Paloona Wreck- Aramoana Mole
Paloona Wreck - Aramoana Mole
Maximum Depth: 10-15m
75 metres from the rudder post of Mokoia lies the easily identifiable stern of the Paloona. Some of the wreckage seaward breaks water at low tide. Look for the big brass nuts where the drive shaft emerged from the stern gland. Picture a rather large propellor occupying the space between the rudder and the stern. Navigate on the outside of the wreck and enjoy the vertebrate and invertebrate life that inhabits the wreck. Rocks have been piled on top of the wreck over the years so it is not a discernable as the Mokoia. Carpet sharks often lie under the overhang of the stern. Swim seawards on the outside of the wreck looking inwards until you come across a "swim-thru" that will allow you to navigate down a corridor on the inside of the hulk. Take note of the endemic coral "dead man's fingers", common anemones, bright yellow ascidians and purple mauve sea tulips that adorn this area. A decent torch is a must to highlight the magnificent colours of the invertebrate and plant life. Depth here is up to 12 meters and the dive is recommended for all levels of experience. Enter and exit the water with care.
If no swells have been hitting harbour side of the Mole for several days beforehand visibility will be at its best. Also watch diving here after rainy periods as the Otago harbour can become quite muddy / silty and visibility is often reduced. Watch for the eddying effect of the tides in some situations, can be identified by looking at which direction the macrocystis kelp is floating in.
The Harbour side of the Mole can become very tricky to enter and exit off the rocks, with the Nor'East wind being the predominant direction of swells to look out for, but anything from the East has been known to generate a little . Make sure you keep an eye on your equipment whilst gearing up at the water's edge. The wrecks themselves pose no immediate danger of an overhead environment as all areas have direct access to the surface, but the sharp edges of the rusted hulks could become hazardous so appropriate exposure protection is advised. Entanglement could also occur as the hulks have become a large area of bladder kelp forests and monofilament fishing line, a dive tool or knife is a must have for this environment. Small recreational fishing boats are often around as well, so make sure you have a surface float and flag to let them know you are diving in the area.
Sea and Weather Recommendations
Avoid: NE Swells as this will make entries and exits difficult due to surge
The second 'turn-around' area for a vehicle on the Mole signifies the start of the Paloona hulk. After entering off the rocks start swimming toward the northern end of the Mole. You should drop down on the stern section of the hulk, and will see the large rudder. Continue the dive up the starboard side of the wreck.
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