flowing out (especially at the edge of the pool where the rocks are 1 m or less from the surface), thus increasing the speed due to the Venturi effect.

GETTING AROUND

The bathymetry of the site can be simplified in 3 terraces as depicted in the image above: less than 10m, 10-15m and 15-24m (all the depth readings are measured at zero tide).

For an experienced diver who is reasonable on air consumption - from the Split at 12m – 14m depth (terrace 2) you can head north along the wall and reach the area of massive boulders 100m away. Here and along the way you may come across large schools of yellowtail and the odd Grey Nurse Shark patrolling their patch. Circumnavigate the Big Rock and return south. Spend some time exploring, knowing that your way back will be along the same wall going South in 12 - 14 meters of depth.

Another option is to head East into the deeper areas across the terraces to Footrot Flats. Nitrox recommended in this case as you may find yourself in the 20 m range. Combining the area at N and E in the same dive is not recommended as it would make you consume too much air for a safe return.

There are the odd Weedy Sea Dragons both on terraces 1 and 2.

Pictures referenced on the map, look for the labels "Pic 1, Pic 2, ..."

1. tyre

2. tyre

3. fairing

4. The Split

5 slab

6. tyre