Swimming with seahorses at Watson’s Bay Baths

Seahorses like hanging out at Watson’s Bay Baths.  Their natural home is seagrass but over the years they have taken a liking to the pool’s shark nets. Scuba diver Dave Thomas says they prefer them because it gets them off the ground and away from predators.

“And they can’t chase things down, so they rely on food coming to them. They love hanging in the nets while things go past,” he said in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo from Underwater Australasia

In 2010 Mr Thomas was involved in temporarily removing the colony of White’s seahorses from the nets while the baths were rebuilt. During the construction phase the seahorses, which were named after John White, surgeon-general to the First Fleet, were put on seagrasses. When the work was finished they gravitated back to the new nets that were designed with the seahorses in mind.

Visiting the baths last week I found that the seahorses have a very nice new home with one of the best views in Sydney.  While Watsons Bay was established as a fishing village way back in 1788, the baths had a later beginning. Their life began in 1905 when Vaucluse Council built a shark-proof enclosure to allow safe bathing. Over the years the pool has undergone a number of repairs and upgrades with major work carried out in 1927, 1965, 1975, and most recently in 2010.

The latest renovation includes a new Olympic-size swimming area with two floating turning boards or sunbathing pontoons, wider new boardwalks and improved seating. The focus of the new, improved pool is on entering the water via ladders and ramps in the deep end so that there is a reduced need to walk over the seagrass in the shallow area.

Other features include a deep water access ramp for wheelchairs, which is said to be a first for a tidal harbour pool in Australia. Two fully immersible wheelchairs are also available for public use.

If you tire of exploring this expansive salt water space, you can retreat to one of the seats near the entry which are shaded by the shapely trees above. In the pool’s early days patrons paid admission of two pence a swim or one shilling a week. Today the pool is free; just open the gate and walk in.

Woollahra Council spent more than $2 million improving this lovely tidal pool. Money well spent, I would say. I think the seahorses would agree.

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