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VIDEO: Diving with Australian Fur Seals at Barunguba (Montague Island), Narooma – Dive 1

It has been on my bucket list for a few years now to dive with seals at Barunguba (named Montague Island by settlers). I initially wanted to tick this off mid 2016, but the conditions weren’t in our favour and life got busy in between then and December 2017.

At Barunguba, you can find two colonies of seals – the Australian and the New Zealand Fur Seals. I still struggle to tell the difference between the two (I guess the former is more like an golden in colour, the latter a smaller muted brown). One other way we might be able to tell the difference between the two (thanks to our guide Francois of Underwater Safaris) is that the Australian Fur Seals have no issue with doing their number two’s all over their sleeping quarters. Our counterparts from across the sea have a little more dignity and place their much smaller derrières over the side of the rocks to expel their waste into the waters.

So if you see some very white splattered rocks, the colony residing is most likely the Australian Fur Seal.

Getting to Barunguba (Montague Island), Narooma

Narooma is approximately 5hrs drive south of Sydney. Driving is the most popular and cheapest option, particularly if you want to bring your own dive gear. You can also fly from Sydney to Moruya and then hiring a car to complete the second leg.

To get to the island, you will need to book a dive with a local dive centre – I specifically selected Underwater Safari’s because they have an ex-navy grade zodiac that can get you to the island in minutes. This is a delight for anyone who hates boat dives/suffers from boat sickness like I do. The cherry on top would have been the great communication and treatment on board from staff in the lead-up, during, and after the dives. The town of Narooma relies on seasonal visitors and going with a local company is a great way to get to know the community and where the locals eat!

Once on board the boat, the ride out to Montague Island is roughly 10-15 minutes depending on the conditions.

Dive highlights

  • Seals, seals, and more seals
  • Boat ride out to Montague Island – prepare to get wet and bumpy
  • Meeting Francois and Clover – owners of Underwater Safaris. Clover also bakes the most amazing muffins!
  • Seeing Barunguba upclose
  • Groper
  • Urchins
  • Maori wrasse
  • Nudibranchs
  • Wobbegong shark

This dive was completed in Summer, at the end of December. For an extra treat, pop in during the whale watching season and you might just spot a humpback whale on your way out.

Nudibranch, Montague Island

Nick with a groper, Montague Island

Nick with a groper, Montague Island

Groper, Montague Island

Wobbegong under a rock shelf, Montague Island

Watch the video:

 

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