Dive Site: Lord Howe Island, Outside the Reef, The Arch & Erskine Valley

Swim through diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

Site Overview

Site Type: Reef – Scenic; with Macro (Nudi's); and occasional Mega fauna
Depth: Top: 12MMedian: 16MBottom: 22M
Location: Outside the reef that encloses the Lagoon

Description

The images in this description come from three different sites on the outside of the reef in the north, in the middle at the dive site known as The Arch, and the south at Erskine Valley, the valley that separates Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower.  This is my favourite kind of diving: around 18 m where the light is still good and the terrain varied.  These first fish were spotted at the northern end outside the reef.

Hiding in the reef there is the mosaic Moray – examples of which we saw in a number of different spots.

Mosaic Moray diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

Closely followed by what I consider the mid-range reef fish: the (double dorsalled) Capricorn Cardinal fish

Capricorn Cardinalfish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

A group of one-spot pullers.

One spot pullers diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

The endemic three banded coralfish with his orange margin.

Three banded coralfish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

There are many other Butterflyfish, though the black backed seemed most common.

Black back butterflyfish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

In the coral grit you’ll find plenty of Goatfish – including the common Black-spot.

Black spot Goatfish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

At The Arch, the depth ranges from 6 – 16 metres.  There is a crevice – a large gutter that slices the reef in the direction of the island to the arch, so navigation is quite easy.

Cleft in the reef diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

There are some very pretty corals all the way along.

Pretty corals and reef diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

And, where you find pretty corals, you find pretty fish; and as usual, it’s the wrasse, in this case a surge wrasse, who’s first up.

Surge wrasse diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

Followed inevitably by a sweetlips.

Spotted Sweetlipsdiving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

And as spots seem to be fashionable on Lord Howe, we run into this Freckled Porcupine fish – who’s not too sure he’s happy to see us.

Freckled porcupinefish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

Down at The Arch proper, you need to stop and grab some of those mandatory ‘silhouetted against the blue’ shots.

Swim through diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

There are some fun swim-throughs, and lots to see under the over hangs.  You can’t miss this writhing mass of lined catfish.

School of Lined Catfish diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

But you will miss things like the nudi’s on the wall if you’re not looking closely enough.  Take your time and have a good look around.

Nudi looks like a snail diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

One critter you might also find, though often very unwelcome, is the Crown of Thorns starfish.  It feeds on the polyps which are the living part of the coral reef.  Behind this one you can see what is called the ‘feeding scar’, where the limestone coral skeleton has been stripped bare of its living polyps.

Crown of Thorns starfish and its impact on the reef diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

At Erskine Valley, Galapagos Whaler Sharks come into check us out even as we start to descend the mooring line

Galapagos whaler sharks arrive even before we get to the bottom of the anchor line diving Erskine Valley and The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

The site is covered with one-spot pullers, which seem to be everywhere on Lord Howe, and the spotted sweet lips.

Spotted Sweetlips diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

This is another dive where it pays to get down into the weeds and have a good look around.  You’ll find the tasselled flathead hiding in plain sight.

Tasseled flathead diving The Arch and other great terrain outside the lagoon at Lord Howe Island

And a variety of nudi’s.

Nudi - blue and yellow diving Dive site Erskine Valley. Diving holiday, travel planning tips for Lord Howe Island - where, when, who and how

Also hiding, in this case amongst the anemones, you find the endemic McCulloch’s anemonefish.

McCulloch's Anemonefish diving Dive site Erskine Valley. Diving holiday, travel planning tips for Lord Howe Island - where, when, who and how