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Reef Report for Friday, January 10, 2003

Previewing the Scuba Dive Experience

I hope with last week’s article I have tempted a few people to think about learning to dive. With so many choices of dive schools and courses, and the Great Barrier Reef right at the front door, Cairns is the ideal place to learn to dive..

Want a little preview before committing to a course? There are a couple of ways of getting a short taste of diving prior to enrolling in a course:

1. © Joel Groberg You could contact any of the local dive operators to organise an Introductory Scuba Dive in their training pool. You may be asked to pay a small fee or in some cases it will be free should you decide to complete a dive course.

2. You can also take a trip out to the reef to do an introductory dive. An introductory dive is a limited depth, highly supervised, small group dive experience, and available on nearly every reef trip leaving the Cairns marina. Local dive operator Reef Magic Cruises includes a free introductory scuba dive in their trip price and other dive operators offer them with prices starting from AUD$35.


This week on the reef four local Nautilus Club members spent a few days on board Kangaroo Explorer owned and operated by Cairns Dive Centre (CDC). They reported spotting many turtles at Milln Reef as well as blue-spotted rays and silver tip sharks. © Pro Dive Cairns During the night dive, a Barramundi Cod was seen, as were many parrot fish in the protective mucus cocoons they spin each night. Titan triggerfish and Garden eels were also very active as were during the day dives. On Briggs Reef, large turtles were common, as were many unicorn fish and clown triggerfish.

Port Douglas

Passengers on Poseidon enjoyed some excellent conditions for diving and snorkeling. A Leopard Shark was sighted at The Plates dive sight on Agincourt Reef #3 with numerous sightings of Cuttlefish laying eggs, mating and also territorial fighting between the males. After speaking with David Miller (Oak Beach Productions) in Port Douglas I was advised that Cuttlefish are carnivorous. Most are active predators feeding mainly on fish and crustaceans. They grow very fast and are thought to be short lived with a life span ranging from a few months to three years. Mating consists of the male and female locking together arm in arm (see image). The male passes packets of sperm to the female. The female stores the sperm in special receptacles and the sperm can be kept in storage for up to 10 months. The female lays her eggs by pushing them deep into the coral away from possible predators such as the long nose butterfly fish. The eggs may take up to 21 days to hatch. The eggs are roughly the size of a ping pong balls.

Coral Sea/Ribbon Reefs

Diversity returned from their Coral Sea trip this week with passengers enjoying 10-15 knots of SE breeze under generally clear skies. Some of the best diving was had on the trip was at Osprey Reef, where they encountered 25-30 white and black tip reef sharks, grey reef whalers and one large Silvertip. A rare sighting of a ‘ribbon eel’ at the ‘Snake Pit’ dive site and also sea cucumber spawning at Challenger Bay made for some really special dives.

On board TAKA II Cod Hole and Coral Sea trip visibility was 20m along the Ribbon Reefs and between 30-35m at Osprey reef. Some great sightings reported were a few octopuses at the Clam Gardens, manta rays at the ‘Temple of Doom’ and a massive resident Green Turtle on a night dive at the Beer Gardens. All these dive sites are located at the Cod Hole along the far northern reefs. As always, there was a great display of sharks, huge cod and moray eels.

I am pleased to report that the weather should be very good for the weekend and into next week with winds holding between 10 - 15 knots. On Saturday I depart for 6 days with Undersea Explorer diving the Cod Hole, Ribbon reefs and the Coral Sea. I will certainly be taking my note book and over the next few articles fill you in on the trip. So keep checking in, and as always safe diving! Steve Brady

Picture of the week: Cuttlefish

The species shown in the photos is called Sepia Latimanus. Photos taken by David Miller and Kate Newnham from Poseidon at the Agincourt’s reefs in a depth of 7mtrs.

(C) Pro Dive Cairns This weekly reef report was written by Steve Brady of Pro Dive Cairns, who compiles them from the dive trips he takes, as well as the many conversations he has with divers, dive instructors, captains, and others in the Cairns dive community. The report is published weekly in the Cairn Post, the local daily paper and appears here thanks to the courtesy of Pro Dive Cairns.

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