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Reef Report for Thursday, January 23, 2003

Northern Reefs: A Truly Remarkable Dive Experience

While my task of learning about dive operations in the area can be hard work, sometimes I am truly blessed. Last week was a great example, as was able to spend the past 6 days on an unforgettable dive adventure’ with Undersea Explorer. © Undersea Explorer We had relatively good weather conditions, with no more than 15 knot winds most of the time. This was my first trip to the Far Northern Reefs and I was not really sure how I would cope with the open seas for 6 days and nights. This dive trip would prove to be the pinnacle of my diving experience and saw us diving some very fascinating dive sites. Over the next few articles I will be covering off the trip focusing on the different dive sites visited, their specific features and generally what one could expect as part of the total Undersea Explorer experience.

To put the Northern and Coral Sea reefs into a geographical perspective we departed from Port Douglas for Ribbon Reef No: 10 on the first day which is approximately 137 nautical miles NNW of Cairns. We them moved off to Osprey Reef (see aerial photo) which is roughly 172 nautical miles North of Cairns, where we spent 3 days diving at sites such as North Horn, Raging Horn, Admiradity, False Hope and The Castle. We then moved back to the Ribbon reefs No 5 & 3 and dived sites at Tracy’s Wonderland, Clam Gardens, the very popular Steve’s Bommie and Nursery Bommie. Then reluctantly we headed for home, ending a great trip.

The Undersea crew was friendly and upbeat, and we also had a great group of passengers, which were made up of a research team of marine biologists from James Cook University, led by shark specialist Richard Fitzpatrick. Richard and his team were continuing their shark research. Having Richard onboard made for some great dives, with up to 20 Grey reef and White Tipped Reef Sharks in the water at times.

Elsewhere on the Northern Reefs the TAKA II Coral Sea trip kicked off with 6 massive Potato Cod vying for attention at the Cod Hole, and their little brothers, the flowery Cods, trying to get in on the action also. Day two on the northern tip of Osprey Reef gave divers an adrenalin rush with a 3.5 metre Hammerhead Shark cruising past. Steve's Bommie was abundant with life with 5 stonefish in varying colours from a pastel pink to a dark brown being sighted and a colony of pipefish were found hiding in a small grotto well camouflaged.

I hope those tidbits will keep you tuned in for next week’s installment!

Not forgetting the great diving to be had traveling out from Cairns or Port Douglas last week provided some reasonably good weather conditions.


On board Reef Magic Cruises passengers experienced slight seas and blue skies. Traveling to the "The Pinnacles", the certified divers had an amazing morning dive where they came across turtles, two reef sharks, a Spotted Eagle Ray and a Moray Eel.

Port Douglas

Poseidon's divers and snorkellors enjoyed another magnificent week out on the Agincourt Reefs, with one group of divers meeting a huge Manta Ray. During a drift dive lots of sightings of Grey Reef and White Tip Sharks, schools of mackerel, unicorn fish, red bass and the coral-crunching giant bump-headed parrotfish. Several dogtooth tuna were seen, as well as large Maori Wrasse every day. Guests on Calypso had near perfect conditions at the Outer Barrier Reef. Whilst snorkeling some cheeky clown fish, a variety of star fish, wrasse, turtles and again dolphins were spotted.

Unfortunately the winds are expected to pick up for weekend to possibly 25knots but easing on Sunday with light winds from Monday. Plenty of sunshine is expected so if you don’t mind a bumpy ride then get out and enjoy the reef. Safe diving, Steve Brady!

(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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