ex-HMAS Adelaide wildlife. What will be seen by scuba divers after the sinking?

The answer to this question varies according to the time of year that you scuba dive the wreck, the time since the ex-HMAS Adelaide is sunk, the substrate that the ex-HMAS Adelaide lies upon and within, the organisms that were on-board the ex-HMAS Adelaide when it was sunk, the wildlife of the surrounding area and the potential of the wreck for colonisation. Also, there is potential for wildlife to come  from vessels that are travelling near the ex-HMAS Adeliade through their ballast.

What studies assessed the wildlife present at the scuttling site of the ex-HMAS Adelaide scuba diving wreck?

Two studies conducted as part of the environmental assessment for the sinking of the ex-HMAS Adelaide examined what wildlife are present at the proposed wreck location. The Marine Survey report looked at the physical and chemical characteristics of the seabed where the ex-HMAS Adelaide is to be sunk, while the Flora and Fauna report looked specifically at wildlife and the habitat of the scuttling location and surrounding areas.

Sergeant Baker found on the sand where the ex-HMAS Adelaide is to be scuttled as an artificial scuba diving reef. Courtesy of Allerina & Glen MacLarty

The ex-HMAS Adelaide will sit upon sand that is about 6m deep and if the ex-HMAS Brisbane is a guide, the ex-HMAS Adelaide is likely to settle 2m into the sand over time. The above photo of  the seabed of where the ex-HMAS Adelaide will rest, was taken by a video camera from the Marine Survey report by WorleyParsons Services Pty Ltd.

What the seabed looks like where the ex-HMAS Adelaide will be resting

The Flora and fauna study conducted by Cardno Ecology Lab, setup fish feeding stations that used video camera to monitor fish at the scuttling location and similar sand locations in the area and rocky locations close and afar to the scuttling location, the locations of which are shown in the diagram below from their report.

Fish Biodiversity Feeding Assessment Sites conducted by Cardno Ecology Labs

What wildlife was found at the scuttling site of the ex-HMAS Adelaide scuba diving wreck?

Twenty two species of fish were recorded on the sandy habitat substrates; flatheads, Platycephalus spp. , school whiting, Sillago flindersi, yellowtail, Trachurus novaezelandiae and longfin pike, Dinolestes lewini, red rock cod, Scorpaena cardinalis and sergeant baker, Aulopus purpurissatus were common species found on the sand.

Here is the complete list of fish found at the site of the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Adelaide and the two sand control sites.

CARTILAGINOUS FISHES Family Species
Crested Horn Shark Heterodontidae Heterodontus galeatus
Spotted Wobbegong Orectolobidae Orectolobus maculatus
Shovelnose Ray Rhinobatidae Aptychotrema sp.
Southern Fiddler Ray Rhinobatidae Trygonorrhina fasciata
Stingaree Urolophidae sp. Urolophidae sp.
Southern Eagle Ray Myliobatidae Myliobatis australis
BONY
FISHES
Sergeant Baker Aulopidae Aulopus purpurissatus
Red Rockcod Scorpaenidae Scorpaena cardinalis
Bluespotted Flathead Platycephalidae Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus
Flathead Platycephalidae Platycephalus sp.
Long-finned Pike Dinolestidae Dinolestes lewini
Eastern School Whiting Sillaginidae Sillago flindersi
Silver Trevally Carangidae Pseudocaranx dentex
Yellowtail horse mackerel Carangidae Trachurus novaezelandiae
Australasian snapper Sparidae Pagrus auratus
Old Wife Enoplosidae Enoplosus armatus
Maori wrasse Labridae Ophthalmolepis lineolata
Flounder Bothidae Pseudorhombus sp.
Yellow-striped leatherjacket Monacanthidae Meuschenia flavolineata
Six-spine Leatherjacket Monacanthidae Meuschenia freycineti
Velvet Leatherjacket Monacanthidae Meuschenia scaber
Ocean Leatherjacket Monacanthidae Nelusetta ayraudi
PHOTO CREDITS
http://www.flickr.com/photos/glenmaclarty/ / CC BY 2.0

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