Located 350 km south of Sydney is the idealic coastal town of Narooma. As well as a lively fishing industry, Narooma is famous for one specific dive location that people flock to, especially over the Winter and Spring periods. Nine kilometres east of Narooma is probably one of the most exciting dive sites in NSW, Montague Island Nature Reserve.
The thrill of diving with marine mammals is one that residents of NSW do not usually get to enjoy. However, Montague Island is home to a large colony of Australian fur seals and New Zealand fur seals that inhabit the rocks and the sea all year round. September and October are generally the best months to visit the island as this is when the seal numbers are greatest.
As indicated above, there are two species of seals to be found at Montague Island. The main colonies are to be found at the northern end of the island, although they can be seen at the other dive sites around the island.
The best spot to dive the Australian fur seals (which are larger than their NZ cousins) used to be in a small channel between the bombora and the land at the very northern end of the island. However, I have been told that in late 2002 a pod of killer whales (orcas) attacked the colony and they moved to where the New Zealand fur seals used to be located. The New Zealand fur seals were found on the north-west corner of the island at a small bay called Pebbly Bay. Starting just north of here the NZ seals used to be seen basking on the rocks and around the first point in another, even smaller, cove. However, the bigger Australian fur seals threw the NZ seals out and took over the area.
Anyway, wherever you go to dive here, just sit on the bottom and watch the seals as they scrutinise the funny looking invaders of their domain or try doing a few stupid looking antics and they soon investigate you. Barrel rolls, twists and turns often attract their attention. Sometimes a younger pup will come close enough to you that you can stroke and scratch their backs and stomachs, but be careful as adult seals can be very protective of their young.