Near Exmouth is a renowned shore dive site off a pier operated by the Australian Navy The pier’s intended function is to allow diesel supply ships to dock every few months to offload diesel for the dedicated power station that supplies power to the nearby very low frequency (VLF) transmitter. The VLF facility was built in the 1960’s by the US Navy to support communications submarines while underwater which requires both a low radio frequency and enormous power to penetrate under water. In fact the town of Exmouth owes its existence to this facility as it was originally founded to support the US Navy Base associated with the VLF transmitter. Although control was handed over to the Australian Navy in 1999, the facility still supports underwater communications for both the US and Australian Navy.
Although it was built as a naval facility, this is probably only its tertiary purpose as it is used by the Navy only once or twice a year when a supply ship docks. On the other hand because the pier is normally closed to the general public (hence no fishing takes place) and it seldom sees shipping traffic, it has become a haven for wildlife both above and below the water. So I would say its primary purpose is seagull perch/toilet and fish shelter.
Fortunately the Navy allows divers to access to the pier under very controlled conditions on days when they are not using it, which is most days, so its secondary purpose (based on frequency of use) is a dive site. According to some references, it is one of the top ten dive sites in the world, so how could we possibly miss the opportunity to see for ourselves?
Getting ready to go
The entry involved jumping off a platform 2 metres above the water.
The interesting thing was how relaxed the fish were. Normally I am not able to get close photo’s of angelfish and butterfly fish like these side on as they usually swim away when I approach to take a picture.