Blog: Lord Howe Island: new sites, new species, new depths – could this be the new tech hot spot?

Local Caitlin Woods assisting RLS team. Image by John Turnbull

Over the past couple of months, Pro Dive Lord Howe Island has been involved in two vastly different but equally important research projects.

In February, Pro Dive assisted Reef Life Survey with their biennial pilgrimage to the island. The team, led by Rick Stuart-Smith completed 108 transects at 52 sites.

According to Stuart-Smith; “The team added at least four new records of species in Lord Howe Island waters, including the Chromis amboinensis (Ambon puller), Paraluteres prionurus (Blacksaddle filefish), Priolepis cincta (Girdled goby) and Sebastapistes tinkhami (Darkspotted scorpionfish).

“Also of interest was an area previously affected by the Tripneustes gratilla (Sea lamington) sea urchin boom which seems to have continued its recovery, with only five individual Tripneustes recorded across all 108 transects, and none at the Keyhole site at the Admiralty Islands.”

Sonia Rowley at 72M, nine miles north of the Island. Image by Steve Lindfield DP

Then in March, the Pro Dive team hosted a research team from James Cook University, coordinated by Professor Andrew Baird and including Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) divers Sonia Rowley and Steve Linfield. Their mission was to collect coral samples at depth and document their findings.

While completing their mission, the CCR divers set a few new records for depths around the island, their deepest dive reaching a depth of 82.6m as well as collecting the most southern coral sample for the Lord Howe Island rise.

The Pro Dive team were required to develop their skills for the project, with Divemasters executing gas exchange for the decompression stops as well as rigging hard lines to assist the CCR divers with descents and decompression stops.

Apart from a successful scientific mission, the team has realised the potential there is on Lord Howe Island for deep technical diving to explore the incredible marine ecosystem that surrounds Lord Howe Island.

Sonia Rowley decompressing with a marlin. Image by Steve Lindfield

So, I guess, watch this space for news of technical diving opportunities on Lord Howe!

For fish-spotters, nudibranch lovers and photographers, another good excuse to take part in this year’s Photo Shoot Out with Scott Portelli – check our deals page for details.