Pope's Eye is a semicircular, horse-shoe shaped ring of large basalt blocks on top creating an artificial reef. This provides a safe anchorage for pleasure craft as well as an immensely beautiful locale for snorkellers and scuba divers. The bluestone foundations measure approximately 204 m (669 ft) in length, 22.4 m (73 ft) wide at the bottom to 1.25 m (4.1 ft) wide at the top, and rising to a height of 2.75 m (9.02 ft) above sea level at low tide.
The spaces in the basalt blocks of the reef provide important habitat for feather star. There is also plenty of purple sea urchin and some blacklip abalone. The biscuit star is also common.
Australia's smallest Marine Park, this horseshoe-shaped artificial reef is part of the Harold Holt Marine Reserve with an absolutely no-take policy. It is a haven not only for fish but for birds, invertebrates and algae. Other attractions to look out for are Seastars, Abalone, Nudibranchs, Giant and Leathery Kelp, Sponges and soft corals. The occasional seal can be seen having a siesta at the end of the rocks!
During Summer the small platform of the navigational beacon changes from a year-round roosting site, to an overflowing nesting ground for the Australasian Gannet. It is, in fact, one of the few man-made structures in the world where this species will breed.
The concentrations of fish are testimony to the success of marine reserves. The fish have no fear and get in your face. Nowhere else in Port Phillip will you find more fish in such a small area.
The inside of Pope's Eye provides a safe anchorage in two to three metres of water. Depending on the height of the tide, people can sometimes stand up. Outside, the kelp covered rocks slope away to a depth of 14 metres to 10 metres and sand.
A ship's anchor is resting on its side at 12 metres in the middle of the ebb side and if diving on the flood side, there is an old wooden butter churn at the bottom in the middle. These can assist in navigating your location when underwater.
Popes Eye can only be reached by boat and is a favourite location of divers and snorkellers due to the protection it provides from tidal currents. Because of this, many operators use this site for beginners' first open water dive. It is a fascinating dive and snorkel site for both experienced and novice water goers.
While the best time to dive Pope's Eye is at the start of an Ebb tide, it provides a great dive in all weather conditions. Local divers often dismiss this site as many learnt to dive here. Pope's Eye is an easy dive but should not be underrated.
Ninety years after its construction, in 1979, the artificial bluestone reef and surrounds encompassing some 10 acres were declared a Marine National Park. Fish, marine fauna and flora, as well as bird life, have thrived and flourished providing nature lovers with a wonderful repertoire of nature to enjoy.
Dive Type: Reef Dive
Imported from The Scuba Doctor